back to article Watchdog demands MSN Music mea culpa

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is demanding that Steve Ballmer make a public apology to all people silly enough to purchase tunes from MSN Music, Microsoft's long-defunct iTunes wannabe. This morning, the San Francisco-based tech watchdog floated an open letter (PDF) to the hulking Microsoft CEO, criticizing the company's …


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  1. Ken Jongsma

    Right From the Horses <chose orifice here>

    "Every time there is an OS upgrade, the DRM equation gets complex very quickly," Bennett said. "Every time, you saw support issues. People would call in because they couldn't download licenses. We had to write new code, new configurations each time."

    Boo Hoo. I feel so sorry for them. If ever there was an argument against DRM...

  2. Chris C

    As expected

    Anybody in the computer industry should have seen this coming. And guess what? It doesn't stop there. Every piece of media which requires external validation will come to this inevitable conclusion -- O/S product activation (XP, Vista, Server 2003, etc), other product activation (Radmin3, Norton/Symantec antivirus, etc), and any other product which requires an external server to give the user permission to install or use what they have already legally purchased.

    All servers currently in operation will be shut down at some point in time. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. It may be tomorrow, it may be twenty years from now. The problem is that everything you have purchased which relies on those servers to give you permission immediately becomes useless. <sarcasm> Not that it would ever happen </sarcasm>, but this sure would be a great way for a company to force you to upgrade, wouldn't it? "Due to the extremely low utilization of those servers, it was not in the company's best interest to keep them operational" or some such BS to keep the regulators/watchers happy. And that, perhaps, is the best reason to avoid (if possible) anything which requires activation or relies on external servers in order to install or continue operation.

  3. Steve Martin
    Gates Horns

    Show a little class...

    I expect the class-action lawsuit to be filed shortly after the licenses expire. Another group of lawyers will make millions while screwed customers get a $10 credit at the Zune shop...

  4. Mat
    Gates Horns


    FairUse4WM alleviate the problem????

  5. Anonymous Coward


    And if such an obviously fly-by-night here-today-gone-tomorrow cash-strapped company such as Microsoft can simply tell some of it's paying customers to "sod off IDIOT FKWITS" what chance is there of anyone seriously believing DRM/authenticated music to be a legitimate and safe medium for laying down a lifetime's music collection?


    Silly me for believing such a thing.

  6. a walker

    The Big Countdown has begun!

    Microsoft has only upset a few people with there MSN Music server shutdown.

    What about all those poor, unfortunate Windows XP users who will not be able to activate their XP install when Microsoft switches off the XP activation servers. Do not forget MS Office and its activation process. No activation, no software!

    Better to switch before its too late....or provide Microsoft free access to your bank account.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    Genius idea - send Microsoft an e-mail saying you have bought these DRM music files, Microsoft send you several blank CDs and a letter of apology, problem sorted.

    It's early so it seems a good idea to me anyhow!

  8. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    RE: CDs

    Rather than Microsoft sending you a few blank CDs wouldn't it be better if they sent you the CDs with the music on that you have already paid them for. That way the time and effort would be spent on their part not the poor fool consumer who believed them in the first place. Also if there were any legal issues about the copying then it would be the music industry v Microsoft rather than the music industry v some poor consumer who's already been ripped off once already.

    As others have said, this was a completely inevitable situation. Part of the payment that MS received was to keep those servers running. Now they've decided that they are loosing out of the deal they've decided to renege on their part of the deal. I'm sure the small print of the licensing Ts&Cs gave them the rights to do this, and the consumer no rights at all. I hope some judge somewhere tells them that this is not a reasonable contractual term and throws it out, then MS can get prosecuted for fraud, which is basically what is going on here. MS are saying we are happy to take your money, but we are not happy to provide the service you have paid us for because it's not making us as much money as we think it should.

    Who's the pirate now?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Publicity disaster...

    This destroying of their DRM servers along with definitely dropping peoples favourite version of Windows (XP) is gaining them a larger base of people who are growing to hate Microsoft. I can easily imagine class action suits against Microsoft, as i'm sure theres no where in the T&C that says 'Yeah you can use the music you PAID for, till we get bored of allowing you to do so'!

    They should at the very least supply either DRM support via their Zune store or provide DRM-free versions. If they think burning to CD then re-encoding is a good idea then they are retarded, as the audio quality loss will be notable. Things like this is why iTunes will stay for a very long time king.

  10. Matthew

    @Dazed and Confused

    I agree. Remember that in Microsoft T&C you haven't bought anything but the right to use <product> until they want to take it away, which they could at any time.

  11. Mei Lewis

    Can't wait until this happens to iTunes!

    And it will.

    Apple have already nearly gone bust 3 or 4 times in the last twenty years.

    Even if they stay active it's likely that within 5 years they'll be forced to sell DRM free music so their DRM servers will be a legacy support hassle for them they'll switch off as soon as they feel they can.

    Then all the people who've bought music from iTMS will have a hissy fit and the general public will realise what a stupid idea DRM is.

  12. Paul Talbot


    ""Every time there is an OS upgrade, the DRM equation gets complex very quickly," Bennett said. "Every time, you saw support issues. People would call in because they couldn't download licenses. We had to write new code, new configurations each time.""

    Erm, yeah. That was pretty obvious before you began, wasn't it? "I'm sorry, we can't be bothered to put in the work to keep our own systems running" isn't a valid excuse for trashing peoples' purchases.

    I was telling people about this danger when DRM first appeared, but people scoffed. After this and the Google Video fiasco, how can anyone trust DRM-laden content? Fools if you do. Demand DRM-free - for video as well as music content, it's the only way to stop the consumer being screwed.

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  14. AC

    Hang on ...

    since when did people still pay for music ?!

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No documentation of purchase

    Well, well ... no documentation of purchase eh? Says a lot for going back to buying CD's and ripping them, that does.

  17. LNR
    Black Helicopters

    DRM UnF&*^%ed

    After sifting through many forums and supposed help pages regarding this issue I quickly discovered there are more support in removing DRM than a Micro$haft solution to the problem. So one hour and a couple of clicks later and my entire collection of music is now DRM free.

    I, like many other conned fools just feel that I paid for my music, I didn't grab a quick torrent which would probably have been a higher bit rate and now I have to go to the shop, buy 700CD's take the next 2weeks of work so I can burn the whole lot, only so I can rip them off the very format I didn't bother buying in the 1st place.

    I think its a sad sad day when you have to resort to "illegal" ways to secure your own property.

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