back to article This weekend you better read those ebooks you bought from Microsoft – because they'll be dead come early July

If you bought an ebook through Microsoft's online store, now's the time to give it a read, or reread, because it will stop working early July. That's right, the books you paid for will be literally removed from your electronic bookshelf because, um, Microsoft decided in April it no longer wanted to sell books. It will turn off …

  1. Christoph Silver badge

    "The fact that it decided against all these options and to simply kill the whole thing off should be a very big warning sign to anyone who has bought, considered buying, or will consider buying an ebook in the future."

    So maybe they decided to kill off everyone else's ebook market?

    1. druck Silver badge
      Flame

      Do pay, and they'll take it away

      Do the right thing, reject easily downloading pirated copies, support the artist and distributor by paying for your digital content. Then wake up one morning, and find that the DRM bailiffs have taken it all away.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

        I do both. I find the pirated version, then pay for the DRM'd version or physical version. And never use it. That way the artist/author gets their cut... and I get my goods

        1. aks Bronze badge

          Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

          If only it went to the artist/author. In the majority of cases it goes the the copyright holder, which is usually a large corporation.

          1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

            Copyrights should only be allowed to be owned by natural.persons not corporations.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

              Copyrights should only be allowed to be owned by natural.persons not corporations.

              How do you think that would work? I ask because I'm actually interested in your answer.

              I can see some concerns with the idea - two tier property law (one class of things owned by people another by corporations, or both?), what happens when a copyright holder dies (copyright expires, transfers with estate? if so, what of the estate is left to a company?), and lastly what do you do about works created by a corporation and not a person?

              1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

                Fairly simple. Since corporations can't hold any copyrights they pay the copyright holder for the privilege of using copyrighted material.

                Limited lifespan of the copyright, if the holder expires before the copyright, it goes to the estate. If there's multiple people inheriting they will need to use a private law solution to see who gets what. That's a strictly private affair.

                If the inheritor is a corporation it instead goes to the next of kin or failing that the state (public domain).

              2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

                As for 'works created by a corporation'; corporations don't make works of art, books or movies. People do.

                Sure that corporations can hammer out a private law contract with the natural copyright holder of the work if they want monetise a work.

                If they can't settle on an agrrement, it's not anyone's problem.

                This does guarantee that the copyright holder is compensated and that the intention of copyright law, the creation of more works of art by protecting creators, actually works as intended.

                It also stops the current copyright hoarders to lobby for infinite extensions of copyright, since the individual copyright holders will have considerably less lobbying power.

                1. LucreLout Silver badge

                  Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

                  As for 'works created by a corporation'; corporations don't make works of art, books or movies. People do.

                  I pay a builder to build me a house. I have every reasonable expectation at the end of it, that I am the owner of the house. How is it different if a company pays someone to create something for them?

                  Put another way, the company I work for owns my entire output during their day. Some of it they copyright, some of it they don't. I made it, with their resources, and I was paid to do so. If at the end of the day I own the work, then there's no job anyone would pay someone to do that involved IP. Outside of work though, I own my output, or rather I own some of it, and my side hustle company that I own owns some of it.

        2. zb

          Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

          I would be more inclined to send the money direct to the artist/creator and let them decide if their publisher, agent etc have done enough to earn their cut.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

            "I would be more inclined to send the money direct to the artist/creator " and put them in breach of their contract with distributers?

            Only way this would work is if said funds appeared in a region other than those specified in contract, we need a temperal anomaly bank to send money to before author was tied into contract since contracts are typically in world plus dog region.

            Needless to say temperal anomaly banking pays no interest

            1. DropBear Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

              Would that work with quenched/hardened anomalies too...?

              1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: Do pay, and they'll take it away

                "Annealed Anomaly" will be the name of my next band.

    2. WolfFan Silver badge

      It won't affect those who don't have DRM on their books in the first place.

      1. Steve 114

        Oh no?

        Some reports say it will.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: Oh no?

          If there’s no DRM, then copies can be made so that if the official copy goes away you still have a copy. Stick it in calibre, for example.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        "It won't affect those who don't have DRM on their books in the first place."

        What, like paperbacks and hardbacks?

    3. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

      Solution

      Buy book. Use Calibre to strip out DRM and backup book. Use airplane mode on reader. Enjoy years of reading pleasure safe in the knowledge that not only can the distributor not take what you paid for, you can convert to any format you want.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Solution

        Calibre doesn't remove DRM without special plugins, but you'd have to ask Apprentice Alf about where to download those plugins...

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    Here's the reason I don't buy DRM protected media. We have zero rights and the vendor can decide to walk away and remove access to what we paid for.without any comeback from the customer - other than the customer saying "screw you" to any future purchases.

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      If only someone else hadnt stolen #metoo

      Ardent non buyer of DRM products; because anyone with ANY sense knew this could and would happen somewhere along the line.

    2. quxinot Silver badge

      https://xkcd.com/488/

      Surprised no one else jumped up with the obvious link.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pirate

        https://xkcd.com/488/

        Surprised no one else jumped up with the obvious link.

        Well I did...

