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Microsoft Businesses Media Music Your Rights Online

Microsoft Set to Unlock EMI Songs, Too 171

Posted by Zonk
from the very-brave-new-world dept.
linumax writes "Microsoft has stated that it may be close to reaching a deal with EMI to sell songs without anti-piracy protection via the Zune platform. This, from comments made by head of marketing for Zune Jason Reindorp. They come hard on the heels of EMI's announcement that a deal with Apple to sell songs without DRM protection through the iTunes Music Store has been struck. Mr Reindorp said: 'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content. This does open things up a little bit. It potentially makes the competition more of a device-to-device or service-to-service basis, and will force the various services to really innovate.'"
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Microsoft Set to Unlock EMI Songs, Too

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  • by rs232 (849320) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:45AM (#18633407)
    Not only that but they innovated the idea before Apple ever did !!
    • by AVee (557523) <slashdot.avee@org> on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:10AM (#18633683) Homepage
      Hi, i'd like to welcome you all to our monthly bussiness strategy meeting. The agenda of this months meeting is basically the same as last month:
      1. What has Apple been doing this month?
      2. What has Google been doing this month?
      3. Are there other interesting things to copy?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EonBlueTooL (974478)
        Because apple/google(or $random_company) have never been guilty of copying something other companies are doing. Shouldnt that be the secondary focus of EVERY company? What is the competition doing and how can we do it better?
      • "The same thing we do every day, Pinky: leverage our monopoly on the desktop to take over other markets."
    • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:06AM (#18634401)
      Apple was the first company that ever offered DRM-free downloads, right?
      • by EggyToast (858951)
        Of course! Remember, you have to sell something WITH DRM first, and then you can claim it's DRM-free. Otherwise, it's just a file.
      • by 2nd Post! (213333)
        They licensed it from Xerox Parc. It's pretty well documented, at that.
        • I didn't know Parc was involved in DRM-free downloads.

          But seriously, Apple paid for a tour, but there's pretty much no evidence to support the theory that Apple bought a license to Xerox's IP. Apple never mentioned a license when Xerox sued them and it would have been a key piece of evidence in Apple's favor.
          • by 2nd Post! (213333)
            You mean the one they filed only because Apple had filed against Microsoft for developing Windows 2.0 and 3.0? At least according to Wikipedia:

            In a twist midway through the suit, Xerox filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming Apple had infringed copyrights Xerox held on its GUIs. Xerox had invested in Apple and had invited the Macintosh design team to view their GUI computers at the PARC research lab; these visits had been very influential on the development of the Macintosh GUI. Xerox's lawsuit appeared to

    • by kjart (941720) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:48PM (#18636699)

      Not only that but they innovated the idea before Apple ever did !!

      Claiming this is Apple "innovation" is as ridiculous as claiming this is Microsoft "innovation". Give credit where credit is due - bravo EMI.

    • by killjoe (766577)
      Rest of the world: Hey look at this cool thing I did!

      Microsoft: Me Too!!!!
  • Splendid! (Score:2, Funny)

    by LordPhantom (763327)
    Now, let's hope the albums cost less than the current store CDs, given the reduced material and sales costs. I'm sure that's what will happen, right?
    • Price comparison (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlpineR (32307)

      Some facts to accompany your quip:

      Coldplay's album "X&Y" is an EMI release.

      Full album from iTunes Store = $11.99
      Full album from Amazon = $11.97 + S&H
      Full album from Best Buy = $13.99 in store
      Full album from Caiman via Amazon Used & New = $11.93 with shipping

      Sure iTunes isn't the absolute cheapest way to get it, but the tradeoff of price/convenience seems reasonable to me. Get it within minutes from iTunes, or pay $2.00 more and pick it up at Best Buy, or save $0.06 and get it in a few

      • Actually, when you factor in the shipping and handling, iTunes is the cheapest place to buy it.
      • by animaal (183055) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:08PM (#18635317)

        Sure iTunes isn't the absolute cheapest way to get it, but the tradeoff of price/convenience seems reasonable to me.
        I would have thought that until recently, but now I appreciate having:

        1) lossless sound encoding on my good audio equipment
        2) a physical backup, also lossless
        3) an asset that can be re-sold when I no longer want it.

