(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Zune Doesn't Play For Sure

from the oh-that? dept

This had been rumored for quite some time, but as the EFF is noting, it's fairly stunning that Microsoft's super hyped up portable entertainment device, Zune, isn't even compatible with protected Windows Media files that use Microsoft's own "PlaysForSure" copy protection. Yes, that's right. All of the content that people bought on services like Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo, Movielink or Cinemanow that they figured would continue to be supported by everyone outside of Apple... just discovered that Microsoft has cut them off. Yes, it's true that PlaysForSure is now hacked so that people can convert those files, but that's a pain. Just as amazing is that most of the press seems to be skipping over this "little" detail -- though, perhaps that's just an indication of how few people were actually customers of these services that offered PlaysForSure content. Either way, this seems like even more of a reason that Microsoft would be better off not trying to patch the technology -- as leaving it open only will make their own devices more valuable. Also, it's worth noting that nothing seems to have come of the rumor that Microsoft was also planning to pay for you to repurchase all your iTunes songs, either. Update: Apparently, some are also realizing that since Zune adds its own DRM to things, it's probably violating Creative Commons licenses.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    WRM, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 2:54pm

    Just a matter of time before somebody creates a "patch" to take care of the DRM entirely... then comes a linux distro and voila: a real portable system...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Robio, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 3:13pm

    If it runs any type of Microsft made program like many pda's do. I give it to weeks till someone has ported linux on the zune. Do I hear uzuneto?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mac for sure, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 3:17pm


    Apple wins again, can't say I'm surprised. You could almost hear microsoft yelling at their employees to hurry up and get it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    roflcopter, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    You missed the best part...

    The Zune player automatically applies DRM, even to content that you create. Yes, I'm serious.

    So, let's say you create a song, and want to share it with your friend. Okay, so far so good. But now, your friend has only three plays or three days, whichever comes first, to listen to it. (Even if it's a non-copyrighted song that you created and wish to share entirely free of any sort of restrictions).

    It's so horrible and retarded and counter to their stated vision for Zune that I can't even begin to fathom how they could have possibly thought people wouldn't hate this.

    Also, gratz on locking out all the honest people who actually signed up for online music. Way to alienate the early-adopters, the very people you will need if you want to get this off the ground.

    I'm still stunned by how utterly backwards the entire thing is. There's no "community" here. All I'm seeing is a heavy-petting session between Big Content and an increasingly desperate Microsoft entertainment division.

    See you next Christmas, boys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    speculatrix, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 3:56pm

    so what's so special?

    so basically, it's an mp3 player with a radio, and a wifi adaptor? and we're meant to be impressed?

    just take an mp3 player with usb host, connect an asus wll-hdd wireless hard drive caddy and you're there! Ok, so you zune is better integrated.

    watch out for the next iriver or other top media player to come with bluetooth2.1 or wifi so you can upload/download without cables, and it'll be far superior.

    we europeans are still waiting for a decent hard-drive player with DAB (digital) radio, that's the killer app.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    claire rand, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 4:18pm

    and the point of all this is?

    given i have a 256meg usb key, that also happens to play mp3 files if i plug headphones into it (along with an AAA battery), which while it doesn't hold a huge number of files holds 'enough'.

    and for when 'enough' isn't my phone can take a 1GB memory stick which should provide a few more songs, especially at 30kbps (no point going better since my office isn't silent anyway).

    and that both of these devices work as plug in hard drives, so i don't need fancy software....

    I'm failing to see the market for yet another of these devices, frankly my phone has a 3.2mega pixel cam, 70 meg ram & the above mentioned card slot, and a radio. (not digital, but you can't have everything - yet)

    in the 16 or so months the contracts got left to run i dare say a digital radio will be standard. yes the phone can't play stuff from iTunes, who cares I have a pc with a cd-drive and a broadband connection. if i can listen to it it can be turned into an mp3.

    apparently the slot in my phone 'supports' upto a 32 meg memory card (never seen one though), if it had a DAB radio... magic

    oh yes and its 30 quid a month.. yawn.. my last phone was more and did less, plus I'd have the phone anyway so effectivly the camera, mp3 player and radio don't cost anything.