        About a day after you :(

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    Par for the course

    This is exactly why I don't buy ebooks unless I can download and convert them to a file format that I can use with standard software.

    1. spold Bronze badge

      Re: Par for the course

      Like I'd like to download them to the vellum on my bookshelf format to be read with the software in my head?

      Perhaps I'm old school ;-)

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Par for the course

        I'm 100% with you for recreational reading.

        However, I have to admit that being able to carry an entire technical library on a portable device was a game-changer for me at work. Mostly because I can search them, but also (not insignificantly) because I no longer have to keep a ton of books in my cube and I don't have to try and predict which ones I'll need to lug between work and home.

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Par for the course

          Mine was because the local library lends ebooks using a time limited DRM thingy. You get to choose how long too so you can be a good citizen and release the licence so others can read it for eg

          That means I just need to take my Kobo on holiday loaded with library books for gratis. Much lighter and less bulky than a pile of dead tree books and no embarrassment about having to admit you left it on a train in Finland (been there, done that).

          I haven't investigated how to subvert Kobo's DRM because I have feck all bought books on mine. It has a lot of free books from Gutenberg on it mind and other free sources and library books. Gutenberg is fantastic. I have a complete works of Rabbie Burns and its searchable, for free. A paid for version might be prettier and have better linkages but the Gutenberg out of copyright version is still pretty good. Okay it might just be my interest in poetry but the point is you don't have to pay.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Par for the course

            "Okay it might just be my interest in poetry but the point is you don't have to pay."

            There's a certain - shall we say poetic justice? - given that Burns was Scottish.

            1. zb
              Joke

              Re: Par for the course

              And we can only speculate where Muscleboy comes from :)

          2. lybad

            Re: Par for the course

            I thought one of kobo's selling points was that the books were DRM free, and you could transfer them to other devices?

            1. WolfFan Silver badge

              Re: Par for the course

              Kobo has DRM on at least some books

            2. phuzz Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: Par for the course

              Kobo use Adobe-DRM when the publisher has told them to (some publishers, such as Tor, don't require DRM). Five minutes with a search engine should lead you to a solution that will remove that DRM, you know, if you're one of them pirate types...

              1. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: Par for the course

                Running software that removes DRM from a file you've legitimately purchased is not piracy.

          3. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: Par for the course

            The old Kobos were good. The new ones force you buy books from their website (not even alternatives) so its a book reader with very limited book choice excluding all the classics that should be free.

            1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Par for the course

              I think my kobo has one purchased book on it, just to see how it worked. The other couple of thousand are either scans and conversions I've done myself, or net-supplied epubs - in all cases of books I already own the paper copies of.

              I simply don't buy into the whole licence instead of buying thing. It's all very well the sellers saying 'we told you so' when it was buried in the small print somewhere: if they were honest about this, there'd be a big warning between hitting 'pay' and 'ok' saying in big friendly letter: you do realise you haven't bought this, and we can take it away any time, ok?

            2. NATTtrash
              Thumb Up

              Re: Par for the course

              The old Kobos were good.

              I agree. SHMBO convinced me eventually to try one, so she got one of Ebay, cheap, just to try, get a feel of it. In the beginning the Touch was a disaster. it was slow and kept nagging it wanted to connect, register, all kinds of shit. Really thought we invited spawn of the devil into our home. But...

              Since it was less EUR than I have fingers on one hand, nothing was lost and started to play around with it. So we put it on "air plane" mode for ever (as we should have done immediately), and then gave it a hard reset (pin prick at the back). It deleted all the "can't-miss-this-new-release!", "oh-look-at-this-book-you-will-like-because-we-know-you-have-been-reading", and "necessary-operating-system-updated-for-your-convenience-which-is-only-so-we-can-show-you-more-adverts!" crap and it stripped down to its original Linux kernel. And it became FAST! And it became CONVENIENT! Hooked it up to Calibre, and now it's a dream. I've already looked on iFixit how to replace the battery if it dies (did see a solar conversion there I might try ☺), because I"ve the sneaky feeling that the newer Kobos will have this "good software flaw" ironed out on their newer versions...

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                Re: Par for the course

                I have a Kobo Aura One and love it. It's rarely online and never nags. The screen is great and the reader app is by the far the best I've come across in what you can set (type size but also line height and margins) and what you see. I have bought a couple of books from the Kobo store, and the preview function is quite nice but generally by the books, strip the DRM (using Epubor) and copy them over, either with Calibre or just onto the device. Once you've stripped the DRM, you can also fix things like typos, missing cover images, stupid default font-size settings or margins, or resize any pictures so that you can actually recognise things in them. When I've fixed typos I've also informed the publishers.

                And Kobo's customer service is pretty good, once you get through the menus. I had a potential problem with the USB-port and they arranged a swap with very little fuss. Yes, this is only what you should expect, but still.

                Most software updates have also been pretty good. Re. the Touch, there's an important one this year that fixes a wifi bug.

                Anyway since I bought the Aura One I've bought an read more books than in the 10 years before. The missus has my old Touch (2011) and is very happy with it. Haven't really seen anything in the same format that would suggest a replacement.

