Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

MSN Music DRM servers get three year stay of execution

MSN Music DRM servers get three year stay of executionIn 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.

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Will Apple develop MobileMe as my own personal cloud?

dot mac logo smA lot is being made of cloud computing these days, especially in light of Microsoft’s Mesh initiative and the various online products and strategies cooked up by Google.

With the rumored changes coming to Apple’s .Mac product, could a revamped MobileMe or — whatever it is ultimately called — eventually become my personal cloud?

I hope so. My digital life needs one, whether supplied by Microsoft, Google, or Apple, it doesn’t matter.

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How to save the Zune

This is a guest post by Michael Pinto who is the Creative Director of Very Memorable, Inc. a design firm that specializes in the youth market and interactive media.

With the iPhone taking away the mind space of the iPod, the Zune already seems to be in an orphan category with consumers. A sign of this is the recent high profile blowout when GameStop announced that they planned to stop selling the Zune. However, to me the surprise was that GameStop had been selling the Zune in the first place. I’ve been to several locations over the last year or so and I’ve never spotted one in a store. Perhaps the reason for this is that I was hunting to buy yet another Nintendo DS Lite and not looking for an MP3 player as a stocking stuffer.

In fact the only time that I’ve seen a Zune in the wild was while I was running through Kmart. Now think about that for a second: The biggest market for this device would be those hungry for music — tweens, teens and young adults. This market is very style conscience to say the least, and the one place they might encounter this device is in-between the linens and pantry items. Also the few times that I’ve seen representatives of the youth market at Kmart they were hunting for dorm room necessities rather than objects of entertainment.

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What if Apple re-enters the console gaming market through the iPhone?

apple\'s pippinI’m going out on a limb here because I’m more of a casual gamer than hardcore. But lately I’ve been wondering, with the coming iPhone 2.0, third-party applications, and expected mobile games, might Apple return to the game-console market?

I know: That’s crazy talk. Apple’s last foray into console gaming was 1996’s Pippin, named as the 22nd worst tech product of all time in a 2006 story in PC World magazine. Since then, we’ve seen the advent of Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, a slew of Nintendo consoles, and no new attempt by Apple to introduce a game console.

But Terrence Russell of The Industry Standard wonders, like I have, that maybe Apple might be following a different path into gaming — through the mobile market.

“Consumers are already ga-ga over Apple’s mobile devices to begin with,” Russell writes, referring to the success of the iPhone and iPod line of products, “so whether they should be re-imagined as gaming gadgets is more of a marketing issue.

“But with the developer community in a tizzy to create the next great Apple-friendly game, it’s only a matter of time before Cupertino announces that it’s ready to connect the dots.”


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Take that, Apple: Zune update adds TV shows from NBC Universal, among others

Despite Apple’s dominance of the portable media player market with the near ubiquitous iPod, Microsoft continues to plug away with its own offering, announcing yesterday a significant software and content update to the company’s Zune.

The Zune Marketplace (U.S.-only) has begun selling downloads of major television shows, including content from NBC Universal — a move that sticks it to Apple, following last year’s public spat between the iPod maker and major television studio, which resulted in NBC pulling its content from iTunes. Starting today, Zune users have access to 800 TV show episodes — download to-own — priced at 60 Microsoft Points each (approximately $1.99). Aside from NBC Universal, content will come from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, among others, and will include popular shows such as “South Park”, “The Office”, “Heroes”, and “The Hills”.

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Five companies that sold customers down the DRM-filled river

Five companies that sold customers down the DRM-filled riverThe news last week that Microsoft plans to turn off its verification servers for its now-defunct MSN Music store, is a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls customers face whenever they purchase content crippled by Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Any digital store that sells or loans you content in a copy-protected format makes you a hostage to that store or format’s commercial success. The Microsoft example, however, is just one of many. Here are five cases where companies have sold their customers down the DRM-filled river.

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Microsoft's "Mesh" wants to be your digital hub

Microsoft's Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled its much rumored “Mesh” platform, a service designed to be the hub of our digital lifestyles: “Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the information you care about”.

Mesh – currently in limited Beta – “synchronizes data across multiple devices (currently just Windows computers, but theoretically it will extend to mobile and other devices in the future) as well as to a web desktop that exists in the cloud”, writes Josh Catone over at our sister blog ReadWriteWeb. The service also has a social aspect too, enabling collaboration and sharing. “It can sync data across devices used by a single user, as well as create shared spaces for multiple users”.

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Let's hope Sony gets it right this time: may launch movie/TV download service for PlayStation

sony ps3Word that Sony may be again launching a movie and TV download service was met today with interest and a bit of much-deserved scoffing.

It’s not like Sony hasn’t tried this before. Remember Movielink? Thought so. (It was sold to Blockbuster, by the way.) Remember Sony Connect? It shut down in March.

Heck, since the monumental success of the Walkman ages ago — in an analog world far, far away — Sony has pretty much failed at every digital offering, minus the early PlayStations and some home theater equipment. The whole digital music thing passed Sony by as Apple took over the Walkman mantle with the iPod, iTunes, and the rest of its digital lifestyle ecosystem.

The Los Angeles Times today reported that Sony is again in talks with Hollywood muckety-mucks regarding a download service that would beam movies and television shows from the Internet to the PlayStation 3.

But because said muckety-mucks are hush-hush over the negotiations, not much else is known — no pricing or if the movies and TV shows are for rent or purchase. One tantalizing tidbit, however, is being floated about.

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The mobile web isn't dead. It's just starting.

mowserThe mobile Web is dead! The mobile Web is dead! The mobile Web is dead!

Or says Chicken Little, aka Russell Beattie, the founder of Mowser, a Menlo Park, Calif., startup focused on mobile Web browsing. Beattie delivered the news Monday that Mowser “is at the end of its life in its current form.”

For that, I am truly sorry. Beattie, who has invested everything he has in Mowser for the past year, is a gutsy entrepreneur who knows a little something about mobile. From November 2004 to September 2006, Beattie worked at Yahoo! creating mobile products and content.

Beattie left to launch Mowser, a Web site focused on content adaption for mobile phones. You can read about his experiences on his blog, but what it all comes down to after a year of intense work is that “I don’t actually believe in the ‘Mobile Web’ anymore” and the market “is limited at best, and dying at worst.”

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