Plays for Sure, Some Exceptions Apply

by on November 7, 2006 · 16 comments

The BBC confirms that Microsoft’s Zune platform and its “Plays for Sure” platform will be incompatible:

Microsoft has said it will stop selling music from MSN music from 14 November, when Zune goes on sale in the US.

But in a move that could alienate some customers, MSN-bought tracks will not be compatible with the new gadget.

The move could also spell problems for the makers of MP3 players which are built to work with the MSN store.

The problem has arisen because tracks from the MSN Music site are compatible with the specifications of the Plays For Sure initiative.

This was intended to re-assure consumers as it guaranteed that music bought from services backing it would work with players that supported it. MSN Music, Napster, AOL Music Now and Urge all backed Plays For Sure as did many players from hardware makers such as Archos, Creative, Dell and Iriver.

In a statement a Microsoft spokesperson said: “Since Zune is a separate offering that is not part of the Plays For Sure ecosystem, Zune content is not supported on Plays For Sure devices.”

Amazing.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    The actions of M$ further document that this is not really about piracy, but about locking the customer into a specific product line. What is really Disingenuous about this is that they promise a product but then dump you. If a company wants you to treat their property with respect, the same should apply to them. Anarchy anyone?

    The statement “The software giant said it would commit millions of dollars to making Zune a success” is particuliarly deceptive. What they don’t mention is all the users who will loose their investment dollars in incompatible music. Addtionally, M$ has willfully chosen to “discard” these customer rather than offer them a free option to convert to the new format. The is newspeak.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14019452 Steve R.

    The actions of M$ further document that this is not really about piracy, but about locking the customer into a specific product line. What is really Disingenuous about this is that they promise a product but then dump you. If a company wants you to treat their property with respect, the same should apply to them. Anarchy anyone?

    The statement “The software giant said it would commit millions of dollars to making Zune a success” is particuliarly deceptive. What they don’t mention is all the users who will loose their investment dollars in incompatible music. Addtionally, M$ has willfully chosen to “discard” these customer rather than offer them a free option to convert to the new format. The is newspeak.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    In the long and illustrious history of MS screwing their partners, this one probably has to take the cake, if only for the baldness of the screwing.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    In the long and illustrious history of MS screwing their partners, this one probably has to take the cake, if only for the baldness of the screwing.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    I went out and bought an iPod when I heard of Microsoft Zune’s specs. Several things surprised me:

    1)what is Microsoft’s business strategy, to acquire customers from other music players?
    2)Does Microsoft plan on a similar business model as, say the iPod (break even with music, profit off hardware and peripherals)
    3)Did Microsoft consider its current market position in the music player market (zero), and how it could catch up with other companies.

    These questions make me think we don’t know everything about Zune yet. MIcrosoft has to have something up its sleeve. If Microsoft plans a surprise, I hope its a good one…

    I’m happy with my iPod, and pretty surprised with Microsoft. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is an example of how DRM can hamper consumers though, since music fans can still listen to their MSN songs (including MP3 formats) on other players.

    If you don’t like a product like Zune, buy something else, but don’t compalin about the product you didn’t buy afterwards. Its kind of like test driving cars, when you finally decide on one, what does it matter to you those models you didn’t like.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    I went out and bought an iPod when I heard of Microsoft Zune’s specs. Several things surprised me:

    1)what is Microsoft’s business strategy, to acquire customers from other music players?
    2)Does Microsoft plan on a similar business model as, say the iPod (break even with music, profit off hardware and peripherals)
    3)Did Microsoft consider its current market position in the music player market (zero), and how it could catch up with other companies.

    These questions make me think we don’t know everything about Zune yet. MIcrosoft has to have something up its sleeve. If Microsoft plans a surprise, I hope its a good one…

    I’m happy with my iPod, and pretty surprised with Microsoft. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is an example of how DRM can hamper consumers though, since music fans can still listen to their MSN songs (including MP3 formats) on other players.

    If you don’t like a product like Zune, buy something else, but don’t compalin about the product you didn’t buy afterwards. Its kind of like test driving cars, when you finally decide on one, what does it matter to you those models you didn’t like.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Did Microsoft consider … how it could catch up with other companies.

    Going by their advertising, it seems like they honestly believe that their sharing stuff is cool enough that kids will pick it up. This isn’t completely unreasonable; the iPod has always been fundamentally uninnovative on the functionality front, gaining market share by integrating existing functionality really, really well. It isn’t surprising that they haven’t innovated; like in the early 80s with the Mac, their control over the hardware and lockdown of competition means that they face reduced competitive pressures and hence have less incentive to innovate.

    Unlike the 80s, though, Apple has control over people’s personal data (music purchases) now, which may allow them to beat MS this time around, as MS uses Office data lockin to beat Apple and Linux like a drum. In fact, DRM will be really critical for both sides. do current iPod owners have enough iTMS-bought music to prevent them from switching over? If the reports that the average iPod owner has bought only 30 songs from iTMS are true, and the Zune sharing feature isn’t too crippled by DRM, then we might see a lot of switching; if the average number of iTMS purchases has grown over the past couple years, or if the sharing feature’s DRM cripples the sharing so much as to make it uninteresting, then Zune will be DOA.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Did Microsoft consider … how it could catch up with other companies.