        The way I look at it, with a CD I get all three of the above, and it costs no more than a lossy data file from iTunes that can't be re-sold.
  • by romanval (556418) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:46AM (#18633419)
    would they have do so even if Apple didn't convince EMI to drop DRM?

    I think not.
  • Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting. It has nothing significant to offer over iPods, let alone 90% of the more recent non-Apple players. This just isn't all that important in the world of music hardware...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting.

      I agree, although I would be more inclined to say that, like the vast majority of Microsoft products, it will always blow chunks. Worse, because Microsoft is kow-towing to the media companies, it will probably always be more restricted than competitive products.

      It has nothing significant to offer over iPods, let alone 90% of the more recent non-Apple players.

      Dead on. As a "recent non-Apple player" owner, I have a SanDisk San
      • So somebody tell me again why I need a Zune? Or an iPod? I suppose if I were interested in portable video I'd feel differently, but as it happens I'm not. I just want to tuck the thing in a pocket and listen to my music.

        To store 30-80 times more music on your device and not actually need to manage it separately?

        I hate having to use itunes, and will ditch it as soon as foo_pod starts working reliably again, but its definitely the easiest way for your average person to deal with moving a small segment of thei

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Paulrothrock (685079)

      Like all Microsoft products, it will blow chunks until 3.0 so keep waiting.

      That's completely untrue.

      Word blew chunks until 6.0

    • by Ucklak (755284)
      3.11 to be exact then it'll take until 4.5 to be really good.
  • Man, I hope so. That makes two very important gadget co.s and one major label...

    Part of me wants to continue boycotting their stuff anyway, as punishment for years of bad behavior
  • Here's what I see... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foodnugget (663749) <eric-slashdot@noSPAM.ericfeldman.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:48AM (#18633451)
    So there are a few directions this could take, here's the ones i can think of:
    1) They unlock certain songs, and shortly thereafter, claim these songs are now more-heavily pirated, and use it for justification to sell more DRM to recording agencies
    2) Same as #1, except they claim the songs are not selling better, and declare that DRM isn't an obstruction
    3) they still include some kind of DRM but call it something else
    4) They've actually seen the light, and are now going to try to innovate instead of regulate.
    Did I miss any?
    P.S. I don't have a lot of confidence in 4).
    • by RDW (41497) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:53AM (#18633519)
      5) They release the tracks as unprotected (but iPod-incompatible) WMA and find they don't sell any better, then claim that consumers aren't really interested in DRM-free tracks.
      • by xENoLocO (773565) *
        EMI ran a test with DRM free tracks last year and found users preferred DRM free 10 to 1... ... sounds like a commercial but I read that in an article the other day...
      • 5) They release the tracks as unprotected (but iPod-incompatible) WMA and find they don't sell any better, then claim that consumers aren't really interested in DRM-free tracks.

        I've never needed to try this, because I haven't used .wma in a long time, but I'm pretty sure that iTunes will convert non-DRM'ed .wma's to AAC or mp3, possibly even without any user interaction if you try to put them on the iPod. Can anybody verify that?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Monsterdog (985765)
          iTunes will indeed convert unprotected .wma files to your choice of AAC or MP3, using the quality levels you set for CD ripping. There's also a number of conversion utilities around that will do the job as well. I'll be shocked if Microsoft abandons their PlaysForShit scheme altogether. If that happens it might have a cascade effect and cause all but the monthly fee setups (such as Napster and Rhapsody) to follow suit -- after all, who wants to see their sales go completely to shit because nobody wants t
        • by Carrot007 (37198)
          It's really sad the ammount of people that think converting one lossy format to another is something reasonable to do.

          I wish it were just windows users but I see people thinking it's sane on the mac as well, hey mac people were known to burn the drm'd aac to disk and re-rip to remove he drm.

          Personally I'll only buy music off the ne when it comes in lossless format. And then I can convert/compress for my player and still get a decent sound.

          The number of people who find 128 kbps mp3 resonable still kind of sc
          • Re:.wma in iTunes (Score:4, Informative)

            by acidrain69 (632468) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:35PM (#18635673) Journal
            I think you're missing something. Not everyone can really hear the difference. It may be obvious to you, but not to everyone else. Just be happy you have good hearing. Or feel cursed because only you and a few other % of the population qualify as "audiophiles" that would notice.
          • It's really sad the ammount of people that think converting one lossy format to another is something reasonable to do.

