Zune Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Be sure to register in our forums! Share your opinions, help others, and enter our contests.

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

Windows Phone Thoughts

Loading feed...

Digital Home Thoughts

Loading feed...

All posts tagged "drm"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MSN Music Still Existed? It's now Zune in the UK

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 10:00 AM


"Microsoft, fresh from the news that it will be bringing its Zune music and video service to the UK, has announced plans to integrate MSN Music into the software. What this means is Zune content will be accessible via MSN Music, with the Zune Marketplace easily accessible after replacing the current MSN download store."

I didn't even realize that MSN Music still existed anywhere in the world - if you recall, back in 2008, MSN Music shut down and announced they'd decommission their DRM servers - which would effectively kill all the music that people had bought if they ever needed to re-authenticate it (moving to a new PC, hard drive crash, etc.). They relented and announced they'd leave their servers active until 2011. Has MSN Music in the UK been selling DRM-poisoned tracks all this time? Or did they switch to MP3s back when the rest of the online music stores did? Regardless, it's now going to be Zune. I wonder if MSN Music will do one to one conversions of DRM'd MSN Music tracks to DRM-free Zune tracks? Nah, probably not...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Fellow Canadians, Rejoice: We Finally Have a Good Online MP3 Music Store

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 04:00 AM


Well, colour me impressed - HMV, a CD and DVD retail chain store in Canada, has launched an online music store. We had a few of them already, but most were re-branded and based on Puretracks on the back end, and up until recently that meant DRM-laden WMA files. Puretracks has been transitioning over to MP3s, but I find their store cumbersome to use. HMV Digital on the other hand, reminds me a lot of Amazon.com's MP3 store - fast, fluid, and simple. The music is in 320kbps MP3 format, which is excellent, and most tracks are 99 cents with a few in the $1.29 range. Albums are in the $9.99 range, and you don't even have to install a downloader if you don't want to - the albums come down in a single ZIP file. And best of all? They allow you to re-download your purchases up to five times, so if you happen to have a data wipe-out, you can get your music from them again. I'm not sure how deep their catalogue goes, but for new releases, this is where I'm going to be doing my shopping. Nicely done HMV!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DRM Problems Plague Some Zune Marketplace Customers

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 03:09 PM

Digital Rights Management, or DRM as it's better know, is an ugly technology that ends up doing far more to alienate legitimate consumers of media content than it does to stop the people who want to take content they didn't pay for. Case in point: here's an email I received from a Zune Thoughts reader last week...

"I just upgraded to Windows 7 from Vista, and it went smoothly. That is until I tried to sync my zune. Apparently many of the songs I purchased long ago from the zune marketplace were DRM protected WMA. Of those songs a number are now available only as MP3. Somehow my songs, which worked fine until I upgraded to Win7, are now useless files that won't play on my PC or sync to my zune. I called zune customer support and they told me that per Microsoft they are not allowed to credit me for songs that were once WMA and are now only available as MP3 because the content provider has changed. I am now stuck having spent money for music that is gone forever...It is incredibly hard to believe that they are refusing to help one of their customers out. I guess I am going to have to switch to using the Amazon MP3 store 100% of the time. The only reason I was purchasing from the zune marketplace to begin with was an effort to support Zune."

Can you believe that? We're not talking here about a DRM-laden store going away - a la MSN Music - we're talking about the Zune Marketplace's back-end music content shifting and burning customers in the process because the DRM-laden WMA files they purchased magically vanished and MP3s appeared in their place. I'm not aware of any simple way - or even a complex way for that matter - for users to export the DRM licenses for their Zune Marketplace-purchased content. So what does the Zune team expect people to do? Never switch computers, and never upgrade to Windows 7?

The good news here is that a few days after this person contacted me, he followed up to inform me that someone from the Zune Team contacted him and offered him song credits to fix this situation. That's great to hear, but it's clear the Zune Marketplace has a very screwed up system if this was allowed to happen in the first place.

