Microsoft Zune Players NOT PlaysForSure Compatible

microsoft zune blackHow’s this for a direct kick in the nuts? Microsoft has designed its new flagship media player to NOT be PlaysForSure compatible. Translation: all your Windows Media DRM-wrapped files purchased or subscribed through partner services like Napster, Rhapsody, URGE, Movielink, etc. will not be playable through Zune. Reasoning according to J Allard: “Other people just want a system that’s end-to-end — all compatible out of the gate — and that’s what Zune does. Zune says there is no choice; you get a Zune device, you hook it up to the Zune service, and it just works.”

Seriously, I didn’t believe it when I first got wind of this fact either. A big thanks goes to Derek Slater at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for bringing this issue into the spotlight! Dereck comments: “This is a stark example of DRM under the DMCA giving customers a raw deal. Buying DRMed media means you’re locked into the limited array of devices that vendors say you can use. You have to rebuy your preexisting DRMed media collection if you want to use it on the Zune. And you’ll have to do that over and over again whenever a new, incompatible device with innovative features blows existing players out of the water.”

Ironically, unprotected media (i.e. – WMA, MP3, AAC; photos in JPEG; and videos in WMV, MPEG-4, H.264) IS playable on the Zune and J Allard even goes so far to talk out of both sides of his mouth when he tells Engadget that there’s “Lots of DVD ripping software out there that encodes to those formats, so the most popular formats out there, whether it’s MPEG-4 or H.264, we’ll support those.” That’s funny that a rep at Microsoft would say such a thing when the company has feverishly tried to squash FairUse4WM, a program that strips Windows Media DRM from legally purchased content.

Links of interest:
Zune Insider – Zune and DRM (or “My Bad; I mis-Blogged”)
Zune Insider – Answers to (some) of Your Zune Questions

* Note: As of Sept. 19th Cesar Menendez, a Microsoft employee working on Zune and the publisher of Zune Insider, has not address any of the comments by his readers related to the issues described in this post (which indeed were asked).

Filed in: Portable Media Players

  • usedalittle

    This Zune thing and similar devices are too limited for me. Instead, I want an indexing device that contains a link to every audio or video its creator wants others to experience. The indexing device will also tell me both the cost (if any) to experience a listed item and the device types suitable for the experience. The indexing device will enable me to select what I want to experience, when/how I want to experience it and processes my payment instantly. Until such a jukebox approach is available, I will instead go to live concerts and performances or… read a book. Alas, the Zune is not for me.