            A) I was just addressing the fact that the quote I referenced labeled wma as iPod-incompatible. I wasn't really discussing quality, but whether it is possible to use wma files with an iPod.

            B) If I'm listening to music on my iPod, it's usually in the car, or in some other somewhat noisy public place. The amount of background noise usually degrades the quality of the sound I hear anywa

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Personally, I want my online music to include image files for the CD Gem case, the CD face, and a cue sheet so that a CDDB recognizable CD can be created. Basically I want to be able to buy my album in such a way that I can properly manufacture my own CD. Then I want it at a price that takes into account that I am doing the manufacturing instead of them.
        • by RDW (41497)
          Yes, it will:

          http://www.apple.com/itunes/hottips/ [apple.com]

          Of course if you start with a lossy WMA you'll presumably get the usual additional loss of quality in transcoding to another lossy format This is a similar quality penalty to what you get when circumventing Apple's DRM via the 'burn to CD and re-encode route', but a bit more convenient, and possibly starting from a higher quality file if MS follows Apple in making its DRM-free stuff high bitrate.

          Of course if MS is serious about selling music to anyone except
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rilister (316428)
      ahh. The beautiful visual effects of the Slashdot reality distortion field.

      so in the case of 2, what would we have to complain about? *If* people don't care and don't preferentially buy DRM-free, do you expect major labels to remove DRM restrictions despite the fact they would have proven that the market wasn't interested? They aren't sitting up in their offices working out how to make Slashdot-ters happy, y'know.

      And even more telling, option 4 seems to define the word 'innovate' as 'do exactly what we want
    • 2) Same as #1, except they claim the songs are not selling better, and declare that DRM isn't an obstruction

      Would this really matter? Microsoft might not get better sales, but I would bet some money that Apple's sales will increase when they're offering higher-quality DRM-free songs. Unfortunately for Microsoft, what happens with iTMS is going to matter much more that what happens with MS.

      It's going to be pretty funny to watch what happens to WMA now as people drop DRM. Will Microsoft miss the boat by

  • no thanks to MS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@NosPam.gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:49AM (#18633459) Journal

    It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

    Interesting how MS plays this as "opening up" things for the consumer. We'll see. I wonder how much progress MS has really made unencumbering consumers' music.

    • have they opened up the wireless sharing at all (ahem, "squirting")
    • have the at least allowed for non-drm music to be shared indefinitely?

    I don't hold my breath waiting for MS to do anything for me. I cringe they are jumping on this as a potential PR windfall for them and their Zune. Fortunately, the Zune was pretty much issued DOA, and this doesn't make a whit of difference.

    • Re:no thanks to MS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:55AM (#18633549) Homepage
      Interesting how MS plays this as "opening up" things for the consumer. We'll see. I wonder how much progress MS has really made unencumbering consumers' music.

      Even for Apple and EMI this isn't opening things up for anyone. It's charging more for the same fucking shit you would get from a CD while approaching or even surpassing the cost of the physical media while not having the physical media to keep or uncompressed and high quality audio.

      I'm tired of this entire EMI thing. I'm not fucking impressed at all.
      • Re:no thanks to MS (Score:5, Informative)

        by porcupine8 (816071) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:10AM (#18634463) Journal
        DRM-free albums (not individual songs) will still be $9.99 in iTMS. If you can always get major release CDs for less than that, you must have a relative who works for EMI or something. Sure, maybe it's technically lower quality - but I know I sure as hell can't tell the difference between 256 kbs and a CD (which I'd just rip anyhow).
      • Mr LazyLightning this is LazyThinking at best...

        First, ability to cherry pick and buy songs that you like is something that is not a product available on physical media such as CDs. Second iTunes does allow you to put tunes on a physical medium such as an iPod or a burned CD if you choose to do so.

        Of course, this does not impress you because of the 20+ KHz frequencies that you can so clearly hear are getting cut out on the 256Kb AAC. And that makes you really upset....
    • The thing that I don't like is that they've been bending over backwards to give everything that copyright owners have asked for. The Zune was a stab in the back of all their PlaysForSure partners, they assumed they could get it right themselves and make their own walled garden.