DRM is a poison that's best avoided, and until the Zune Marketplace is 100% DRM-free, I'm not going to purchase songs from it. Amazon's MP3 store gets all my money right now. Where do you purchase your music from?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Blu-ray Digital Copy: Only a Good Experience for iTunes Users

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

There are a lot of things that I don't like about Blu-ray as a format, but as the industry has settled on it as the physical standard for HD discs, things have slowly started to improve. One such improvement is the increased proliferation of Managed Digital Copy on Blu-ray discs. It works like this: in many new Blu-ray packages, you'll have the Blu-ray disc, a regular DVD, and a small card with a code on it. When you insert the regular DVD in your computer, you'll typically get an auto-loader (pictured above) for the movie, and it will give you the ability to transfer a DVD resolution (or lower if they offer a portable device version) copy of the movie to your computer in one of two DRM-laden formats: iTunes MPEG4, or Windows Media Player WMV. In each case, the code you're provided is used to authenticate the WMV and MPEG4 versions of the movie. The neat part is that you can get both the iTunes and Windows Media Player versions of the movie - I did this with four Blu-ray discs I purchased. Read more...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Escape iTunes With the TuneClone Audio Converter

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 11:45 AM


"You are considering buying a Microsoft Zune as you broke your iPod or had your iPod stolen. And you bought a lot of songs from iTunes store because you had money left on your iTunes gift card. You still want to enjoy those purchased songs on your Zune MP3 player. Or you own an iPod while your boyfriend/girlfriend has a Zune. And you hope to share the library of M4P music songs purchased from iTunes store under your account with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Here comes the headache! The M4P music you bought from iTunes is DRM-laden! You cannot transfer the iTunes M4P music to the Zune software, not to mention playing the iTunes M4P music on your Zune player."

So, you want to migrate from the iPod to the Zune but the main reason you haven’t made that jump is because you have your iTunes library. I’m sure that’s a very common reason for not coming over to the Zune world. (Ok, maybe not, but I’ll maintain my delusion.) This is a serious issue though and if you do want to change platforms, then your only options are mostly time consuming and wasteful.

TuneClone Audio Converter has come to the rescue! You can use this to move your library of M4P DRM protected music to the MP3 format that you can use on any player out there worth its salt. This is a useful tool for anyone looking to break their relationship with the iPod. This software does cost $34.95 to register but that price does give you what appears to be a full feature application. The best part is that it maintains all of the music file’s metadata. DigitalMediaOnline has a nice little tutorial that shows how it works.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zune Pass: Not Always Perfect

Posted by David Tucker in "Zune News" @ 10:38 AM


“This post has nothing to do with the Zune device itself as I really like my Zune and enjoying listening to it, but has more to do with the state of digital music. I have a Zune Pass which means that for a certain amount of money each month I am renting the music. I like this over having to buy everything in my collection as it allows me to try out songs and albums I might never take a chance on otherwise. It also provides a steady stream of money to the music business since I am not likely to purchase these albums anyway. The problem is that the record labels can pull the rights to the music at any time. On Friday I was driving home from work, and plugged my Zune into my car stereo system. I quickly discovered that a large amount of the music I listen to has be pulled from the Zune Marketplace. On my Zune itself I get a message that, "The item is missing or can't be played."”

First of all, Dale, you work for Microsoft man! If you have a problem with something here shouldn’t you be coming up with a solution? Or talking to someone involved with the Zune? The problem here seems to be that sometimes the record labels pull the rights to have music be part of the Zune Pass scheme. Personally I’ve never experienced this but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to hear that it happens. I still don’t think the music industry knows what it’s really doing in the electronic realm.

That said, Zune Pass users do need to keep in mind that we are simply renting the songs. Suggestions such as letting the Zune Pass users get the expiring songs at a discount or keep them after they aren’t generally available just isn’t realistic. While I understand Dale's frustration, the benefits of the Zune Pass still far outweigh issues like this.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Free Music Friday: NIN - "The Slip"

Posted by Tim Williamson in "Digital Home News" @ 01:05 AM


"as a thank you to our fans for your continued support, we are giving away the new nine inch nails album one hundred percent free, exclusively via nin.com. the music is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE. your link will include all options - all free. all downloads include a PDF with artwork and credits. for those of you interested in physical products, fear not. we plan to make a version of this release available on CD and vinyl in july. details coming soon."

Nine Inch Nails (NIN) has released their latest album for free download from their web site, with the official CD release coming up in July. This release comes in a variety of digital formats (MP3, FLAC, M4A, and WAVE) and is DRM-free (whoo hoo!). Our source (Steve The Yaz) wonders if this could start a trend of promoting album releases in the future. This trend would definitely be great for consumers, but I'm not sure how this would benefit the band. Now that I've downloaded the album, I don't know how inclined I'd be to go out and purchase the CD. Would you pay for a CD if you could get the album for free? For a band that makes their money from CD sales, I don't know if offering your album for free download is a good thing, but for a band that makes their money from concerts, then this could be a really great way of promoting the band. So if you're into industrial rock (or even if it's not really your thing) head over the NIN's site and check out their latest free album!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Strip Zune DRM from Marketplace Songs With FairUse4WM

