Microsoft PlaysForSurelyNot

Remember this rumor?
bq.To attract current iPod users Microsoft is going to let you download for free any songs you’ve already bought from the iTunes Music Store. They’ll actually scan iTunes for purchased tracks and then automatically add those to your account. Microsoft will still have to pay the rights-holders for the songs, but they believe it’ll be worth it to acquire converts to their new player. – “Peter Rojas(Microsoft planning WiFi-enabled portable media player, working on MVNO for next year)”:http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/06/microsoft-planning-wifi-enabled-portable-media-player-working-o/ Turned out, it was only a rumor. In fact, reality is quite a bit worse than we anticipated.
bq.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.” – “BBC(Zune problems for MSN customers)”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6120272.stm So not only are iTunes purchases not transferred to the Zune and not only are previous PlaysForSure purchases not playable on the Zune, but unwitting consumers could actually find that they have inadvertantly purchased music from the Zune Marketplace that is incompatible with their existing PlaysForSure collection and Music Player.
bq.Is Microsoft admitting, then, that PlaysForSure was a dud? All Mr. Erickson will say is, “PlaysForSure works for some people, but it’s not as easy as the Zune.” So now Microsoft is starting over. 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!” It was bad enough when there were two incompatible copy-protection standards: iTunes and PlaysForSure. Now there will be three. – “David Pogue(Trying Out the Zune: IPod It’s Not)”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/09/technology/09pogue.html?ex=1320728400&en=09a2b6e6ca30bd50&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss But will there be three? I had written about the “Zune incompatibility(The DRM of Zune)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2006/09/15/zune before, but back then I hadn’t anticipated Microsoft totally abandoning MSN Music. It seems that future of PlaysForSure is not not looking very bright. And I would really be surprised if Microsoft has offered an upgrade path to “Overdrive and NetLibrary(PlaysforSure @ Your Library)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2005/05/12/playsforsure. I think anyone with one of these plans is going to want to continue to pay close attention to this.