      As much as I didn't like how Apple did things, they did it a lot better and with very few restrictions in comparison. I really don't believe Steve Job's stated reasoning for not wanting to licence "FairPlay" either, people have mana
      • people have managed to decrypt Apple's stuff despite not being a multi-party encryption scheme

        Not for the past year or so. The iTunes 6-7 AES-based scheme is unbroken, much to my dismay (of being able to buy stuff from iTunes and use it on my devices without taking a quality hit).

        There's an attack against Windows to intercept the data stream, but that's not actually an encryption break.
    • Re:no thanks to MS (Score:5, Informative)

      by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75.yahoo@com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:33AM (#18633935)
      It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

      I think you need to go back and read EMI's announcement [emigroup.com]. Some relevant quotes (emphasis added):

      "From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality."

      "EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms."

      "Apple's iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI's new premium downloads."

      EMI had always planned to make its catalog available to anyone that wants it, not just through iTunes and not just AAC files. The only exclusivity Apple ever had was in making the co-announcement.

      • "EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms."


        EMI does not have a retail online music store where you can buy digital music for all devices and platforms. They sell to wholesalers like Apple who chose just one format which is in compatible with almost any player which is a member of the Plays for Sure camp including almost all Janis and MTP format players and most DVD players and car MP3 CD players.

        EMI is supporting all devices and platfor
    • Re:no thanks to MS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SilentChris (452960) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:36AM (#18633973) Homepage
      Actually, it's not even Apple's initiative. It's EMI's.

      In interviews after the announcement EMI said it was them, not Apple, that initiated the push for DRM-free music. They had already experimented with smaller versions of the program in the past. Internal tests said their own employees preferred the option to buy DRM-free tunes.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the timeline was: discussed it with Steve Jobs sometime in 2006, they were close to inking a deal, Jobs publishes his "Thoughts on Music", EMI and Apple push the new initiative. Jobs looks like a visionary, EMI looks like a marketplace innovator.

      In other words, how Jobs usually plans things: to make it look most appealing marketwise.
    • by init100 (915886)

      It probably goes without saying, but this isn't some initiative on MS' part. It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

      This is especially funny as MS response to Steve Jobs' open letter about selling DRM-free music was basically that doing this would be irresponsible and that Microsoft is always adamant about protecting IP. A month later, they themselves announce that they too are going to do the self-proclaimed "irresponsible" thing, that is selling music without DRM.

    • by Qwavel (733416)
      > It's riding Jobs' coattails, crying "me too!, me too!", as if MS is some kind of crusader for consumers' rights around music and DRM.

      Nor is this Steve Jobs idea. You think Steve Jobs cares about consumer rights? Do they let you run OS-X on commodity hardware? Do they license their DRM? These are the masters of lock-in.

      Yahoo has been pushing the labels to sell unlocked content for years (mind you, maybe I'm naive to think that was anything more then PR). iTunes got it first because iTunes has all t
    • have the at least allowed for non-drm music to be shared indefinitely?
      Just because they don't have DRM, doesn't mean copyright doesn't still apply. The songs are most likely meant for personal use only, but personal use on a wider array of devices and from a wider array of services without restriction against format shifting or fair use.
  • Accuracy of title? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justinbach (1002761)
    What about "squirting" device-to-device? I didn't see anything about this in the article, but then again I didn't read it very carefully (this is /., after all...) I can only assume that because the Zune DRM-izes just about every song on your device when sharing, even those that you recorded yourself, EMI songs will probably still suffer from the 3-days/3-plays restriction...though I suppose MS could just argue that lifting the restriction would just encourage piracy.

    Still, I don't think it's fair to c
  • by Zetta Matrix (245803) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:50AM (#18633481)
    If I'm not mistaken, Bill Gates has paraded around in recent times saying that "customers want [DRM]"? It's ok to say you're wrong, Bill.
    • Just for the record (Score:5, Informative)

      by Taagehornet (984739) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:24AM (#18633827)

      If I'm not mistaken

      But you are [techcrunch.com] (well, at least the real picture is a bit more muddled)

      Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which "causes too much pain for legitmate buyers" while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are "huge problems" with DRM, he says, and "we need more flexible models, such as the ability to "buy an artist out for life" (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.