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 09:57 PM


Before I post this, I want to state up front that I deeply respect the rights of artists. I don't have in my possession any music that I do not own. When I like a certain song, I buy it. I'm still tending to buy CDs more than digital downloads because DRM is still a hassle. When I buy a song, I want to be able to play that song on any of my computers, any of my devices, anywhere, at any time. The Zune Marketplace is no better than iTunes or MSN Music: it limits how I can use the music that I paid for. Thankfully, that has changed with the release of an update for FairUse4WM. I hate DRM so much that all of my Zune Marketplace music is kept in a separate folder away from the 77 GB of "real" music that I have because I consider DRM'd music to be poisoned.

I downloaded the file, followed the instructions, and now I have all of my Zune tracks DRM free! While I see no problem using this tool to remove the DRM on individual songs that you've purchased, it's completely unethical to use it on Zune Pass songs...so don't be a bad boy or girl, only use this on songs you really own, not the songs you're renting.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Big Wigs Talk DRM, Pass the Buck Around Some More

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 PM


"Day 2 of the Digital Music Forum kicked off with an interesting panel discussion on "Device and Format Wars." Which basically means DRM, right? So, as you can guess, the conversation had a lot in common with yesterday's DRM discussion. Today, eMusic CEO David Pakman played the "why-not-just-drop-DRM?" guy, and execs from Microsoft's Zune team, MusicGremlin, Zing, Click and Buy, and Sonific represented various points along the DRM spectrum... The panel is moderated by Jupiter VP and Senior Analyst David Card, who starts us off with some stats to chew on: Legal music downloads in 2006 brought in around $800 million. Subscription music services generated between $150 million and $180 million. So all told, digital music in the US is just under a billion dollars as a market. That's a heckuva lot of Fergie, people."

An interesting panelled conversation, even if it doesn't conclude or resolve anything and pretty much goes nowhere. For the umpteenth time, companies trying to make money from the sales of digital music (whether piecemeal or via subscription model) blame Apple for having set the tone for music sales. I can't say agree. I really believe DRM would still be around even if there never was an iPod. I also don't believe the subscription model is something everyone's dying for. It might be great of those top-40 listeners who are always picking up the latest hits, but for those of us that have had a set music-listening pattern for some time, it's not very viable. So what do you think? Is it all Apple's fault? Would you opt for a subscription from iTunes if they offered it? And would it change the face of digital music sales? I'll start off by answering no to all three questions...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Balmer: Zune's DRM is Microsoft's Future

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Zune Software" @ 04:30 PM


"Until now, Microsoft has tried to downplay the fact that the Zune digital-rights-management system nixes the Windows Media PlaysForSure one that the company was championing until late last year. However, in an interview this week with Knowledge@Wharton, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer finally admits on the record that the Zune DRM system is the one in which Microsoft's putting its future eggs. "We thought that (PlaysForSure) was a brilliant strategy — [develop] an open ecosystem, get a lot of people [to support it]." What happened? As Ballmer puts it, "In this particular case, the whole was not bigger than the sum of the parts." And, as a result, "Apple — with one model that was simple and consistent — wound up taking 75%-80% of the market.".. "Some of our partners will say 'This wasn't partner-friendly.' But having our partners only have 20% of a market share between them is also not very partner-friendly. One of the key things … that I have learned about business partners is that business partners are your partners because they make money with you, they succeed with you. And if you don't succeed, eventually you don't have any partners.""

A very good point, and kind of one we were expecting: The PlaysForSure program just didn't work they way they wanted it to. So they looked at Apple's program and said "Hey, they're making a profit from it, so should we." So they orphaned a promising system in favor of a more restrictive one. Gee, thanks guys. Really, what they should have done (IMO) is change PFS slightly so that the existing players can still use it in the future, but the Zune also uses it. There really wasn't a reason why they needed to dump one in favor of the other. In any case, they can still pull it out of the gutter if they just change the Marketplace slightly so any PFS player can use it. Then they wouldn't be alienating any existing customers. Oh wait, this is Microsoft we're talking about... Nevermind.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Could 3 Days / 3 Plays Be Up For Review?

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 06:30 AM


"Zune owners can share songs with each other, but the music will only last for three days or three plays, whichever comes first. And that restriction is present regardless of whether the song is copyrighted. But in a meeting coming up soon between executives of the music industry and at Microsoft, those restrictions will be up for review."