              2. vulture65537

                Re: Par for the course

                > SHMBO

                Relative of SWMBO?

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Par for the course

              "The new ones force you buy books from their website (not even alternatives) so its a book reader with very limited book choice excluding all the classics that should be free."

              The store application on it only integrates with the Kobo store, yes - that's kinda a given. However, the device supports Adobe's DRM, so you can use Adobe Digital Editions to authorise it and put any Adobe DRM'd content on it you want. You can also sideload any non-DRM'd content onto it. My Aura One has nearly 300 books on it - two were purchaed from the Kobo store, and the others are DRM-free books purchased from other retailers and side-loaded. None of the above information is hard to find (it's on Kobo's site under FAQ, IIRC) ...

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Par for the course

          I have done the same with the IET wiring regulations and onsite guides... Bought the physical copies, but the pirated "3.99 on ebay" pdf's are on my phone.

    2. KLane

      Re: Par for the course

      I have been using Apress books for some time. Even though their library doesn't have everything I need, they allow you to buy/download PDF versions of the book. They are DRM-free, just signed in the footer of each page with the e-mail name from your account. That's it....

  4. DJ

    Why stop there?

    Books today, music tomorrow?

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Why stop there?

      Books today, music tomorrow?

      Let's put it as clearly as possible:

      Books today, everything they can get their bloody hands on tomorrow.

      Notice there's no question mark?

      This is just another part of a putsch by the Microsoft Corporation that aims to eventually encompass and control everything digital and if we let it, it will.

      By then it will be far too late.

      ---

      Dominance is the M$ path to everything and it is exactly where they are heading.

      Has everyone forgotten everything that has happened in the last 30 years?

      MS is slowly but steadily wrapping its slimy tentacles around Linux with this WSLinux, their acquisition of Github being another part of the scheme and Poettering a prime suspect in my book.

      The writing has been on the wall forever ...

      ---

      This e-book shutdown is just another part of that scheme.

      O.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why stop there?

        well, there's already talk about new-disruptive ideas, e.g. that you don't own your car. Sure, nothing new here, but certainly, car rentals are a minority against ownership and those clever people are looking at scale. And if car ownership falls sharply against "rental" model, why stop there, bro, there's profit to be made in other fields...

        And software subscription is slowly, but steadily creeping up, starting with the biggest brands, like office or photoshop. 20 years ago, adobe would have tanked, not on technology, but on customer-perception, but now it's nothing unusual so why not extend it to other areas? PROFIT ahoy...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why stop there?

          "20 years ago, adobe would have tanked, not on technology, but on customer-perception"

          For some of us all that stuff has already tanked, at least as far as we can avoid it. With FOSS we can avoid a very great deal of it and take a view on what of the rest we actually need.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why stop there?

          "car rentals are a minority against ownership"

          In the UK, 90% of new car sales are on PCP (hire) ...

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Why stop there?

            Does that say anything about private car ownership, though? In the US, anyway, the vast majority of car owners bought them used.

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: Why stop there?

      You have it the wrong way around... Remember Zune?

    3. James Anderson Silver badge

      Re: Why stop there?

      Already happened -- microsoft has already ditched its Groove music service, although the player software is still loaded with every Windows 10 update.

      On the business side there are several companies forced to rewrite complex million dollar systems because MS ditched Windows Phone.

      The basic rule at MS seems to be if it doesn't make tones of money then ditch it and screw the customers.

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Alert

    Precedent?

    What happens to the MS OS when they decide to change the product? Basically, one rents Win10 (license they call it) for a year. There's more to this ebooks thing than meets they eye I think.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Precedent?

      When?

      That ship has sailed. Over the horizon and the edge of the disc.

  6. Preacher666

    Dont need DRM

    I have for years got my sci fi books from Baen publishers, from the beginning they have refused to use DRM. Even their books on Amazon are listed as without DRM.

    And there reason by not paying for the DRM technology they can give better royalies to the writer...…..

    1. John McCallum

      Re: Dont need DRM

      The Barnes and Nobel eBooks in the UK were sold to Sainsbury Entertainment and they then sold those to Kobo. The other Non DRM eBook seller is Tor they did this about three years ago I wish other publishers would follow suit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have for years got my sci fi books from Baen publishers

      "I have for years got my sci fi books from Baen publishers"

      When I go to the site I see:

      "You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website."

      which I generally regard as an injunction not to use the site.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have for years got my sci fi books from Baen publishers

        ah, but it's BEAUTIFUL / COOL / LOOK / LOVELY PIX / BLAH / BLAH / BLAH.

        Clearly it works, so blame the idiots who fall for it.

    3. Chris G Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Dont need DRM

      Baen books are excellent, I have been subscribed to them for getting on for two decades.

  7. Mike Lewis

    When I buy an ebook, I remove the DRM with Calibre or download a pirated copy so I can keep the book and because the Moon+ Reader Pro app for Android is much better than Amazon's Kindle app.

    1. itzman

      DRM removal and calibre

      I never found a way to remove DRM from many titles.

      Id happily buy the e-books if I COULD remove DRM.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: DRM removal and calibre

        I never found a way to remove DRM from many titles.