    I don't see a future in which I'll be buying an iPod or zune or whatever.

    even if it lacked all forms of DRM, and could play anything, I'd *still* have no real need for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Spyvie, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 4:26pm

    Re: and the point of all this is?

    You're listening to music @ 30kbps?

    Sorry, you've lost all credibility

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    MusicMan, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 4:53pm

    Ouch! I was looking forward to this... but brown and no PlayforSure compatibility with my Rhapsody account.

    What are they smoking in redmond!!!

    This may be one of the bigger failures for MS ... PlayforSure kills iTunes because of the choice.. No value in trading Apple for Microsoft only solutions.

    I will still be sending friends toward a Creative Zen product all the way!!!!

    This MS fan.. thinks Zume team is LAME!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jeptha, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 4:55pm

    30kbps? Ha I lol !!!!!

    Yeah he has no idea! Ipod rules @ any kbps. I prefer 192 kbps because i like quality but lack hard drivespace

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jeptha, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    MS Fan?

    There went your cred.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Dude, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 5:40pm

    Redmond Police Raid Microsoft

    SEPT 2006 - Redmond, WA Redmond police raided the Microsoft offices where the Zume player team is located. They found all the famous free soda and beer had been replaced with Crack.

    Redmond Police Chief Joe Friday said "We didn't need a tip, or even a warrant. The Zume player design was clearly evidence someone was smoking crack. A brown colored player might have been evidence of a little harmless pot smoking. But brown and incompatible with other Microsoft music formats. It was clear that they had done enough drugs to think they worked for Apple. We had no choice but to act in the interest of the public and Microsoft stockholders"

    No one at Microsoft could be reached for comment, but rumors are that the offices will be cleaned out and turned over to the group in charge of Microsoft BOB 2007.

    AP - Seattle Bureau

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    A chicken passeth by, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 6:30pm

    Get an old WM2003 pocketPC phone and a memory card - cheaper than the Zune, plays near anything, doesn't auto-DRM your files. It's a pity people still only go for shinyyyyyy new things which turn out to do less after all this time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    indi, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 7:27pm


    My Ipod is still going, it has wireless broadcast with my itrip to fm receivers.
    I use it to show clients websites and images etc..
    40gig 5th gen colour

    The whole thing was a tax deduction.

    MY media centre is a 350mhz mac with panther, try doing that with Vista and you will find about about HDCP, microslop doesn't want you to watch High Definition Content unless you have a hardware card.

    I wont be buying one, nor many MS products much any more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    ScytheNoire, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 7:50pm

    speak with your wallets

    i'm just going to let my money speak for me. i refuse to buy any MP3 player that has any DRM scheme. i refuse to buy online music with DRM. i refuse to buy any CD with DRM. i refuse to buy any next-gen HD optical format that has DRM.

    there will always be alternatives out there to DRM, and i will go with those. i don't care if the "studios" or corrupt politicians think downloading is illegal, because i feel their draconian DRM schemes are illegal and go against laws set up years ago to prevent this type of corporate control of creative content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    rijit (profile), Sep 15th, 2006 @ 8:13pm

    speak with your wallets by ScytheNoire

    What he said.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Axi0n, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 8:29pm

    Playsforsure was a joke in its first right...

    It was a candy @ss solution from the "Band-Aid" (TM) company known as Microsoft...

    To be honest... I have no issues with buying music... But I also have no moral dilema with feeling what I buy and can hold is now my possession assuming I don't spread it for free to everyone and their dog...

    With the analog sound quality output of some soundcards and assuming that sure if we all want to be gratuitious gluttons we could have a 300+ Gb mp3 / wma / aac collection...

    But despite it all... and with the exception of the true elitist / audiophile / ecclectic personality who is in that odd demographic who enjoys and listens to all genres of music across a wide time span... Most of the populace is nothing more than an MTV whore who downloads the top 40 as it changes week to week and not a whole lot more... The age of truly sitting in a record store and absorbing / listening to never been heard indie / white label artists is waning...

    That is most of the problem... The artists that want to be heard would never endorse or allow these fascist protections... The artists / labels that do are the ones that force feed to the music lemmings MTV generation via payola radio play and million dollar promo ad / tour campaigns...