One of the most advertised, and criticized, features of the Zune is its wireless capabilities. Zune's wireless offers much promise, but is very lacking in its current implementation. We are currently limited to photo and music sharing, and as you know, the music sharing is hampered by a 3 day or 3 play DRM restriction, even if the source material isn't copyrighted. Well, this limitation, as well as other wireless scenarios, could soon be under fire at a meeting between Microsoft and music industry executives. We will have to wait and see what comes out of this meeting. Considering the music industry’s and Microsoft's, track records, my hopes aren't very high.

Tags: wifi, sharing, drm

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bill Gates on DRM

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 10:00 AM


"Gates didn’t get into what could replace DRM, but he did give some reasonably candid insights suggesting that he thinks DRM is as lame as the rest of us. Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which “causes too much pain for legitmate buyers” while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are “huge problems” with DRM... His short term advice: “People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.”"

I think most of us would agree that DRM, at least in its current form, is a complete disaster. While I can understand the industry's desire for DRM, the implementation is flat out not making the grade. People who want to steal music are going to steal it. DRM hinders those of us who are legit buyers from using music we legally purchase. While I have purchased a few DRMed tracks, I mostly adhere to Gate's advice of purchasing the CD and ripping it. Although initially Zune had to make quite a few concessions to the DRM gods to get its feet off the ground, it would be nice to see Zune reach a place market where it can positively affect the state of DRM.

Tags: drm, gates

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Sony Hints at iPod/Zune-like Strategy

Posted by Damion Chaplin in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 04:30 PM


"Next holiday season could see a new approach from Sony in the MP3 player space -- one that could resemble Apple's iTunes/iPod combo or Microsoft's similarly-unified Zune approach. Glasgow said that Sony "still ha[s]n't come back to the [digital audio] market hard," but that "we [CE manufacturers] all want to use this approach," and also "you'll find us doing something in that direction" in the future. Glasgow also had some choice words for DRM that indicate a break from Sony's previous stance. He said, "DRMs are going to become less important" as time goes on, although he also called implementing multiple DRM schemes on the same device "a nightmare." Although he said it was too early for him to reveal details about a Sony device/store play along the lines of the iPod or the Zune, he hinted that Sony is considering releasing something similar."

Wait a second here. DRM will become less important in the future? This came from Sony? I'm shocked and that's no sarcasm. As for a Sony-branded music marketplace? If it only works with Sony products, it'll be about a year too late. They had their chance with Sony Connect and it stank. I can't imagine that Sony will have anything new to bring to the field this time next year. They'll have to compete not only with ITMS, but with the Zune Marketplace as well...

Monday, December 4, 2006

Zune Content PlaysForSure?

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Media" @ 07:30 AM


"It seems that Zune and Plays for Sure are closely related indeed. While the Zune player will not accept content from other Plays for Sure services it seems content from the Zune marketplace will work on other Plays for Sure compatible devices (it’s clearly not something supported and certainly not clear how long it will work)."

So you're jones'n to migrate from a PlaysForSure device, to a shiny new Zune. As usual, you want to pass on your old PlaysForSure device to your spouse or child. (Don't we all?) However, due to Zune's much documented incompatibility with PlaysForSure, you’re stuck maintaining two subscriptions; one for Zune, and one for PlaysForSure, right? Well, maybe not. Apparently, while the Zune is not compatible with PlaysForSure content, a PlaysForSure device will play Zune content. For now, DRMed content download from the Zune Marketplace will play on PlaysForSure devices. The thinking goes that the Zune and PlaysForSure DRM is almost identical, with extra bits added to Zune content that the Zune player requires while a PlaysForSure device ignores them. This is a completely unofficial and unsupported scenario, and this "feature" could be "fixed" in future updates, so be cautious. Have any of you with a PlaysForSure device tried playing Zune content?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Getting Around Zune Sharing DRM

Posted by Aaron Roma in "Zune Talk" @ 04:00 PM


"We knew it would be done sooner or later, and now that we have the mod to use your Zune as a portable hard drive, a method to bypass the Zune's WiFi sharing DRM is finally here."