        Screenshot button/camera pointed at the screen, and some really good OCR software? Oh, and a somewhat OCD level of dedication as well, if the book is large enough! :)

      2. Colin Bull 1
        Happy

        Re: DRM removal and calibre

        I have a Kindle, the other half a Kobo. I buy DRM'd books from both. They are both loaded into Calibre which allows unlocking and transfer to the other device. It is a bit of a faff, but I find it worthwhile.

        Kindle books must be downloaded to a PC. Then Calibre has no trouble with them.

        Kobo books are de-drmed with a Kobo plugin called Obok de-drm.

        I find calibre is a major benefit for ebooks and I donate regularly as it is a free install and updates are made every couple of weeks.

        Microsoft have form on this issue I once foolishly downloaded some films that needed MS DRM servers and they just shut them down with no warning and this was about 10 years ago.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: DRM removal and calibre

        You can often remove the DRM youself but it does depend upon the scheme used and its version: the move to Adobe DRM v3 broke a lot of previous approaches. Calibre does support some plugins but the last I tried it failed. I use Epubor which quickly and easily strips the DRM from Kobo and Adobe (there's also one for Audible). Yes, there is irony in paying for something to strip the DRM, but I am doing this really to strip the DRM. It also makes it easier, of course, to share a book with friends and family, which I'd also do with a physical book, even though you're supposed not to do this either. In end effect I'm buying more books, acting largely within German law which explicitly allows you to make copies, so my conscience is reasonably clear.

      4. phuzz Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: DRM removal and calibre

        I'm guessing our glorious vulture overlords would prefer me not to link directly, but spend two minutes with a search engine and you'll find solutions for removing the DRM from pretty much any ebook.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    That's not only DRM, it's the whole subscription model...

    ... as software that stops to run when the subscription expires.

    BTW, Idera/Embacardero, the company actually owner of Delphi/C++ Builder, no longer bumps the installation counters for old versions you actually bought (perpetual licenses), unless you buy one of their very expensive maintenance plans that became compulsory with the recent versions.

    So you if re-install on a new computer and you have reached the max installations counter - you may be out of luck (of course, luck could be helped, somehow).

    While I understand the need of anti-piracy systems, turning them against paying users in the desperate attempt to get some more money will never end well.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: That's not only DRM, it's the whole subscription model...

      "BTW, Idera/Embacardero, the company actually owner of Delphi/C++ Builder, no longer bumps the installation counters for old versions you actually bought (perpetual licenses), unless you buy one of their very expensive maintenance plans that became compulsory with the recent versions."

      Free Pascal & Lazarus. Bye bye Windows, bye by Embacardero

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: That's not only DRM, it's the whole subscription model...

        Free Pascal & Lazarus. Bye bye Windows, bye by Embacardero

        YAY! Glad to know I'm not alone! I thought I was the only remaining Pascal programmer out there!

        As someone who did a lot of work in TP6 then skipped basically everything for 20 years, I found FP&L quite easy to get back in to. Being somewhat cross-platform also helped with my largest programming project in recent years which had to be run on a Windows machine (but the code could be written on something much nicer :) )

        Was happy to find something I could sit down at after a long break and still whip out a reasonable program in a little over a weekend (thankfully console only - I am the ultimate engineer when it comes to UI styling! :) )

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's not only DRM, it's the whole subscription model...

      software that stops to run when the subscription expires

      This happened at a school I taught at. Students with e.g. dyslexia did their exams on laptops. The site license for Microsoft Office expired just before GCSEs started.

      They weren't allowed to use Google Docs (internet connection required), Notepad (for unknown reasons) or LibreOffice ("our lawyers don't agree with the GPL since there's nobody to sue if things go wrong" - I'm not even kidding). And the IT budget was all used up.

      Never found out what they ended up doing...

  9. Red Ted
    FAIL

    It's a book

    You read it, you put it down, you make notes in the margin, you stick labels on the important pages. You shouldn't need to charge it, or have it vanish from your bookshelf when someone's server gets turned off.

    As summed up by this book.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: It's a book

      Is there a Kindle version?

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It's a book

      How many of those can I pack along with my things into a 20-lb. Carry-on limit? And yes, my vacations tend to be lengthy.

    3. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: It's a book

      You read it, you put it down, you make notes in the margin, you stick labels on the important pages. You shouldn't need to charge it, or have it vanish from your bookshelf when someone's server gets turned off.

      IN recent times I had well over 2,000 computer (inc laptops and tablets) service manuals, around 150 car service manuals, 100 motor mower service manuals (I inherited that lot ok?) and over 500 motorbike service manuals. I also have 3 or 4 Bible's and a couple of hundred related books. Can you even begin to imagine how much shelf space that would take in print? Also it's a lot quicker to search an electronic book than it is a print one.

      I have a couple of dozen printed manuals that take up a large amount of shelf space. Some computer manuals seem to require an entire room just for the bloody index!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's a book

      "You read it, you put it down, you make notes in the margin, you stick labels on the important pages. You shouldn't need to charge it"

      I like paper books, too. However, if it doesn't have pictures in it, I'm almost certainly buying an electronic copy. Why? I live in south-east England, where a "large" house is 100m2, and don't have the space for lots of physical books ...

