Microsoft considering free replacement of iTunes songs? | iLounge News

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Microsoft considering free replacement of iTunes songs?

As part of the launch for its forthcoming iPod rival, Microsoft reportedly plans to give consumers free, compatible versions of songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store. The ploy would allow music fans to make the switch from the iPod and iTunes to the Microsoft player and Windows Media-based online store without losing previously purchased music. “This way you won’t have to pay twice for your music, which is a huge barrier for Microsoft to attract users to their service,” Gizmodo reports. “If you’ve got $1000 worth of music in your iPod, why would you change to something that required you to buy it all again? This move makes sense.” Also, like the recently announced MusicGremlin device, Microsoft’s offering is said to let device owners wirelessly connect to another owner’s player and share music. Meanwhile, Microsoft remains coy. “The stories you are seeing are based on speculation and rumors and, as such, we didn’t participate,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We don’t have anything to announce at this time.”

 

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Comments

1

is this legal? does anybody know if they can actually do this?

not like it would matter, i’m never switching to a microsoft product anyways ... i’m pretty sure a lot of people are with me on this one ;)

Posted by d3m0nICE on July 7, 2006 at 9:57 AM (CDT)

2

well…if they are going to replace all my music they would not put it in apple format of course. It would be those wonderfully small wma files. You can fit twice the amount of those on a mp3 player than the AAC. That would be nice. I just dont think that the player they will make can beat the iPod.

Posted by Luke on July 7, 2006 at 10:07 AM (CDT)

3

Microsoft sure has a lot of money and they know apple is makin tons off this iPod, its totally what saved the apple brand and made it popular once again. Thier computers were nice and all… but even that only got them like 5% of the pc market. They have like 75% of the mp3 player market with the iPod.

Its good microsoft is goin for a piece of the market, other companies like sony, samsumg, creative and microsoft will force apple to keep making thier products better.

everyone is bashin microsoft software… but im sure they all know someone or some kid who has the 360, or owned an xbox. This upcoming mp3 player microsoft hardware and im sure its not gonna suck that much. if it does… microsoft still has plenty of money to try again.

Posted by WldBluYonder21 on July 7, 2006 at 10:49 AM (CDT)

4

I can’t wait for this.

I’ve owned an iPod since the first day the 3rd gen was available.  My current iPod is a 4th gen.

I’m sick and tired of the way Apple treats ot’s customers, no new features, no firmware updates, and the light-weight sound the things produce.  A user defineable EQ would have helped, but that is beyond Apple.  Anyway, if the actually do manage to build a new feature in to the firmware, some greedy manager just says, hell, don’t add that to those nasty old iPods, lets just make a new one, and make them upgrade.

I’ve had enough, I’m jumping off the rotten Apple iPod cart, and MS might just be getting my money instead…

Posted by Tone on July 7, 2006 at 10:49 AM (CDT)

5

Sure, it’s legal if Microsoft got permission from the content owners to do it.

The worst case scenario for Microsoft is they simple eat the cost of the license and bandwidth, call it 70 cents a song.

So, if roughly 1.1 billion songs have been downloaded, and say 10% of those songs get converted, Microsoft will face approximately $80M conversion cost, which is basically marketing in their eyes.

Chump change for Microsoft. And the marketing dollars would be well worth it.

Personally, I doubt I will use Microsoft. Not because I am an Apple zealot or fan boy, but because I have I don’t trust Microsoft with my personal information. The WGA scandal is another example in a long history of Microsoft not having any corporate integrity.

Posted by bwhaler on July 7, 2006 at 10:50 AM (CDT)

6

In other news…Yugo is sponsoring a trade-in promotion.  Apparently, they will buy your gas forever (not to mention free maintenance forever) if you drop your [Insert Preferred Auto Brand] and buy a Yugo.

I know, not the best analogy, but it makes the point that, while the content is very important, it’s Microsoft’s product that makes them so unsuccessful in this arena.

Point: Apple.