      His short term advice: "People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      How is bgates the bad guy here? Because his new OS plays bluray? Take that up with the bluray people and Sony. If you want the worlds worst DRM offender, look at the ITMS. ITMS has made DRM and everyday thing for Joe and Jane Sixpack.

      Or you can sit around and complain about microsoft, thus making sure no one knows how wrong Apple is and, as usual, continue to accomplish nothing but whine and moan.
  • Indeed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by igotmybfg (525391) <slashdot@nosPam.danielthompson.net> on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:51AM (#18633497) Homepage
    Of course they're aware that that's what consumers want. I think it's also pretty obvious that they don't like it, though, because it goes against their traditional strategy of vendor lockin.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      It really must be hard for MS to go from a position of willingly forcing DRM onto consumers and then have to admit consumer don't want it when they backtrack to a certain extent.

      I'm not holding my breath too much on any of the other DRM stuff. It isn't likely that MS would reverse a position on anything that didn't already have some viable competition involved. MS has been able to push the DRM from the aspect that they control the access users have and decided to create a business model out of that control.
  • Since when? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vivaoporto (1064484) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:52AM (#18633499)
    'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content.'

    Since when? As far as I know, what they are trying is to provide the ultimate protection to content, from the file format [microsoft.com] to the media player software [microsoft.com] to the output hardware [microsoft.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:54AM (#18633533)
    ...are done rejoicing, can we appropriately tag this article as irrelevant and slownewsday?
  • I'm curious... Does this mean that EMI is dropping the DRM requirement on wireless Zune to Zune transfers as well? Without that insipid "3 day, 3 play" DRM rule, the wireless song transfer option on the Zune just became a hell of a lot more useful!

    Of course, it would also make it a hell of a lot easier to pirate songs as well. Something tells me that the RIAA would never let this happen :(
  • by straponego (521991) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:10AM (#18633687)
    I went from buying about 10 CDs/month a few years ago to about 0 CDs/month because of RIAA tactics, the fact that buying spinning metal media discs is silly these days, and that the price was ridiculous. So I've got about 650 of those things in a closet, about the same bumber I had five years ago.

    If I can buy uncrippled, high quality media files, I will. ~256K VBR mp3 is about the lowest I'll consider. Yes, I can hear the difference, consistently. Apple's 256K AAC should meet this spec, though I haven't listened to much AAC.

    Now, it's time to optimize the price. I'm aware that the actual costs of distribution over the net is very low, and I don't care about marketing costs, because virtually nothing I listen to is marketed at all. I don't like being ripped off. $1/song is still a ripoff, but for uncrippled content I'll probably buy a few albums I've been wanting, just to encourage them.

    But. At $.50/song and $5.00/album, I'd buy 100 albums today. I've got a five year backlog to catch up on. Probably be good for another 10/month, too.

    Come on, music labels. Talk to your artists, see who's willing to experiment with the prices. Healthy industries with real competition experiment with prices to find the most profitable price points. You're pricing like a monopoly, but you're forgetting that we do have alternatives: Free legal music, free illegal music, boycott, video, games, books, etc. I suspect you'd make a lot more money if you weren't so greedy, scared, contemptuous and contemptible. Why not find out?

    • by amyhughes (569088)
      because of RIAA tactics

      Translation: because I can find them for free now, and I've convinced myself I'm entitled.

      If I can buy uncrippled, high quality media files, I will

      No, you won't.

      But. At $.50/song and $5.00/album, I'd buy 100 albums today.

      At $.50/song you'll set the bar at $.25.

      • No, you won't.

        Weird, because I have. Back before emusic changed their terms of service, I subscribed. I think maybe they've changed them again, but it doesn't matter: they've proven they can't be trusted to honor a deal.

        Nope. There are people like that. I'm not one of them. I'd actually like the artists I enjoy to get paid. And I'd sign a contract to back that up. $500 now, $50/month for a year. I've been waiting for it for years. If I just wanted free stuff, I wouldn't have waited. I'd have i

        • by amyhughes (569088)
          Sorry, my response was more a response to the general slashdot "you", and not you in particular. The statements you made are repeated often here and look a lot like self-justification. Of course there are likely a few who mean what they say, too.