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: It's a book

        I just have age-degrading near vision, especially in low light.

        So e-readers are wonderful where a printed publication would be unusable.

  10. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    What - Reg Hacks not including obligatory reference to Micro$oft's prior for this offence ? Just ask a Zune user how good it is. "Note Content that was purchased with DRM may not play if the license can’t be renewed."

  11. SkippyBing Silver badge

    What I find odd about this is that Microsoft still seem to be running the server that verifies your Flight Simulator licence* when you install it, and that was released in 2006. So how hard up are they that they can't run a DRM server?!

    *For testing reasons I had to install it a couple of months ago so it definitely worked then.

    1. Ogi
      Thumb Down

      I don't think this is a technical limitation. I.e. I don't think MS can't sustain running the DRM servers. Like you mentioned, for MS'es own software (which it owns the copyright for), it can keep the DRM servers up for more than a decade.

      I suspect it is to do with licensing. MS themselves licensed the right to sell licences of those books (sub licence) to the end users from the copyright owners.

      Probably that is coming to an end, MS is not interested in renewing their licence for whatever reasons, and as such they must pull all versions of the copyrighted text, including from those who sublicensed them.

      Remember, you didn't buy the book, you bought a licence to read the book, which is now being revoked, and you get your money back.

      This is the way copyright works, but the lack of DRM made it very hard to be enforced in the past. Now DRM has made it possible, it is being used, unless you want to be a pirate.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Knowing microshaft, I get the feeling that sometime in the not too distant future they will announce that ' we have listened to our customers and we are bringing back ebooks' .

        They will then go on to explain how fantastic your new user experience will be with the new more expensive annual licence fee.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: This is the way copyright works

        No it is not. The way copyright works is that the person writing a book has a copyright on it. The seller is generally not the writer, and if writer and seller have a falling out, the book I bought is still mine and no one can take it away from me.

  12. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    I hated the idea of eBooks with DRM for just this reason, until I experimented with tools that address the DRM problem. Now I'm happy, and my Kindle is full, and I buy lots of DRM-encumbered stuff from multiple vendors, un-encumber the purchases, and combine the lot into a single large library.

    eBooks aren't the problem, DRM is. DRM can be removed.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      ... and that's it in a nutshell - those who know about things can remove the DRM. It doesn't affect piracy.

      Like with movies you buy that don't let you skip the adverts or the anti-pirating warnings (doh. pirate versions don't show those), it's the legitimate paying customers that suffer.

      Treat your customer as a criminal, and don't expect them to respect you.

      It's not always the fault of the companies themselves. Subscribe to Netflx? Enjoy your collection of "The (US) office"?

      Well, tough, that is going soon. Netflix has lost the rights. We're not even talking new shows, but the back catalogue wil no longer be available, as studios are now opening their own streaming services.

      Their greed will stop the legal streaming models successes over piracy. Who's going to subscribe to netflix/amazon/bbc-box/disney+/nbc/sky just to get all the programs? https://www.wired.com/story/netflix-the-office-streaming-wars/

      The whole model is a house of cards, and not technically, but due to the short-sighted greed of the big media companies still stuck in the past.

      I remember some web site pointing out that (paraphrased) "originally, singers and musicians used to make their modest living performing. It's only due to the invention of recording devices that the silly money came in - and only then because the recording process was so expensive. Those of them wanting to go back to the old times should realise that technology has simply caught up to create a more level playing field"

      Nope, I'll never buy anything with some sort of call-back drm on it. If I'm paying money, I expect it to last as long as I want it to.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "the short-sighted greed of the big media companies still stuck in the past."

        Part of the past was the reinvention of physical media. Vinyl replaced shellac. Cassette replaced vinyl to some extent (with the slight problem that you could re-record your own copies of the vinyl). CD replaced vinyl and cassette. Each time they counted on being able to sell you another copy of what you'd already bought. The lack of a new physical distribution medium to replace CD together with the arrival of the means for users to rip the CD and transfer it to whatever digital store they want has hit them badly.

  13. Wade Burchette

    DRM is like a hard kick in the groin of consumers. Big Media says they need to stop piracy, but its record in stopping piracy is 0-for-everything. A far more effective system would be to eliminate DRM and encourage people to be paying customers. You do this by making setting reasonable prices and making it easy for people to use your product. For books and music, this means making it easy to transfer from device to device. For movies, this means that as soon as I put the disc in, the movie goes straight to the home menu or straight to the movie itself. Under no circumstances at any time or for any reason will there be trailers, unskippable anti-piracy warnings, unskippable "the commentary may not reflect the opinions of the studio" nonsense, or unskippable reason why the movie was rated as such. When you push play, it plays immediately.

    I agree piracy is wrong. But the solution to piracy is not, nor ever will be, to punish law abiding people while mildly and temporarily inconveniencing pirates.

    1. FatGerman

      Absolutely. Give me a product I want and I will give you my money. Wrap that product in shit and I will find a version with the shit cleaned off.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Spotted a typo.