Posted by Gordy. in Atlanta, GA on July 7, 2006 at 10:52 AM (CDT)

7

Tone,

I hate to break it to you, but all if you think other companies add features for free to old MP3 players, you’re going to be very disappointed.

The truth is no company does. They all want you to buy the upgraded hardware since companies exist for profit.

Samsung, Creative, Microsoft, Apple, all do it.

Posted by Tricky Flip on July 7, 2006 at 10:56 AM (CDT)

8

“... it’s Microsoft’s product that makes them so unsuccessful in this arena.”

The only microsoft harware out there is the xbox. its very successful. Why are people saying microsoft is unsuccessful if theyve never made an mp3 player before?

dell’s dj is gone… make comments about unsuccessful mp3 players about them.

let microsoft have a go at it, if it takes converting people’s music, having a great music service, and a kick ass player, then that’s what it takes. If microsoft can pull that off, itll only make apple have to compete.

like i said… “Microsoft is goin to bust through the mp3 player market like the kool aide man busting through a wall!”

lol

Oh yea!

Posted by WldBluYonder21 on July 7, 2006 at 11:10 AM (CDT)

9

Tricky Flip,

I know what your saying, but calling the iPods features “vanilla” is an understatement.  The iPod is not moving on, and appart from a colour screen it has remained basically unchanged since 2002.

I want alot more from my iPod, especially sound quality, and better battery life.  I think Apple’s tech know-how is 3 years behind most other manufacturers, and it’s just the case design that has kept the momentum going…  Until now.

I really have fallen out of love with Apple over the last 6 months, and I don’t like the fact that my 6 month old iPod is basically not supported anymore.  Disgusting.

I know M$ is not exactly a fantastic alternative to Apple, but really, just how arrogant are Apple these days?  I think they would be the devil incarnate, if they were the size of M$.

M$ are hungry for a slice of this MP3/Video pie, and that makes me think they will really push hard with the features and quality of their MP3 Player.  Just look at what they have done with the latest X-box, and remember that the guy responsible for that, is working on this player.  I think it will be interesting, to say the least!

Posted by Tone on July 7, 2006 at 11:15 AM (CDT)

10

Tricky Flip,
I hate to break it to you, but Creative and iRiver do periodically update the firmware on their players to introduce new features as well as to fix bugs. This could change in the future of course, but they have been doing it.

And to those who don’t like the “vanilla”-ness of their iPods I have 2 things to say to you: (1) it’s that same vanilla-ness that makes iPods so mass-marketable (2) Rockbox.

Posted by Dave on July 7, 2006 at 11:36 AM (CDT)

11

From a business standpoint, MS’s idea is great.  If their goal is to make money on music players and not on online music sales, this is one to possibly have someone switch from an iPod.  HOWEVER - one thing MS has never fully grasp is the idea of customer loyalty.  MS often confuses their customers as loyal when in reality their customers have little to no choice to use MS’s product.  Apple product owners traditionally are very loyal, which is why I think MS really has an uphill battle.

One problem that I haven’t seen anyone mentioning is that MS is going to “scan” your iTunes library to determine the free songs.  I can’t imagine this idea is going to go over well w/ privacy advocates.

Posted by billy bob on July 7, 2006 at 11:45 AM (CDT)

12

I’ve said it before… Unless the MS Player has support for AAC, then I’m steering clear. I Don’t think I am the only iPod user out there who thinks this way..

Posted by J on July 7, 2006 at 12:38 PM (CDT)

13

I said Microsoft’s ‘product’, not hardware.  Don’t get it twisted.

I’m referring to their DRM scheme with multiple applications (based on the song, music store, etc.), WMP 10, and, last but not least, the player’s software—where applicable.  Microsoft has created all of these, and they aren’t changing to enhance the consumer’s experience.

