Microsoft

Zune can't squirt no more

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One of Microsoft's most touted features for their latest "iPod killer", the Zune, was to be able to let someone else borrow your song for three day, through a process nicknamed "squirting", before it would automatically expire. Well, it seems that two of the largest record companies in the world, Sony and Universal Music, didn't like that idea and through the options they set on songs you buy from Microsoft's Zune music store are denying you the right to do this with their music, upwards of 40-50% by some counts. The best part is that there's no promotion of this little factoid, the only way to find out if the music you paid for the right to squirt is to try it and see if it works! Ooppsie! I guess it goes back to Steve Jobs' idea of just letting the person you wish to hear the song to just listen to one of the earpieces on your iPod. Duh!

Reasons why Microsoft's OpenXML standard is junk

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Here's a wonderful explanation of why Microsoft's "open" OpenXML "standard" is a wolf in sheep's clothing:

In short, the specification is littered with little tidbits which say that to properly display a file you must understand details of how 12 year old software (Word 95) worked, or reverse engineer it. So here's a wonderful schematic on how to build a new house, but the kitchen won't fit unless you know how to arrange atoms at the quantum level, meagre saws won't work. And that, folks, is why I don't use Microsoft software and stopped buying their junk several years ago.

Update: Just to better explain why this is a problem, there is no guarantee that Microsoft is using its own specifications in its own software, namely Office 2007. In fact current reports state that they are doing their old tricks of using a mix of the current specifications with chunks of the older (undocumented) formats thrown in for good measure. Given this you'll have a slim chance of being able to use their published specifications and generate the same output that their own software creates. That is why people should use software that supports the internationally recognized OpenDocument format in either KDE's KOffice, Openoffice.org, StarOffice or the other programs that support it.

MSFT's new Zune incompatible with Plays For Sure

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In 2005 (IIRC) Microsoft released a media initiative called Plays For Sure along with a number of both device manufacturers and online music stores. The idea was that you would be able to buy any number of devices from different companies, then buy music from different stores and be sure the music would work with the player. Well, it seems Microsoft has had enough of this idealistic "partnership" or "play nice for the consumers" thing and is going back to their old practice of locking everyone out: their new Zune players are incompatible with music bought for the old stores and the old players will not be compatible with music from the new Zune store. Yeah, that's why people still buy Microsoft products / services, they like having to re-buy everything every two years. Good on you, MSFT!

Now, lets compare that to Apple's iPod and iTunes Store: every single iPod sold since the beginning is still able to play music from the store today, and every new iPod is still able to play music bought from the store on day 1. Yes, it is vendor lock-in, but at least they tend not to give their customers the shaft quite as often. And they have BSG ;-)

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