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back to article Virgin puts 'legal P2P' plans on ice

Big label pressure has forced British cable ISP Virgin Media to suspend plans to introduce a legal music sharing service for its subscribers, just weeks ahead of its launch, The Register has learned. The radical initiative, tentatively branded as "Virgin Music Unlimited", represented a major investment for the ISP, and would …

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Anonymous Coward

So..

instead of opening another revenue stream for their IP, they consign themselves to being ripped off by filesharers. And we should be sorry for these idiots why?

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Jobs Halo

I, for one,

have already taken my services elsewhere. I actually gave them my 30 days notice a couple of days ago, and a very nice Sky person has sold me a broadband service that's faster and cheaper.

But anyway. Shame they couldn't get their legal stuff sorted out. That'd have set a good precedent.

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Flame

Time to (not) act

This insatiably greedy bunch of Luddites will not give up, even when simple logic stares them in the face.

They seem to only understand the language of money, ergo: money talks.

I say, its time for money to stay silent - silence is golden huh?

A total boycott of the products of the music industry would, I believe, silence the rustle and chink of money and tills - then let's see if THEY are prepared to talk or at least listen.

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Happy

Legal P2P

If there was a legal p2p service available for a monthly subscription (just a theory) then i personally think that illegal p2p would decrease. A legal service would more than likely see an increase in quality and cut out the risk of dodgy sync films and bad quality music for the user. The big music companies just seem completely unwilling to grasp the fact that it will make them more money in the long run than pursuing hundreds of illegal sharers for lost loyalties. They would also get they're product out to a wider audience share.

Lets face it, unless there is a particulary attractive boxset available or you are a super fan most will just torrent the TV series or film. Introducing a legal subscription service to the mass market will generate a fair amount of cash from the people who would normally torrent it.

Overall i believe it would benefit both parties to have a legal service. Better quality for the user and more money for the bean counters at said music/film company. Everyones a winner.

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Typical really

"[...] it's possible to infer that major labels still fear losing control, and have pinned their hopes on changing behaviour rather than creating services that generate new revenue streams."

That sounds pretty typical of the music industry. Bunch of dinosaurs. They'd have us all back Our Price buying singles on cassette, if they had their way.

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Thumb Up

Fine by me

I'll stick with the illegal ones.

Nice one, lads.

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Pirate

"A service never previously legally available"

It's not *that* revolutionary. I had subscribed to Rhapsody in the past, and thought it was a decent compromise but I don't listen to enough music to keep paying for it. Of course, some RIAA labels didn't offer their catalogs to Real so the selection was somewhat limited.

The big dilemma I see with P2P subs is that it can still be abused. Users can sign up for a single month, download everything in the world, and then cancel. ISPs get hit with huge random traffic spikes as groups of users activate the service and start pulling, but they don't get paid enough and the demand isn't consistent enough to inspire them to upgrade infrastructure. Announcing a P2P service that's throttled would help but user overreaction would be incredible.

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Anonymous Coward

Steal more music..

...from Universal and Sony and buy nothing from the artists on their roster until they come to their senses...

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Pirate

Bang! "AAAARRRGGH!!!"

That noise was the recording industry shooting itself in the foot. Won't be long before they go the way of the dodo. They could have earned themselves a few bob, but they can't get past the idea that P2P=EVIL.

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Anonymous Coward

Steal more music..

and boycott the majors until they come to their senses...It's criminal that they are costing jobs and stifling innovation during a recession...

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ben
Stop

Isle of Man

I Imagine they are holding off to see if the Isle of Man p2p plan goes to ....er.....plan.

it wouldn't be much use charging for legal p2p if the uk gov just apes the isle of man and charges us a p2p *tax.

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Paris Hilton

Haha P2P

P2Ping on a service with a 30:1 download:upload ratio on the shiny new product, that'd have worked.

Paris - for trying to monetise P2P while forgetting the uploading part of the equation.

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Try going to bands directly.

Cut out the money-grabbing middle man and see what you can get from bands directly, and if they don't do anything like that ask them why not.

After all the costs of distributing their ware online can't be that much, and asking for donations for their torrented music could work out.

ttfn

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Meh

Who cares about Virgin media, if it wasn't for the £125 BT install fee they would be out of business tomorrow.