          I also had an emusic account and canceled because it took forever to find stuff. Then they sent me a teaser re-instroduction and simply following their link to learn more signed me up. Nitwits. Canceled again, of course.
          • Wait... what the... what are you doing? This is Slashdot. NEVER apologize. NEVER admit fallibility. And ALWAYS escalate. Now, what you've done, here... you left me with nothing to work with. We may as well just nod politely to each other and carry on with our repective days.

            Disgusting.

  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:15AM (#18633729) Homepage Journal
    I think that this is just more evidence that Apple's success with iTunes with respect to market share really put the record companies over a barrel. They've wanted to raise the price of tracks from 99 cents for a long time now, but apparently didn't have the leverage over Apple to make them do it. Without higher per track prices on iTunes, there was no way they could get it at any competitors, who were already at a huge disadvantage anyway.

    So when Jobs started talking about removing DRM, probably not just a coincidence, it set the stage for EMI to offer DRM free tracks, but at a higher price per track. It looks as if stripping DRM was the price of raising the price per track. Perhaps the record companies are realizing that removing DRM is the only way in the near term of loosening Apple's grip on the digital music market. Of course it is interesting to note that the DRM-less tracks from iTunes will be in AAC format which, while other players can support it, will tend to keep most people in the iPod fold since converting to other formats like MP3 is a hassle most consumers would prefer not to be bothered with. So I would look for growth in the number of AAC supporting players.
    • by pkulak (815640)
      "Of course it is interesting to note that the DRM-less tracks from iTunes will be in AAC format which, while other players can support it, will tend to keep most people in the iPod fold since converting to other formats like MP3 is a hassle most consumers would prefer not to be bothered with."

      Well, even the Zune supports AAC. It's more the _next_ format then Apple's format.
    • converting to other formats like MP3 is a hassle most consumers would prefer not to be bothered with.

      That may be true, since if you have no reason to convert to MP3, then why bother? However, it wouldn't be hard to convert DRM-free AAC files purchased from iTunes to MP3. iTunes has the functionality built in. Basically, you could select your whole library and click on "convert to MP3". A little while later (depending on how big your library is) you'd have all your music converted into MP3.

  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:15AM (#18633743) Homepage
    Every time someone does something cool, Microsoft always has to chime in. It's like the annoying little brother who is always following you around; whenever you say anything, he always says "Me too!" and then goes on to explain how what he did is even better. For anyone who didn't have a younger sibling growing up, it's hard to overstate the annoyance factor.

    Netscape revolutionizes the Web -- MS creates free Internet Explorer. OSX introduces Expose, the Dock, and Widgets -- four years later Vista "innovates" with duplicate features. Apple rakes in millions with the iPod -- Microsoft creates poo-colored, squirting Zune. Google goes IPO -- MS announces "all-new, improved, better-than-ever" MSN search. Apple announces DRM-free music -- you guessed it: Me too! Me too! Me too!

    I don't hate Microsoft (though sometimes it seems like they work awfully hard to make people hate them) but I'm not buying their "We want to eliminate DRM too" PR either. Microsoft's media file format, software, hardware player, and store are all strong arguments that that's a load of monkey excrement.
    • by cmacb (547347)

      Every time someone does something cool, Microsoft always has to chime in. It's like the annoying little brother who is always following you around; whenever you say anything, he always says "Me too!" and then goes on to explain how what he did is even better.

      That's an excellent analogy. I also know individuals who act like that and they always remind me of the liar guy that used to be on Saturday Night Live... the one who ended almost every sentence with "Yeah, that's the ticket". My first reaction is to

    • "Netscape revolutionizes the Web"

      How, by making money on it? It's not as if Netscape invented the browser.
  • Microsoft has hinted that it may be close to reaching a deal with EMI to sell songs without anti-piracy protection via its Zune platform.

    Surely nobody still thinks that digital restrictions management provides "anti-piracy protection"? It's about control.
    Even the MPAA knows that current DRM encourages piracy [freshdv.com] by making paid-for music more of a hassle.

    • by jZnat (793348) *
      Yeah, the article summary is totally NPOV...

      It reads like a press release from Microsoft, and without having RTFA, I can't say whether or not it actually is.
    • by jonbryce (703250)
      I think "protection" as in "protection racket" is exactly the right term to use.
  • Microsoft in various media statements, has declared that if there is going to be piracy, they want it to be done on their platforms, and TO their platforms. Anything that keeps marketshare from competitors is a good thing, as far as they are concerned.