    Maybe I am jaded but as a DJ I have to invest time into going deep into the nobodies looking for the next something instead of looking at the old somebodies who vomit up garbage and having it go to the charts just because of their name...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 9:14pm


    Most of the populace is nothing more than an MTV whore who downloads the top 40 as it changes week to week and not a whole lot more...

    Uh, no. That is just you. Ok, maybe you and your particular circle fo friends. But definitely not most of toe populace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    HotGarbage, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 10:07pm

    Re: You missed the best part...

    You are exactly right. They have alienated the very people that they need to even have a chance at being sucessful at this. This is a classic example, once again, of Microsoft biting the hand that feeds them. But this shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone by now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2006 @ 10:33pm

    Well - simple enough - I know not to buy one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Tek'a, Sep 16th, 2006 @ 1:06am

    but it had such a Chance!

    so many Glints of good ideas!

    like wifi built in.

    possible Good idea would have you setting up local area streaming radio stations off your mp3 device (with no local caching. probably easier that way anyhow) how awesome would that make public places?

    and in the Zune Incarnation.. we have limited transmission and DRM with 3play3day being pushed onto all content.. thats.. less groovy.

    its like they imagined the most custumer friendly plan.. and carefully built their system to make sure it wouldnt happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    10layers, Sep 16th, 2006 @ 4:52am

    This pretty much means PlaysForSure is dead. The likely outcome of this seems rather obvious. Microsoft appears to have a good, but not great, offering in Zune. They are probably unlikely to make any significant dent in Apple’s market share as things stand today. Instead, it is likely that Zune’s market share will be at the expense of the iPod competitors/the iPod killers/the PlaysForSure license holders. While Zune may not be an iPod killer, it is likely to become an iPod-killer killer. Microsoft has just shafted not only its music store and music player manufacturer partners, but also customers who have invested in PlaysForSure players and music. We are covering this in Zune: the iPod-killer killer

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Greg, Sep 16th, 2006 @ 6:45am

    What the hell, Microsoft? Is there any possible way that this isn't a terrible idea?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Cleverboy, Sep 16th, 2006 @ 9:07am

    Jobs stuck with buy-to-own, now Microsoft forced t

    Bill Gates touted that music "rentals" was THE model that will overtake Apple and set things apart. Some people bought into this and sit happily with strings attached to each song in their album... ready to be yanked back at any time. --At first I didn't get it. When I heard Zune will allow people to download all the music in their iTunes library to the new platform... I thought... "WHAT, are people on crack??? Of course they can do this... its All-You-Can-Eat in the first place, where the story there? Reading an iTunes index? Come now." Then, as the story continues to evolve... ah, it becomes clearer. Microsoft is creating a whole NEW platform, incompatible with PlaysForSure, still allowing "rentals" but pushing/favoring purchases that have wider usage rights (like Apple). Converting "purchases" (IE burnable songs) to "purchases" on the Zune platform (for which MS must pay the content holders) is clearly a power move.

    People accepted Apple's "walled garden" because they did it "right" out of the gate. How many will accept a "new" walled garden, if they know with absolute certainty, that NOTHING they buy on the Zune platform will likely be supported if they ever went back to a next generation iPod or... heaven forbid, switched to the Mac.

    Well. Until the sky cracks open, I'll keep planning a free-your-music information site. Given consumer complacency, the war's about to get darker before it gets any brighter. I can't believe people are still running Windows 95 and 98. 10 years from now, we'll be feeling the fall out of this MS run fracture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Thomas, Sep 16th, 2006 @ 6:48pm

    Lol the Zune looked pretty good until I read this. Big screwup IMO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    anon cow, Sep 17th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    Re: C'mon

    This is not a win for Apple. It will educate consumers that what has happened with MS could happen to any product that uses DRM. Whether it be MS or Apple, DRM gives the corporation the ability to screw you long after you have made your investment in hardware and technology.

    The only winner is the anti-DRM lobby because MS just proved how anti-consumer DRM really is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    claire rand, Sep 17th, 2006 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: and the point of all this is?