    Going by their advertising, it seems like they honestly believe that their sharing stuff is cool enough that kids will pick it up. This isn’t completely unreasonable; the iPod has always been fundamentally uninnovative on the functionality front, gaining market share by integrating existing functionality really, really well. It isn’t surprising that they haven’t innovated; like in the early 80s with the Mac, their control over the hardware and lockdown of competition means that they face reduced competitive pressures and hence have less incentive to innovate.

    Unlike the 80s, though, Apple has control over people’s personal data (music purchases) now, which may allow them to beat MS this time around, as MS uses Office data lockin to beat Apple and Linux like a drum. In fact, DRM will be really critical for both sides. do current iPod owners have enough iTMS-bought music to prevent them from switching over? If the reports that the average iPod owner has bought only 30 songs from iTMS are true, and the Zune sharing feature isn’t too crippled by DRM, then we might see a lot of switching; if the average number of iTMS purchases has grown over the past couple years, or if the sharing feature’s DRM cripples the sharing so much as to make it uninteresting, then Zune will be DOA.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Interesting tech cruch article on MS’s media plans today, by the way. I’d missed the Xbox tie-in- that may help lure people across from iPod/iTunes more quickly/easily than I’d assumed.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Interesting tech cruch article on MS’s media plans today, by the way. I’d missed the Xbox tie-in- that may help lure people across from iPod/iTunes more quickly/easily than I’d assumed.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    I found the following quote to be very humorous and an indicator that the public is aware that corporate America has gone over the rationale edge (cliff) concerning intellectual property. (from Wired News)

    “Future Licenses: By using Windows Vista, you agree to not only this license, but to any future revisions to this license. You also agree to any future licenses for other products from Microsoft, whether or not you actually purchase them, and to any revisions to those licenses, including terms that require you to agree to other licenses, and revisions to those licenses. You agree that if you attempt to not agree to these licenses, then you automatically agree to yet another license, and it’s a lot harsher than this license, so just watch yourself.”

    http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72085-0.htm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14019452 Steve R.

    I found the following quote to be very humorous and an indicator that the public is aware that corporate America has gone over the rationale edge (cliff) concerning intellectual property. (from Wired News)

    “Future Licenses: By using Windows Vista, you agree to not only this license, but to any future revisions to this license. You also agree to any future licenses for other products from Microsoft, whether or not you actually purchase them, and to any revisions to those licenses, including terms that require you to agree to other licenses, and revisions to those licenses. You agree that if you attempt to not agree to these licenses, then you automatically agree to yet another license, and it’s a lot harsher than this license, so just watch yourself.”

    http://www.wired.com/news/columns/0,72085-0.html?tw=rss.index

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Luis, I was hoping for some extraS from Microsoft Zune in the form of wireless song downloads from their music service, built in GPS navigation, the ability to harness static electricity from the atmosphere…

    Actually, Steve R, the article you cite doesn’t really say anything new. Unilateral changes to licenses and contracts occur at your gym, place of employment, everywhere you go. With technology, its prominent b/c firms have to continually upgrade and improve on their products. Continued use or performance under a license or contract is taken as acceptance of those uniltaral changes. If you like the “product,” but not the licensing changes, just remember the license IS THE PRODUCT.

    I haven’t looked at the wired article, but just pointing out that its making a lot out of something that we face everyday.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Luis, I was hoping for some extraS from Microsoft Zune in the form of wireless song downloads from their music service, built in GPS navigation, the ability to harness static electricity from the atmosphere…

    Actually, Steve R, the article you cite doesn’t really say anything new. Unilateral changes to licenses and contracts occur at your gym, place of employment, everywhere you go. With technology, its prominent b/c firms have to continually upgrade and improve on their products. Continued use or performance under a license or contract is taken as acceptance of those uniltaral changes. If you like the “product,” but not the licensing changes, just remember the license IS THE PRODUCT.

    I haven’t looked at the wired article, but just pointing out that its making a lot out of something that we face everyday.

  • http://www2.blogger.com/profile/14380731108416527657 Steve R.

    DAVID POGUE of the New York Times (11/9/2006)had a good review of the Zune Player. This is a good post in that he both discusses the technology and ethical aspects. Too many reviewers just talk about the bells and whistles of the technology and leave out any discussion of ethical lapses.

    My favorite quote: “Never mind all the poor slobs who bought big PlaysForSure music collections. Never mind the PlaysForSure companies who now find themselves competing with their former leader. Their reward for buying into Microsoft’s original vision? A great big “So long, suckas!””

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/09/technology/09

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14019452 Steve R.

    DAVID POGUE of the New York Times (11/9/2006)had a good review of the Zune Player. This is a good post in that he both discusses the technology and ethical aspects. Too many reviewers just talk about the bells and whistles of the technology and leave out any discussion of ethical lapses.

    My favorite quote: “Never mind all the poor slobs who bought big PlaysForSure music collections. Never mind the PlaysForSure companies who now find themselves competing with their former leader. Their reward for buying into Microsoft’s original vision? A great big “So long, suckas!””

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/09/technology/09pogue.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin

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