      "But the solution to piracy is not, nor ever will be, usually to punish law abiding people while mildly and temporarily inconveniencing pirates."

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Spotted a typo.

        "But the solution to piracy is not, nor ever will be, usually to punish law abiding people while mildly and temporarily inconveniencing pirates."

        Funny how that works elsewhere as well.. Look at NZ's knee-jerk changes to the gun laws - law abiding citizens are punished while crims may actually find it easier to get their hands on those 'nasty guns'.

        Hate speech laws - if I want to saw nasty things to someone I'll say nasty things to that person, screw the law. Meanwhile, John Goodcitizen can't lovingly say to his boyfriend 'You're one disgusting faggot - and I love that about you!' without committing a crime.

        KP laws - kids are disappearing from TV and adverts in case some nonce might just get the hots for them and go for 'a quick shower'. Do you think it'll really stop or even slow someone who is into KP?

        Speeding laws - during holiday weekends we get a stupid law where the cops can stop and ticket you for speeding for being a mere 4km over the limit. There's evidence to suggest this has been causing more accidents than it prevents as people are less focused on the road and more focused on their speedometer. Those who strive to be good drivers yet stray a little over, or forget certain country roads have a much lower speed limit than they normally would, get pinged. Meanwhile, the person with advance warning of the cop drives by, the txters drive by, the tailgaters and non-indicators drive by.

        Yep, punish the law-abiding and momentarily slow down a small few of the law breakers seems to be par for the course.

  14. WolfFan Silver badge

    DRM should be banned

    The first thing I do when I get an ebook is to de-DRM it, usually using one of the tools available for calibre. I then make an EPUB version in calibre it it wasn't EPUB in the first place, and I copy the EPUB to the Books folder I created on both DropBox and OneDrive. I now have _three_ copies of a DRM-free EPUB. There are multiple readers which can handle EPUB for iPad and Mac and Windows; calibre itself works on Mac and Windows, but not on iPad. (GPL3, I think...) In the event that the original, DRM-infected, copy goes away, I have at least three copies elsewhere and simply don't give a damn. Disk space is cheap and ebooks don't take up much storage.

    In addition, I usually don't buy DRM-infected books in the first place. Most of those DRM-infested books are technical books; books for entertainment, I usually get from publishers or authors who go out of their way to NOT have DRM on their books. I reward them for their behavior with money. It is trivial to get de-DRMed books online; certain USENET groups are full of them, for example. My current Strategic Book Reserve has enough books from legitimate sources to last me another decade at my current reading rate, so I have no need to steal books, but I could if I wanted to.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: DRM should be banned

      "calibre itself works on Mac and Windows"

      As well as on Linux? Live and learn.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: DRM should be banned

        It even works on FreeBSD too!

      2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Re: DRM should be banned

        Caliber is one program that’s free but which is so good that I’m willing to pay for it. Wireshark is another.

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Re: DRM should be banned

          Sorry, Calibre. Americanism slipping in there for some reason.

    2. Char Gar Gothakon

      Re: DRM should be banned

      +1 for mentioning Usenet as a source. The selection may be spotty at times but it is always interesting. Media companies have never found a way to make it go away because of its decentralized nature. I find Usenet useful (Usefulnet?) mostly for out of print materials I couldn't buy anyway.

      I'm one of those people who still prefer physical media because I can watch or listen to something without (I hope) being tracked. I hate the idea of watching a Thor movie and being bombarded with messages telling me I should watch the entire Marvel Universe set of movies because I had in interest in one of them. I believe I'm enough of an adult to know what I want to watch or listen to or read on my own. Discovery services are designed to get individuals to buy more media. No thank you. I can decide for myself.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "None of these consumer businesses are keen on clearly explaining the reality of digital goods because, well, it may stop you from buying them in the first place."

    Buying?

  16. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Slurp being Slurp

    Slurp is being tone deaf to consumers again. E-books are popular with consumers because reading them on a tablet or reader is often convenient. This particularly true for recreational reading of what would be pulp paperbacks. Often one wants to reread a book and it would be nice if the copy was still around. But Slurp fails to understand the consumer market and treats consumers as vermin. Not a winning strategy long term as people do not like being burned over and over.

  17. Claverhouse Silver badge

    For Their Own Protection

    I collect lots of free e-books just because. Never read them though because I have 1000s of real, paper, books to get through in my final decades.

    Of course, since the old ladies who run the country decided to obviate traditional books, even in libraries which went digital: until poor mental old Osborne decided even digital libraries were a luxury that couldn't be afforded ( like public lavatories in an effort to emulate those parts of America filled with homeless --- and he then even supplied the homeless ); and the old ladies who ran charity shops decided to obviate very very old books [ eg: those older than the year 2000 and not chick-flick ], I was lucky to be born in my time, when physical books were easy to obtain.

    Kids born after 2050 won't have such an easy reading life. And of course, may be required to have reading licenses.