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Anonymous Coward

hmm

So, regarding Justin's comment above, does that mean that if I had a very large, very extensive music collection, acquired through torrents (note: I don't), I could just sign up to a service such as this for the minimum allowed time, and all my music would magically become legal?

After all, I *could* have downloaded it all through the service (assume that all songs are available), and re-ripped it to mp3 or something (in the case of a non-mp3 format being used).

Sounds like an excellent way to get masses of people off the hook in an 'amnesty' sort of way. Though I suppose that's what they're going for.

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Paris Hilton

All this is very familiar...

Why does this remind me of the first hesitant steps towards unmetered internet about a decade ago? The desire amongst the public for legal P2P is undoubtedly there and ISPs are keen to cash in provided a suitable business model is available, but the labels are scared it will ream their cash cow.

Compare to 1999 where the desire amongst the public for unmetered access was definitely there, the ISPs were keen cash in if a suitable model could be demonstrated, but BT was scared it would ream their cash cow.

Fast-forward 10 years and everyone is smiling - there may be dark clouds on the horizon with regard to net neutrality and funding for next-gen networks, but in the end it only took one committed stab at an unmetered package by an organisation with sufficient money/industry clout to open the floodgates.

I wonder who the legal P2P world's Freeserve will be?

Paris, because she loves a committed stab as much as the next girl.

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Silver badge
Linux

Paid P2P - HTTP please

Um, who wants to pay for P2P ? I would rather a direct HTTP download if I am going to pay for it, much like the approach iTunes and Steam use to deliver their goodies.

What if the file that you paid for simply isn't being shared at the time you purchase. Will you have to wait indefinitely for a file you paid for?

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Pirate

Fine by me

I'll stick to torrenting my music, movies and TV.

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Another day older, deeper in debt

The day will come when the heads of the current music distributors toddle off to the Arkham Asylum and someone else will be rowing the boat. Perhaps then the industry will figure out a way to monetize itself with the new technology of that time. They don't have a clue today.

They missed the boat by not buying up the original napster and monetizing that; and have mis-stepped every day since then. Their one oar in the water is not getting them anywhere; fast.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Paid P2P - HTTP please

I see legal P2P is pretty mindbending. This is unlike anything ever attempted before. So to clarify what we're talking about:

@Justin: "It's not *that* revolutionary. I had subscribed to Rhapsody in the past..."

OK. It's nothing like Rhapsody.

@Mike: "I would rather a direct HTTP download if I am going to pay for it, much like the approach iTunes and Steam use to deliver their goodies."

And you would. iTunes uses Akamai, if you're lucky that's a server at your ISP. This is even faster, as all downloads are on the same high speed network. No BGP.

@Mike: "What if the file that you paid for simply isn't being shared at the time you purchase. Will you have to wait indefinitely for a file you paid for?"

Er, you don't "pay" for a file at a time. You pay a subscription and then access whatever is available. The "purchase" mentality isn't applicable here.

If your remember the original Napster, users did a pretty good job of making catalog material available that the labels had forgotten was in their vaults.

@Carl Thomas: "P2Ping on a service with a 30:1 download:upload ratio on the shiny new product, that'd have worked."

The bunker mentality isn't applicable here. Everything on the network is available to every other subscriber to such a service. No DRM, always available, all the time.

So it's not as if you have 30 seconds a day in which to down your food. You don't have to rush.

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Switch -a-Roos

Sounds like Virgin ISP had a good plan, Legal P2P and if end users don't want to pay, club them with the DPI and 3 strikes you are out letters.

But now all they have is a big fat stick. and illegal free loaders, Welcome to real world....

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IT Angle

tod

"""have already taken my services elsewhere. I actually gave them my 30 days notice a couple of days ago, and a very nice Sky person has sold me a broadband service that's faster and cheaper.

But anyway. Shame they couldn't get their legal stuff sorted out. That'd have set a good precedent""""

have you even checked to see if you can get faster BT broadband then cable line on avg its 5mb for an bt line (ignoring the traffic management on virgin)

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

3x2

It's hard to have any sympathy for the industry

<..>it's possible to infer that major labels still fear losing control, and have pinned their hopes on changing behaviour rather than creating services that generate new revenue streams.<..>

<...>Labels demanded that Virgin block uploads and downloads of songs from subscribers' PCs, sources suggest.<..>

It's pretty clear that the good old days are never coming back. Backing the VM venture, even for a trail period, would have been a chance to gauge a possible alternative. All they are left with now is more of the same, litigation and an escalating (and un-winnable) technical war.