    The truth is, were Linux accessible to the masses, Windows would be free.

  • Zune Wireless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PixieDust (971386) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:45AM (#18634093)
    One interesting way this could play out is taking the Zune's wireless sharing abilities from a sort of novelty "That's kinda neat" feature to something actually marketable (not to mention a legal quagmire for Microsoft). They sell unprotected music, with 0 DRM, and then people start sharing songs between Zunes like crazy. I had a Zune for a while, and loved it, it's actually a great little device. If MS would make a few tweaks to it's usability and features, it would really be a great product. It's already better than an iPod (imho) of what it can do, usability, and features. The real question, however, is if Microsoft is just changing to adapt to what is really becoming a truly consumer driven market, or if they're actually trying to go after Apple's complete dominance of the MP3 device market. Either way, should make for an interesting show.

    I can't help but wonder when the first RIAA lawsuit is brought forth against Apple or MS for "Enabling Filesharing" by "Failing to protect copyrighted content". And then going after the HDD manufacturers for making access to the files so easy.

  • I'm having a hard time believing it, but apparently it's true....

    Yes, I guess they are still selling Zunes.
  • Almost there (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JumperCable (673155) on Friday April 06, 2007 @10:52AM (#18634183)
    Give us lossless FLAK or WAVs and I'm sold. Enough of this lossy compression crap.
    • Ya, mp3s can't touch 50~75meg wave files! Seriously though, I think I'll keep using mp3...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CelticWhisper (601755)
        Hence the request for FLAC. My FLAC files average 20-30MB (far smaller than WAV/AIFF) and the tradeoff in CPU power for encoding/decoding is more than acceptable. Testing on an AMD64, encoding a 12-track album takes about 5 minutes or less. Encoding on a G5 Quad (albeit as a single-threaded process) takes even less time.

        I was skeptical of "off" formats for a long time, sticking with MP3 for its playability and widespread compatibility. Once I discovered RockBox, though, along with Cog and Foobar2000 (th
  • Wasn't the zune the device that added DRM to anything you put on it? Or was it just when you "shared" it (that 3-days, 3-plays thing)?

    Great deal - get DRM free music from EMI. Put it on your zune - *bang*, DRM added. Another MS shoot-yourself-in-the-foot moment.
    • Wasn't the zune the device that added DRM to anything you put on it?

      I don't own a Zune, but I know they don't let you access files on it as a removable drive, and I don't know if they let you get files back off of it in the Zune software (I know iTunes doesn't let you get media back off of the iPod, but I hadn't heard either way on the Zune). So if the music gets put on the Zune, the only way to get it off is through the wireless sharing... If you can't get the music off of it, then it really doesn't m

  • Uh...

    How does this move work with their monthly subscription service that is heavily dependent upon DRM? What prevents these people from paying $15, downloading the noncopy-protected songs, then simply dropping their subscription? Their songs will still play.

    It was one of the main reasons Apple gave for not wanting to follow the subscription model.

    This is just on the back of a rumor that Microsoft is planning to give out either a discounted or free Zune with a paid subscription to the Zune Market.
  • "...innovate" They keep using that word, I do not think it means what they think it means...

    Appologies to Mr Montoya
  • This will turn into a new race of online content distribution innovation apparently. Whoever jumps in the bandwagon will get miles ahead of their competition, who miss it will be forgotten.
  • This might get modded "Redundant," but I've seen so many arguments below about who copied whose idea, who's pretending to innovate, who is good, and who is evil, that I thought it would be helpful to point out:

    EMI approached Apple. [macrumors.com]

    They also said they would be fine with other stores doing it. Chances are pretty high that they also approached Microsoft, probably simultaneously, and that the details just took longer to hammer out and MS didn't want Apple to take all of the credit. Note the "may be close to sig
  • "'We've been saying for a while that we are aware that consumers want to have unprotected content"

    then why the hell do you have DRM at all?
    I no to sell music they may need it for contractual reasons, but why is there OS loaded with that crap?
  • Interestingly, it's possible that getting rid of DRM makes it possible for EMI (and the rest of the music industry) to break Apple's lock on the online music industry.
    It's a method for the music industry to force competition between online music vendors, thus increasing EMI's profits.

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