  18. The Central Scrutinizer

    Paying customers who subvert digital restrictions management are breaking the law but companies that screw those same customers are not. Welcome to the locked down world of rented software, where your hard earned money actually buys you nothing. DRM restricted crap will never live on any of my devices. I have this quaint idea that when I pay for something, I actually own it. It's making my move to open source software some years ago look smarter every day.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      If it is clear that you license the right to use a work for a limited time, fine with me. Paying a fiver for the access to a film for 48 hours is not conceptually different to going to the cinema.

      The problem is the lack of clarity

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        Happy

        A fiver at the cinema, sure. Where they're paying for the high res 8k or whatever projector, the lights, the AC or heat, etc. If I have to pay for all of those things (purchasing whatever latest spying TV because of some revup in HDCP from the latest crack, for one) in my own flat, that fiver gets reduced by the value of those things plus the smaller screen, hassle of being threatened with prison and fines just for watching, etc.

        So that 48 hour view should be a few pence, or free because of the personal data collection that comes with a lot of modern DRM -- pay the access that way or provide a DRM-free copy for purchase, or I don't want to see your content.

        For now I make do with second and third hand DVDs/Blurays -- it's nice to know the studio isn't getting any more money from my viewing the content and good luck monetizing me with a never Internet connected older Bluray player.

        Audio CDs, though, I buy new at retail. Something about not having DRM and playing anywhere with open source software means they have intrinsic value. Like a paper book...

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Paying a fiver for the access to a film for 48 hours is not conceptually different to going to the cinema.

        Except it's less than half the cost before any food purchases!

  19. Winkypop Silver badge

    And people frequently laugh "who buys CDs?"

    But I always try and get the actual CD or Vinyl waaay before opting for download/streaming.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

      Re: And people frequently laugh "who buys CDs?"

      I prefer to rip my CDs to flac before buying DRM-free .mp3. A sound quality issue. Even though .MP3 got really good a few years ago (better than LAME encoder), I can occasionally still make out .MP3 compression artifacts. .OGG and .AAC are better, but I still prefer flac.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: And people frequently laugh "who buys CDs?"

      There are legitimate web sites that sell audio albums without DRM and lossy compression. Bandcamp and 7digital come to mind. It works for a phone with a giant microSD card and a headphone jack.

      I consider all DRM media to be one-shot rentals. I'll pay $15 to $20 for a good FLAC music album but I'm not touching anything with DRM unless it's around $3.

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: And people frequently laugh "who buys CDs?"

        That much? Remember the DRM also phones home and monetizes you, you're part of the product. I don't touch DRMed stuff unless it's at no cost to me and isn't wasting my time. Maybe 1-2 pence a view if it's got really high production values, a good cast and acting, and great plot, but I won't pay anything more that that for something that I can never share with anyone (i.e. loan it or invite someone over to watch with me) if the studio doesn't want it. Humans are eusocial creatures, studios forget this.

        I'd shell out a lot of hard cash for a DRM free version of the same content. Ah well, that DRM stuff is just making a lot of money for the studio anyway, right? /sarcasm

  20. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

    Why not watermarking it..

    You have so much space in those files, put the buyer name and order number into the file at several places. Maybe even encoded. Then you can track who put it up on edonkey & co. Better than DigitalRestrictionManagement which is destined to fail.

    There is a reason why www.gog.com is succesful.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why not watermarking it..

      It's been tried. Back when Palm did eBooks, the key to unlock your books was your credit card number . I'd have thought they would try some more subtle watermarking techniques such as space encoding or subtle errors and substitutions.

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Why not watermarking it..

      This was discussed on the cypherpunks list. Stenography is a great way to hide messages, but it is also near-trivial to disrupt. Whatever low-value bits are being used as the messaging channel can just be randomly overwritten.

      It seems there has been a couple of articles here over the years on the subject. Commercial efforts always run afoul this basic point.

  21. Aussie Doc
    Headmaster

    Free ebooks out there, too.

    Must admit for just about every genre I like to read I get my books from smashwords - free or you pay a small donation to the author.

    Also free-ebooks.net has a great range.

    I love real dead tree books, too, but my tablet holds 100's of ebooks for taking on the road to read.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Microsoft

    I bought Orifice 2010 off you. Actually I decided I'd let you borrow my money whilst I used your product. I've finished now so I'm returning the disks, wiping it off my PC and I now want my money back.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    those who "bought" "books" from MS deserve everything

    not even a "c-lit" 2.0 will save them. Yes, it's Schadenfreunde. But really what were those people thinking?

    ...

    Ah, they weren't... well, then see above.

  24. Mad Hobbit

    Well at least they are getting some type of refund

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Trollface

      Probably cheaper than defending against the class action lawsuit over unfair / illegal EULAs. And besides, Microsoft's had use of that money for all that time -- try getting a 0% loan on that scale from a standard bank!

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Yup

    Yup. Microsoft had a sports video service in the us some years back -- drm server killed off making the videos worthless. Zune -- drm server killed making purchases worthless. Microsoft honestly has a poor track record on these kind of things. I make sure if I get anything drmed I can crack it.

  26. Charles 9 Silver badge

    When it comes to DRM content, I make it a point to only RENT them. Because that's the end goal in any event: so that you can only rent things in future. And for those who think no DRM will bring repeat pull, what happened to Kirby and Electrolux?