Posted by Gordy. in Atlanta, GA on July 7, 2006 at 1:03 PM (CDT)

14

billy bob made the best point in this discussion. How is MS going to determine who gets free songs? Are they just going to accept a users word for it? I don’t think so. They will have to someway hack into the protected AAC file to see if you actually have the rights to that file. Do you think apple will sit on the sidelines for that. I think this is just another example of MS getting the pot stirred with promises. We will all have to wait to see if any of this pans out like it is suppose to. Anyone remember Longhorn, whoops Vista. What happened to everything they promised with that.

Posted by sleeptech on July 7, 2006 at 1:08 PM (CDT)

15

Thanks sleeptech for the endorsement :-)

How MS would know what songs an iTunes user has would be complicated since most music libraries are made of both protected and non-protected AAC files.  My library contains this, but MP3 files.  MS could probably find a way to scan the metadata of each file without actually cracking AAC in the way RealPlayer’s Harmony did. 

A greater concern for Apple is that MS could potentially acquire some vital data about what songs and genre’s are selling the best on iTunes.  We can always look on iTunes to see what is the “#1” song for the day, but Apple guards the individual breakdown of what types of music sell the most.  (In other words, does Rap outsell Country?, How many people have downloaded the latest U2 single?, etc;)

Obviously this wouldn’t mean every iTunes user - only those who agree to the new service.  However, any statistian will tell you about small sample sizes predicting a larger population. If MS had 1,000 “scans” they could reasonably make a determination of iTunes music sales breakdown…

Posted by billy bob on July 7, 2006 at 1:44 PM (CDT)

16

How is MS going to determine who gets free songs?

How difficult is it to design a plug-in into iTunes?

Posted by flatline response on July 7, 2006 at 4:13 PM (CDT)

17

Actually Luke, WMA comes out at the same quality at 64kbps compared to mp3 at 128kbps, and then only in some tests (some would say that aac is better than wma because it is a less ‘closed’ format, but most users find the quality indiscernible).  Size, and quality, is almost entirely decided by the bit rate you use and not the format.

Posted by Ethan on July 7, 2006 at 5:48 PM (CDT)

18

I don’t understand why most people act like Apple has forced the iPod upon them. If anything they should be mad at themselves for riding the bandwagon. What more could you want from an Mp3 player?? I’ve owned the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation iPods and none of the three are alike. You can argue that they do produce “sound” but as far features they’ve been adding since day 1. So get your thoughts together and take the aggression out on yourselves.

Posted by AZ on July 7, 2006 at 9:40 PM (CDT)

19

This is just speculation here but some interesting comments nonetheless. And AZ made a very good point: people chose the iPod. Happily. Nobody forced it upon them.

It’s the features that Apple rejects that makes iPod the best. :-P And FFS, please don’t imply that vanilla = plain/boring/sparse. Vanilla is a delicious flavour, just like chocolate or coffee. And like any flavour it can be implemented well or poorly.

I’d like to see an MS-free world, too, but it won’t happen overnight.

Posted by Pikemann_Urge on July 9, 2006 at 9:38 AM (CDT)

20

64kbps WMA listenable? I beg to differ.

While WMA is an advance over MP3 using CBR encoding at low bitrates, it isn’t good at much else. In many ABX listening tests, AAC beats WMA handily. And good quality VBR MP3s (e.g., LAME encoded) are at least as good as WMA files of the same size (128kbps and up).

Generally, I consider both 64kbps WMA and 128kbps MP3 to be borderline listenable. Both have severe deficiencies and I don’t use either one.

128kbps AAC, on the other hand, is quite good and easily beats 128kbps WMA or MP3.

The upshot: there is no “magic bullet” that will allow M$ to get more songs on your iPod without severely compromising sound quality. M$ has not demonstrated that they have significant chops in the audio realm, either.

Consider this, as well: the need for lossy compressors has EVERYTHING to do with small portable devices, battery life and internet bandwidth. As these problems are addressed over time, the need for heavy compression will also diminish. I expect that my kids will not know what an MP3 is when they are 25.

Posted by BradPDX in Portland, OR USA on July 9, 2006 at 1:44 PM (CDT)

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