updated 10:45 am EDT, Wed April 23, 2008
MS Locks MSN Music Users
Microsoft late yesterday stirred controversy by telling former customers of its shuttered MSN Music service that it will shut down its license activation system for the service by the end of August. Although it allows customers to play any purchased songs on existing operating systems and computers, any music transfered to a new PC or OS install after the cutoff date will no longer be authorized to play.
The company doesn't provide a reason for the shutdown but is believed to be both a question of cost-cutting measures as well as a means of steering customers towards newer and more active stores, including Microsoft's own Zune Marketplace. The store launched along with the Zune player in late 2006 and is seen as the company's preferred music service. Both MSN Music and the MTV-supported URGE store have since been shut down in the wake of the Zune Marketplace's appearance.
Critics of digital rights management (DRM) schemes have warned that such problems are likely to occur as long as music and video is copy protected, as they typically depend on the host company remaining both in business and actively interested in maintaining the rights system for legacy users. Stores such as Amazon MP3 have insisted on DRM-free tracks in part to guarantee the survival of tracks regardless of the company's own actions.