The sad saga of Microsoft’s PlaysForSure Digital Rights Management brand for multimedia content has apparently come to a bizarre end as Microsoft’s PlaysForSure Web page (captured above) unexpectedly revealed that PlaysForSure is being subsumed by the “Certified for Windows Vista” logo. If you feel a certain amount of cognitive dissonance with the idea of media players and content (much of them already in use with Windows XP) being labeled with a Vista operating system logo, you’re not alone:
Those of you with players from SanDisk, Nokia, and Creative among others, looking for compatible music from Napster, Real Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, Wal-Mart and such must now look for the “Certified for Windows Vista” logo, not PlaysForSure. Of course, Microsoft’s Zune is also certified for Windows Vista, just not certified for Windows Vista so it won’t play back the same protected files. Man, could DRM get any more consumer unfriendly?
Microsoft’s portable media center partners knew the game was over long ago as did MSN Music users and what few subscribers there were for the Microsoft-MTV Urge music service so I guess we have to chalk this up as merely herding the remaining stragglers to the exit. It’s also a way to obscure the way that Microsoft left PlaysForSure partners and customers out in the cold when they went their own way with the Zune.
In December 2005 when MTV and Microsoft announced the URGE music service with great fanfare, it was slated to be a major feature of Windows Media Player 11. Before it got launched however, Microsoft introduced the Zune and the Zune Marketplace and somehow the MTV marketing blitz never materialized. Now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that MTV is switching horses and merging URGE into a joint venture with RealNetworks (who has its own incompatible Rhapsody service) and with Verizon Wireless handling the mobile distribution.
Microsoft Corp. today released to the public Microsoft® Windows Media® Player 11 for Windows® XP, a significant milestone for music fans and the digital entertainment experience on Windows. This latest version of Windows Media Player offers consumers a test-drive of the breakthrough capabilities in Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista™, including enhanced search and media management technologies, a visually driven user interface, and optimized support for portable music players.
Windows Media Player 11 features seamless integration with URGE, MTV Networks Co.’s digital music service. URGE builds upon MTV Networks’ renowned music heritage, offering rich, hand-crafted programming, first-rate editorial content, and innovative music discovery features to create a truly immersive entertainment experience. The incredibly fast search capabilities of Windows Media Player 11 provide consumers with instant access to the entire URGE catalog of more than 110,000 artists and 2 million songs.
There are more details on new features by following the link and if you can pass the Windows Genuine Advantage test, you can download WMP 11 here. However, as I have mentioned previously, the biggest question is where Windows Media Player stands now that the incompatible Zune music client and DRM are due in a few weeks.
Microsoft had hoped to release the final version of Windows Media Player 11 on Tuesday, but the company said the jukebox software was not quite sounding the right note.
“As with any release, quality is our top priority, and we felt we needed a few additional days to bring Windows Media Player 11 up to the high quality standards we–and our customers and partners–demand.”
The software maker did not go into the specifics of which areas didn’t meet the bar. It only noted that the final version would be released “soon,” with no mention of a specific date. Several enthusiast sites, including Neowin, said that the company is now aiming for an Oct. 30 release.
Since WMP 11 is also bundled with Vista, I’m sure there’s a certain urgency involved.