The problem is never going to be solved overnight but that seems to be what the industry is demanding from any new proposal. Yes users may transfer songs laterally once they have been downloaded but they are doing that already. VMU may have made a start in changing attitudes and would have given the industry a cut. Currently their cut is 100% of nothing and unless maths has changed a lot since school that is still nothing.

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Spotify

If the record companies are going to kill off all the competition, it looks like most people in the UK will be using Spotify by the end of the year. It’s P2P that just works and, in its ad-supported form, is free. There are limitations. You need an active Internet connection and the music can’t be taken beyond the application, although the company have said they would like to offer some ability to move music to portable devices. It has the potential to take customers from both the likes of iTunes and, when it comes to music, The Pirate Bay.

I’m not clear how DPI would have been relevant to Virgin Music Unlimited. A customer signing up to VMU can agree to all the deep packet inspection in the world, but that doesn’t solve the same problem that Phorm has. RIPA requires the permission of both communicating parties, when it goes beyond measures necessary for network management. Keeping a tally of shared tracks is a long way beyond. If you’re going to inspect only the packets travelling between those who have signed up to VMU, you might as well provide a self-contained solution, along the lines of Spotify.

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Paris Hilton

Idiots!

Clearly they don't want our money. The funny thing is, it's the one thing they're continually bitching about losing.

Paris because she's probably more intelligent than the clowns behind major labels.

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Alert

Oink. Ostrich. Arse.

Four Oink uploaders have just been sentenced to between 50 and 180 hours community service and few hundred pounds court costs (admin Alan Ellis is to be sentenced in March).

http://torrentfreak.com/oink-uploaders-sentenced-to-community-service-090123/

Hardly a disincentive to illegally share, especially as the site was shut down by Interpol, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Phonographic Industry. The IFPI's own report last week claimed that 95% of downloaded music came from an illegal source.

Virgin were trying an admirable experiment here, it's a shame the major record companies don't appreciate someone trying to help them claw back some of their missing revenue.

There's probably a proverb somewhere that says, "An ostrich with its head in the sand is likely to get f**ked up the arse". Carry On Sharing.

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Anonymous Coward

Struggling To Save The Status Quo

No, I don't mean the rock band (Da Quo to avoid confusion). Virgin Media's reputation has taken such a hammering what with Phorm and it's acting like the BPI's b*tch, so credit to them for actually trying to do something that could be positive for customers. With the music companies trying to hang onto their old business model they weren't too likely to support the venture.

I have no sympathy for either party.

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Worried about illegal sharing?

I use I-tunes at home and can put the tracks/video I download onto a usb stick or copy them straight from my ipod onto the computers at work and listen/watch them in media player classic. If I can copy them this way then surely I would be able to torrent the music/video file, yet the music industry seems to love I-tunes. Perhaps it's worried that torrent files are often recorded at 320Kbs or in FLAC format and we may find out that they are ripping us off with low quality versions available on commercial sites.

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This says it all!

When P2P first arrived, the music industry pissed on their chips by sueing Napster instead of co-opting them. Ten years later and they still can't smell the coffee. If anyone still retained an ounce of sympathy for them, now is the time to divest themselves of that delusion.

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Linux

Spotify

Agree wholeheartedly with By Someone. Spotify is the greatest system in the world to address those genuine 'try-before-you-buy' arguments for file sharing. You hear a recommendation for a particular artist or album and <click>....it's there. Don't like it ? Move on and find something you DO like. Love it ? Well, you can't use the copy of the file in your cache cos it's encrypted, so you go to a legit download service or online CD store like Amazon and.....<gasp>.....pay for a copy that can be yours forever and ever.

In one fell swoop, Spotify has addressed the plus and minus points of file sharing to both the file sharers AND the labels/artists. Hell, Warner has even embraced the Spotify model on the one hand whilst acting like short-sighted dicks over use of their tracks on YouTube on the other.

It's the mutt's nuts and no mistake. Spotify. Remember the name. 2009 is the year of Spotify on the desktop.

