Lately there’s been a lot of talk about Microsoft’s new Zune stuff. A lot of people seem to believe it’s never going to de-throne the iPod/iTunes monopoly Apple has managed to create. Maybe. I don’t really care. 79p is still too much to pay for music with DRM. The one thing that got me thinking was Microsoft’s strategy for breaking the Apple monopoly:
Make it easy for people to switch away from iTunes by offering the songs already bought there for free from Microsoft’s own store.
Brilliant idea? Possibly, but the devil’s in the details.
How are they going to do that, exactly? How do I prove that I’ve bought music from iTunes to Microsoft?
Remember, the iTunes music is under DRM. Apple has only sold one single license to that technology, Motorola. Reverse engineering of Apple’s DRM is not legal in the states, DMCA took care of that. (It’s probably not legal in the EU either.) And last, but not least, Apple and Microsoft are fierce competitors with nothing nice to say about each other.
So, how will Microsoft make sure that I don’t lie when saying that I bought song A from iTunes?
Will I have to give them my music files, they inspect them and then I’m rewarded? But, the file format is proprietary and Microsoft doesn’t have a license. Will they buy a license? Will Apple sell them one?
I’m sure that Cory Doctorow is right, if Microsoft goes ahead we’ll soon see a lot of “tools” that help users trick Microsoft into handing out free music…