I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before the Zune DRM is cracked, just like about all other DRM schemes. In the mean time, utilizing ZuneBoard's hard drive hack, there is a workaround, albeit a rather cumbersome one, to send a DRM-less file using Zune's WiFi sharing. Check out the above Gizmodo article for the all the details. This workaround, basically tricking the Zune into sending a file as a photo, involves a little too much manual work for what can easily be accomplished, sans-Zune. Since both ends require a PC and the hard drive hack before the file is usable, what's the point? I guess W?BIC is the answer! :)

Tags: wifi, drm, hack

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

PlaysForMaybe? Clever, But Does It Really Matter?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 07:00 PM


"I thought things couldn't get any worse for Microsoft after the Vista licensing fiasco, the WGA fiasco, and the XBox 360 fiasco but this one takes the cake. I'll even bet that the folks at Apple are ROTFL at this latest Microsoft misstep. Microsoft's own Channel 9 blog has coined the term "Plays for Maybe" (via David Berlind's blog) in a brutally honest way asking: "I really don't get how the biggest software co. in the world - sets up a huge network of partners to trumpet their own technology: "plays for sure" - then when it itself enters the market - refuses to use it.""

A whole whack of blogs are up in arms about the fact that the Zune doesn't support PlaysForSure music. Meaning that if you have a large investment in, say, MSN Music downloads, they won't work on your Zune. This is old news to those of us that have been following the Zune, but evidently everyone else is just realizing it now. I guess what I'm wondering is how much it matters? I don't know a single person, offline or online, that has complained to me about having a huge investment in DRM'd WMA tracks and are ticked off the Zune won't play them. If that's you, speak up and tell me.

I have this strong sense that there's more smoke than fire with this issue, and people are getting more angry about the idea of Microsoft breaking the PlaysForSure concept than actual people with "trapped" music collections. The sad part about DRM'd music is that it's vulnerable to this sort of thing. Anyone with a significant investment in iTunes music (of which there are many more people) will face exactly the same issue if they ever break away. If you really do have a bunch of Windows Media files that are DRM'd, download and run Fairuse4WM. It works amazingly well, and will free your music from the clutches of DRM.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Zune and DRM

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 02:00 PM


"For starters, Digital Rights Management, commonly known as DRM, is any technology that is put in place by content holders to control access or usage of digital content (in this case digital music). Most content providers in the industry, mainly the major record companies, believe that it is necessary to maintain control over the distribution, and replication of content, and the ability to assign limited control over content. Their main concern hinges on the illegal spread of content over the internet, and loss of sales. For many people and organizations, DRM is not only a hassle, but also something that must be destroyed at all costs. Their belief is that DRM allows content holders to write their own rules and have them backed by the DMCA, that it erodes pervious capabilities, stifles creativity, innovation, and competition…as well as being a royal pain in the ass."

Charlie over at Zune Corps has written up a piece on DRM and how it will impact the Zune. When it comes to buying songs from the Zune Marketplace, the Zune is really no better or worse than the iPod. One could argue that's a problem, because if it's no better, then that's not going to be a factor to lure iPod users. On the other hand, with the Zune Marketplace subscription, as long as you keep paying the $14.99 USD a month, you don't have to think about DRM, because everything you can see in the Marketplace you can download.

My main concern with DRM on the Zune is the 3 day/3 play is applied to every single song you share from the Zune - I don't think it's Microsoft's place to police content on my Zune. If I want to share a ripped CD with a friend who has a Zune, the ethical and legal ramifications of that should be on my shoulders - Microsoft shouldn't be stepping in the middle. By the same token, if I load up some podcasts or original songs I put together and I want to give that content away for others to keep, why shouldn't I be able to? It doesn't matter that the DRM is part of the hardware and not applied to the song itself, the end result is still the same. Forcing people to have to go back to their computers to re-download the audio file so they can keep it is inane, and nullifies some of the utility that the Zune's WiFi sharing has. I don't know how much of the 3 day/3 day DRM came from music studio pressure, and how much of it was from the Zune team themselves, but no matter how you slice it, it's a bad idea that's going to hurt the adoption of the player.

Friday, October 13, 2006

BostonPocketPC.com's Q&A with Bill Wittress

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune Talk" @ 09:18 AM


"Zune, on the other hand, is highly tuned to a specific hardware set and it is designed to execute a specific set of features. As for the UI, it shares some visual similarities with PMC. However, the menu system is more refined (some might say Spartan) than PMC. We've been able to take some of the learnings from other UIs we've developed and incorporated those elements into the Zune player to continue to hone the experience. For example, we've paid attention to things such as focus and made changes to make it very intuitive and dare I say fun to use. I can go on and on about the similarities and differences between PMC and Zune. In the end, both are good device-side operating systems. I have a personal fondness for both and I think both are well suited for their purposes."

BostonPocketPC.com got together with Bill Wittress and fielded ten questions primarily covering DRM issues, the Portable Media Center (PMC) platform, filling stations, and integration with core Microsoft services. Give it a read, if you want to learn more about Zune.

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Sponsored links