    30kbps through a mobile phone speaker... maybe a bit higer through the headset, but with the background noise i can't tell the difference.. but i can get more songs loaded this way.

    my choice i figure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 5:34am

    Re: Zune

    There is no 40GB 5G iPod, and the FM transmitters make everything sound like ass. I used one for a while until I bought a new headunit in my car, with an aux. input jack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    tehdirtaddict, Sep 18th, 2006 @ 7:02am

    allofmp3 is the only winner here

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    zune, Sep 23rd, 2006 @ 6:01pm


    Microsoft is now reconsidering thier Playsforsure stance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    TheGuyLaughing@30kbps, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    Wow. Ha ha.

    So let me get this straight. You work in a particularly noisy environment and play music through the speaker ON your cell phone which is placed on your desk? What for? Is the speaker on your phone really that loud to out do your noisy environment? Why not use headphones? Why even bother to have music on it? Its not listening to 'music' per say. Its more like reminding yourself of some tune you'd enjoyed some time ago. So I guess the elevator (or the lift as they say over there) is your idea of a sound studio?

    30kps is like listening to your 57 Chevy's car radio with the windows rolled up and the doors shut with you standing OUTside. I'd get a better vibe 'n' jive from a Speak-n-Spell.

    If your going to enjoy art, ENJOY the ART. I'd listen to ticks-n-blips with as much glee as I would snapping a shot in an art gallery, setting it as the background pic, and then stringing the phone to a nail in the wall.

    My advice (and I'll pretend you care...) is to get a really good set of head phones (Sure EC4 or the like) that do a pretty damned good job at blocking out the background noise, stick the card in your PC or Mac at work and saving the battery on your phone for when you really need it.

    On a different note, I find it strangely ironic that so many phones lately do anything and everything (e-mail, web surfing, music playing and purchasing, GPS, camera, PC remote, watch T.V., etc) and STILL not do better than a half-a$$ed job at 'playing' phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Limeybloke, Oct 9th, 2006 @ 3:03am

    WiFi Smell . . .

    Wi fi in an MP3 player has always been a bad idea, takes too much battery power, cards are too baig as are the required aerials and it's just not designed with media functions in mind.

    I already use my Bluetooth phone as a remote for my Powerbook that pauses the song/DVD/Movie when a call comes in or when I leave the room.

    As Bluetooth 2 EDR starts getting put in phones etc (and in all Apple Laptops for the last year) it will bring good data rates, low power consumption and the ability for several devices to cooperate.

    Here's where it gets good. You're listening to music off your 6G BluePod through your stereo Bluetooth headset when your phone rings, tells your Bluepod to pause and temporarily takes over your headset. As you put the phone down the music starts again.

    Also the PlaysFor S**t DRM was already more draconian than Fairplay and the corporates want it more so. M$ is giving them what they want, but SteveJ won't do so and can get away with it because they are self-evidently the market leader.

    On the subject of convergence devices the reason that so many do a half assed job and they reason that iPods lack several in built features is that many things inherently don't go together or just complicate matters.

    As an example a Video Pod for movies would ideally have a large screen but also must be pocket sized, how? Oh, and cheaper than a laptop otherwise people will just use one of them as they already have a large battery, large screen and play DVD's.

    Designing UI's that do various things well and simply on limited screens without complicated input hardware is very difficult to get right. The iPod interface is a model of simplicity and elegance partly because it's just designed to do a few things well.

    As for the idiot with 30Kbps songs the reason for "complicated software" like the oh-so-complicated iTunes is that when you've got thousand of songs on your device managing songs is very important. unless you want to guess which of the two thousand 'Track One's in your long long list is the one you're looking for or want to spend ten minutes hitting the down button on the phone to get to that part of the list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Limeybloke, Oct 9th, 2006 @ 4:52pm


    Oh and yes, fellow UK dweller, I'd love a DAB radio inside but as our special friends over the Atlantic have yet to agree on a single digital radio standard ( or a compatible Digital Tv standard for that matter) it seems services like Sirius are the only likely ones to be included due to the cost of 'localising' hardware.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Terri in Kentucky, Jan 30th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    Returned our Zunes

    I returned my Zune and my daughter's that we received for Christmas. I got a Sansa and she wanted the Creative Zen. We are a lot happier now. Microsoft needs to wake up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Yvette, Jan 29th, 2009 @ 5:28pm

    my zume

    i brought a mp3 player n everytime i try 2 download anything in2 it it freezes. can some1 please help me wit this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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