Tux, cos you can run the Spotify client on WINE.

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Flame

I pay...

..well in a sense.

I have a Cineworld Unlimited Pass, I can go and see as many movies I like, as many times as I like. for a simple prices of £11.99. So do I? No.

I do regulary go, but sometimes RL gets in the way and by the time I have some free time the film is no longer showing...so I just torrent it...this is classes as illegal. But the fact is I am paying for a service, that I was unable to use. So IF I torrent films the MPAA assume that they get no revinue, where as if I go and see 20 monvies a month (very possible) I only pay £11.99 so where the extra revinue for them? None!. After all its cinewolrd who pay for the film and charge users to see it, its cineworld that loses not the MPAA.

So am I downloading illegally? Even though I do pay (in a sense)?

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to little to late

If they had done this 4-5 years ago then yes maybe would of worked.

To late for it to make any impact

*internal dialoge

Wooyay Virgin have P2P.

Everybody Else: Wut, meh had it since 2000

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Good, customers don't need the bandwidth choke

Regular customers of virgin do not need the bandwidth choke this minority service would impact on us old sensible farts.

Good riddance.

Humbug

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Ian

Stop defending the undefendable ISP FUD.

"While they are reluctant to be seen to be monitoring their users, ISPs receive no incremental revenue from the vast quantities of infringing material that flow across their networks, which is a disincentive to invest in better network infrastructure. VMU was seen as a way to capture some incremental revenue voluntarily from users, increase customer loyalty, and decrease "churn"."

Er, what? Of course ISPs receive revenue for ALL material regardless of what it is flowing across their network, this is what we pay monthly subs for. What do you think we pay subscriptions for? Membership to the PlusNet fan club or something?

As for incentive to invest? Well how about not losing customers when their network becomes unusably dire?

ISPs seem to have this obsession with trying to charge users for the same thing twice- "Hi, pay us £19.99 and we'll give you unlimited bandwidth for a month" followed by "Hi, we think you should pay an extra few quid per gb of your unlimited bandwidth you use". If ISPs have problem paying for the cost of their bandwidth with the subscriptions they charge then they need to either band together to negotiate cheaper backbone costs, cut their profits and stop being so greedy or finally, up their prices and deal with the consequences. They shouldn't however keep trying to con people and pretend people aren't paying for what they told them they were paying for when they handed over the cash.

We keep hearing the tired old argument that bandwidth costs a fortune per gb and we're lucky we only pay what we do as low end users subsidise high end users. Sorry, but bollocks. Other nations like Sweden get by with vastly higher bandwidth usage per customerover their 100mbps internet connections for the equivalent of £10 - £15 per month for the connections. The same is true in Japan, South Korea and some other places- its obvious then that bandwidth isn't the mega expensive highly limited resource the ISPs make out, they just like to maintain that illusion so they can rip people off even more.

If there really is a problem then if anything it's the budget packages, free, £5 a month, £10 a month etc. It's pretty clear it's actually the high end package users with their still disgustingly low bandwidth caps that are subsidising the ISP landgrab. If ISPs are struggling they need to focus on serving the customers that do actually pay their way rather than trying to grab many who aren't willing to in the hope they can profit off these people further down the line.

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Heart

@Ian: you fail at economics

I'm glad you're not running my ISP - it would go titsup in about two days.

"As for incentive to invest? Well how about not losing customers when their network becomes unusably dire?"

That's not an incentive to invest. That's an incentive to get out of the ISP business. You Fail.

"If there really is a problem then if anything it's the budget packages, free, £5 a month, £10 a month etc"

You get free music and movies nonstop from an ISP for a flat rate, you whinge and bleat about the injustice of it all, then you blame Grannies who use email once or twice a week. It only takes one Freetard to wipe out the profit of low use subscribers.

"It's pretty clear it's actually the high end package users with their still disgustingly low bandwidth caps that are subsidising the ISP landgrab"

No, you have it backwards. Completely, 100% backwards

If you want unlimited internet then fine, get set to pay for it. No one owes you Freetards a living

"The same is true in Japan, South Korea "

Where the taxpayer has funded the networks - and they still run sh*t slow because they're

saturated with Torrents.

