In a classic DRM U-turn, customers of Microsoft’s now-defunct MSN Music store are being given at least three more years in which they can be sure that the music they’ve purchased will continue to play, even after an operating system re-install or upgrade, and when transfered to a compatible device. That’s because the company, having weathered a storm of negative PR and complaints from customers, has relented on its decision to shut down the service’s verification servers used to implement that store’s copy-protection technology.
An email, sent out this week to MSN Music customers, reads:
After careful consideration, Microsoft has decided to keep the MSN Music license servers running through at least the end of 2011. This means MSN Music customers will be able to transfer their music to new PCs and devices beyond the previously announced Aug. 31, 2008 date and continue to enjoy the music they purchased from MSN Music.
What makes this story most interesting isn’t the fact that Microsoft has been forced into a U-turn but that it’s more proof that the use of DRM doesn’t just lock in customers, where content purchased from one service isn’t compatible with devices sold by competitors, but also how it serves as a noose around the neck of vendors. As Create Digital Music’s Peter Kirn writes: “Let this be a lesson to you, purveyors of online music. If you do DRM-lock digital music, be prepared to continue to support it well into the future, lest users rebel.”