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Big Brother

      I take it one step further into the future that Google etc. pioneered. I won't pay anything to rent a DRMed work, I expect the rental fee to come from the (unwanted but unstoppable) monetization of my personal data (e.g. viewing habits etc.).

      Hey, the content studios wanted this future. Hope they like "earning" a fraction of what they would have without DRM and without Google's personal data exchange model.

  27. itzman
    Facepalm

    DRM is so successful...

    ...that I have given up buying Ebooks

  28. Kiwi Silver badge
    Coat

    ????

    While a technologically savvy person will have considered the fact that buying an ebook with DRM means that it might stop working at some point in the future, you don't really expect it to happen, especially with a household name like Microsoft. But here we are.

    Sarcasm? Or has the quality of writing actually declined since the departure of AO?

    [Checks date, checks byline...]

    Normally a decent writer.

    And you're surprised by any DRM company screwing over the customers no longer supporting a format? Especially when it's MS?

    Did I miss a <sarcasm> tag somewhere????

    And as I'm doing a re-read of them and happened to come across this one earlier today, oblig xkcd

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    surely this comes under the manufactorer abandonment laws

    i.e. you are free to bring in a third party to continue maintenace where the manufacturer has dropped service

  30. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Same as for games, music and so on

    Pirated version: no problem

    Official and paid version: screwed.

    Something is rotten in the State of Copyrights.

  31. SailorSam

    This is not new.

    Strange but my .lrb books won't work on my Sony Reader...

  32. JayEmmay

    So hypothetically

    ...were I, err some unscrupulous person to buy a bunch of $5 books, put in a note e.g. "This is the problem with flat fees." in each Microsoft would pay me $30 each next week?

  33. mr-slappy
    WTF?

    What happens to the authors?

    I've co-authored an IT book and will have received a (small) royalty for every copy sold electronically. Am I now going to have the royalties deducted from my next royalty payment, even though people will have read our book? It's not exactly a life-changer but it doesn't seem fair to me.

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: What happens to the authors?

      Good question. Consider that if you had sold a DRM-free copy of that book (after e.g. making the user agree not to copy it and watermarking it) you would have that money in your pocket regardless of what Microsoft does here.

      DRM-free media works in the interests of authors too. DRM-free media mainly works against the interests of the large publishing houses that hoard content.

  34. JulieM Silver badge

    Microsoft being the good guy for once?

    There really needs to be a non-ignorable story like this, in which people get hurt, just so the whole affair can stand as a bright "NEVER AGAIN" warning to all succeeding generations.

    It's just possible that this stunt will be the one that finally turns people against the whole idea of DRM.

    It's also interesting that Microsoft are refunding customers' money -- it's almost as if they want to make sure they don't end up creating a precedent through a court ruling that bypassing faulty DRM in order to access content that is rightfully yours but your access is being blocked by a problem with the Digital Restrictions Management is legal. (There's already precedent that if you find something that was lost or stolen after you claimed on your insurance for it, it becomes the property of the insurance company. If you've been refunded for a digital download which has been treated as lost/stolen, you were supposed to buy another with the refund money, and the bits of the broken one don't belong to you anymore.)

    If I was feeling charitable towards Microsoft, I might think they were taking one for the team, and doing this to cast DRM in a bad light.

  35. Reeder

    another DRM story

    Many moons ago I purchased a digital book from Borders and was assured that I would be able to read it because it used Adobe digital rights. Well, they forgot to mention the digital rights were only as good as the company paying for the digital rights server availability. When Border was bought out/taken over by BooksaMillion, my ability to read the book vanished. I've never been able to convince BAM that I legally bought the book despite having a store recipt, and verified credit card purchase receipt. so now I only buy paperbacks or find paper or hard back books at the thrift store (goodwill is very well stocked) or our library. They may be a bit worse for wear - but I can read them any time I want. My only problem is the size but since they are mine to read when and wherever I want to, I don't mind. I use library eBooks when I need to (when space/weight is an issue) because I can return them within 1 to 3 weeks....But DRM stripping software does a a nice ring to is!

  36. The Brave Sir Robin

    They have previous....

    Microsoft are always jumping on a bandwagon that others have already made a success. They persuade some people, but not enough of them, into buying things from that bandwagon, then they pull the plug when it inevitably fails as they were too late into the market. It is only really safe to buy into MS stuff when they already have the market sown up and they are the leader.

  37. Marty McFly
    FAIL

    Funny coincidence!

    Last night, I was shopping on-line for a particular book. $10.99 in paperback, shipped to me in two days via Amazon Prime. $13.99 in Kindle.

    Let's see.... Option 1 includes printing, inventory, and shipping costs. Option 2 has far less overhead for the seller, and can be revoked at any time. Guess which one I chose?

    1. Chunky Munky
      Holmes

      Re: Funny coincidence!

      I'm seeing this regularly. Amazon charges £X for a book in dead tree format or £X + y% for the kindle version. That's the point where I jump onto abebooks and can usually buy a good used copy for £X - 75%. Ok, it may take a week or two to get to me, but I can live with that

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