I doubt you've ever run a Lemonade kiosk, but hey, don't let complete ignorance of the broadband business stop you having an opinion!

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Flame

moronic, unrealistic, idiotic

These guys at the recording companies wouldn't recognise a revenue stream if it leapt up and bit them in the turntable.

The worst-case scenario for the new service was that /some/ users still illegally shared files. but there'd still be legit users paying a fee to use the service. But rather than get a slice of the revenue from the legit users and reduce the number of illigit users into the bargain, they're insisting on having the whole hog even though its unattainable.

A healthy dose of realism is called for. Maybe, what with a recession and all, some of these bright sparks will get one - a pink slip shaped one.

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Stop

turn on each other

Its sad to see the typical 'low use' opinion attacking 'freetards'.

This argument should not even be relevant if we were given the bandwidth we have been sold.

Also any of you 'grannies' (yes i am looking at you Paul M.) who only use email... have you forgotten about the huge increase in the size of updates (a recent MS update was 100mb for a single language definition file).

Lastly whether you use the flash version or not, iPlayer is just the first of many high bandwidth legal internet uses. So don't blame us torrent users for being the first to try and use the bandwidth we were sold. This debate is about the music industry failing, and not about who uses what bandwidth.. maybe there are people out there who would be happy to pay for a decent connection, but even on the 'unlimited' packages we are persecuted.

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Anonymous Coward

I call bollocks...

------

Lets face it, unless there is a particulary attractive boxset available or you are a super fan most will just torrent the TV series or film.

------

Nope - don't torrent any TV or movies, why would I when most DVDs can be picked up in a sale (of which there's inevitably one on somewhere at any given moment in time) for what, £3 - £10? The few programs I do watch on TV are generally in the "on demand" bit on my telly and there are very few that I would watch over and over again anyway.

If something is WORTH having, it's worth paying a reasonable price for - if it's not worth having... then why bother, torrents or otherwise?

Same with music, if you support the band, then support the band ffs - go to the gigs, BUY the CDs, MP3s and T-Shirts... because without the support of a fanbase to provide their income (oki, in most cases they only get a small cut of the income) being in a band becomes a non-economic proposition - like having to pay to go to work.

You wouldn't expect a builder to come out and build your conservatory for free - so why do people expect musicians, actors and programmers to do that?

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Good to read comments for Andrew's artciles

Have you been forced into enabling comments for your articles Andrew? They're always thought provoking and it is good, in a curate's egg way, to read the comments which follow.

Spotify is the answer - fast, massive library, well organised, no lag. Albeit with a worry of what happens if it's business model goes wrong and the subscripts paid become worthless. I think that the ease of download, the benefits for the thief, and the anonomous nature of the net reduces people's disinclination to steal to a point where it becomes a blurry, ambivilent irrelevance. If Spotify takes off, I think the inclinclination to steal music will recede again as they get what they want, fast access to the music they are interested in.

"We are the energy saving trust"

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Anonymous Coward

@ verious pepol

@ the author

I am v confused how was this planning to work where VM planning to right there own p2p app for use on there network and you would pay to get it and login and then share music (I assume for the comments on the story it was just music) or would they just let pepol on this " payment plan" do as much p2p as they want without complaning about it eather way seames flawed

"If something is WORTH having, it's worth paying a reasonable price for - if it's not worth having... then why bother, torrents or otherwise?"

I oftern torrent stuff that I would never buy (or even am ashamed to admint I own) just to see how bad it was for example I just downloaded the complete xena *shudder*

anon for obvious reasions

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Flame

A Paytard Revolution

If there was anything that would turn me into a freetard then its this act of GROSS STUPIDITY on behalf of the music companies most of whom see the internet as part of the the "Axis of Evil" one of the "Terrorizers" who threaten their old school revenue stream. Of course the opposite is true, they would generate more revenue than they currently do but i don't think their exists any method of explaining this to them that has not been tried save perhaps pictures and cartoons. If the music industry were a person they would be George Bush and the only question is when us paytards will eventually get our Obama.

As for Virgin, well i respect them for trying, i encourage them to keep trying and i suggest that until the music industry sees sense they should consider the MoU moribund and withdraw from the practice of writing letters to freetards. I am sure that they will be able to use the lack of cooperation from the music industry as sufficient grounds to forestall any legislation by the government. Virgin simply should not have to threaten its revenue stream by eventually disconnecting users or otherwise driving them away just to preserve the revenue of the music industry especially since the music industry wont allow itself to be helped.

The music industry just lost some revenue from me, my music purchases, which would have risen under the Virgin deal will now not and they'll just have to satisfy themselves with my occasional music purchases. That is when i can be arsed to pay the petrol to drive to town through the cngestion, pay for parking if i can find any, walk the stupidly long way to the shop assuming its not closed (ZAVI), search for 20 minutes to find the CD if its actually in stock, stand in a queue for the 'honour' of buying it and then walk all the way back to the car and drive all the way home again. Of course i could just buy the CD online and enjoy the roulette of the Royal Mail, i might get it by 2010, i probably wont. I suppose i could use itunes if i could get it to work on win2k, i am sure strengthening Apples strangle hold on the music industry is what they want, what they really really want.

(I chose that music quote to reflect intelligence of the music industries practices and perhaps why we should just let them destroy themselves so we can have something better)

Go on then Mr Orlowski, any comments?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Good to read comments for Andrew's artciles

Spotify is nice, but it doesn't look like a successful business to me (ad-supported is not viable and there isn't enough to justify a tenner a month subscription) and it doesn't fulfill the desire to cache music locally in an open format.

"Have you been forced into enabling comments for your articles Andrew? They're always thought provoking and it is good, in a curate's egg way, to read the comments which follow."

No, my backchannel (phnarr) is valuable to me, so enjoy it while you can. Or you can comment by mail for the mailbag - which is what the smart kids do.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: A Paytard Revolution

"Go on then Mr Orlowski, any comments?"

Well ... You don't like leaving the house. You don't like putting your name beside things you say. Your post takes more than a year to get delivered.

... And you need to upgrade from Windows 2000 ;-)

Life has indeed dealt you a cruel hand.

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@jeremy

100MB patches? Yeah, right. Do your homework - it's the 5GB a day Torrent-tards who are crippling the industry. Same in Japan, where fibre is installed.

"So don't blame us torrent users for being the first to try and use the bandwidth we were sold. This debate is about the music industry failing"

The ISP industry is also failing, in case you didn't spot it. Thanks to people like you, who don't know how it works, but want to leech as much as you like hoping the light users don't send too many emails.

The ISPs are retarded for implenting flat rate pricing. The Freetards are retarded because they won't pay the true bandwidth cost of their pr0n habits.

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@ andrew orlowski

""Go on then Mr Orlowski, any comments?"

You don't like leaving the house. You don't like putting your name beside things you say. Your post takes more than a year to get delivered. And you need to upgrade from Windows 2000."

you sir are a hero!!

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@paul m

"The Freetards are retarded because they won't pay the true bandwidth cost of their pr0n habits."

I would pay if that is what they where charging incase you forgot it is up to the seller to set the cost of that they are selling if they set it to low then it is a very stupid buyer who says "no do not sell it to me at £3 I want to pay £30"

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Flame

Re: Re: A Paytard Revolution

Not my fault and i am tight fisted, cowardly, agoraphobic with a postman who molests my mail. :-)

My point however was more directed to the accumulated costs associated with buying music in the manner that the industry demands above and beyond the RRP not to mention the time required in 'Time Poor, debt rich' modern lifestyle. Such a thing was never a problem once as it was the only show in town but for a decade there has been an alternative and its frustrating to have the door repeatedly slammed in our faces.

Its like they don't want my money, I just don't understand their logic. Its not as if piracy could get any worse or more widely spread, its at total saturation already. In fact its so widespread that the only possible direction it can go is down but they stubbornly refuse to do the things that will make them more money and probably reduce piracy.

Go on then Mr Orlowski, any comments?

PS: I am really hoping to skip XP and VISTA, i dont think anyone can blame me for that, M$ operating systems are like Star Trek films except they only make a decent one every 3 attempts or so rather than every 2.

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Anonymous Coward

@saddo AC

Are you surprised no one else wants to comment, AC?

"Its like they don't want my money"

You go out of your way not to pay for music. The customer acquisition costs vs. the return you give them are not worth the trouble. You're not anyone's idea of a customer.

And you whinge and bleat like a spoiled child. You are the definition of retarded.

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