Microsoft selling DRM-free MP3s in Zune store

Microsoft has just announced that it will sell more than a million DRM-free tracks in the Zune store. In other news, Satan just sent out for a snow-shovel.
The Zune Marketplace is officially adding DRM-free music support, launching with over a million DRM-free MP3 tracks. As we mentioned earlier, other details (like which labels, whether there is a DRM-free upgrade path is for users who've bought music with DRM, price differences, etc.) are not yet known.
Link (Thanks, Sam!)


  1. Dare I say that MSFT is responding to the DAP market with some agility? The fact that someone needs to purchase two iPods to get a roughly comparable feature set to one Zune, hell really must have frozen over.

    Competition benefits us all so cheers to the Redmond gang.

  2. Is it just me, or is Microsoft being nicer than Mac these days? What with Mac’s iPhone and iTunes irking many who want more freedom and versatility, Microsoft seems to be prodding us in the back saying “Remember us?”. I may be saying this purely because I’m irritated with iPhone and iTunes. However, as with PC’s, I’m glad to see that we are hacking into the system and TRYING to take what’s ours (user freedom) i.e. iPhone unlocking.

  3. The link does not say, but they are probably the same tracks available on Amazon from Universal and EMI. Allowing the sale of DRM-free music is not the choice of MS, it is the choice of the content owners.
    The reason that ITMS sells DRM tracks is because initially that was the ONLY way they could get content. Now they have convinced some content owners to allow tracks without DRM.
    I believe that if Apple could sell all tracks without DRM, they would. But right now Universal is attempting to turn the tables on Apple by allowing AMAZON (and others) to sell their music DRM-free, but NOT allowing Apple. The sole purpose of that is to try and stick it to Apple. It won’t work, but that is another story.
    Sorry to disappoint you but this is not about MS “being nicer” than Mac.
    The recording labels are freaking out because they no longer “control” the distribution of their product, Apple’s iPod does.
    This is their ham-handed attempt to get control back. It won’t work, but its a start. I can see more labels removing their content from ITMS and allowing it to be distributed elsewhere with no DRM, but its not about “being nice”. It is about control.

  4. I like how folks with the original Zunes will be getting ALL the new software features of the new Zunes – including a lot of the locks on what you could do with it being removed. Contrast that with the latest iPhone updates.

    But when can I get a Zune in Canada?

  5. I just dunno, man…this is kind of freakin’ me out! What’s next? The rebirth of SCO as a company with a product?

  6. >> The rebirth of SCO as a company with a product?

    Yes. Well, sort of.

    (Bear with me for a moment here.)

    Microsoft was originally a Unix shop. It’s first OS was Unix for PC’s – Microsoft Xenix.

    Xenix had some interesting enhancements (multiple virtual consoles — later inherited by Linux, record-locking facilities for database programming, user-friendly menus, etc). A guy named Linus much later essentially replicated all the major design decisions that Microsoft put into XENIX for the PC but using an independent codebase. You could call Microsoft the “father” of Linux, just to annoy people. (To provoke violence, mention that Apple’s first Unix-based OS was Microsoft Xenix on the Apple Lisa.)

    For a while Microsoft was shipping DOS software that installed into bin and etc directories. (The mscdex diskette for example.)

    Xenix was spun off to SCO as SCO Xenix, which became SCO Unix when they got the nameing rights. (Microsoft had contracted out to SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) for much of the original Xenix development. This isn’t the lawsuit-happy SCO Group of today – that’s a different company which bought the name and some of the rights.)

    NOW… Novell holds all the Unix rights, and the SCO Group has been vanquished. And Novell has been in bed with Microsoft. And Microsoft has been dabbling in Linux in other ways – offering technical help to the Mono and Linux Silverlight projects for example.

    Watch for a new Microsoft Unix; SCO Unix with added Linux compatibility. It’ll be marketed as a new version of thier old product, to ignore the GPL. It’ll have Novell’s blessing; like Novell Linux, it’ll be marketed as a “legal Linux” that big business can adopt. It’ll play nice with other Microsoft products.

    It’ll win awards for “wrong on most levels”.

  7. Along the much-needed Zune improvements, Microsoft seems to be adapating the “do what they do best, do the opposite of their worst” tactic. Will it work? Don’t know, but the Zune might be a contender now.

  8. I think the Zune can only truly be a contender if they stop crippling non-DRMed tracks with the stupid 3-play-then-die ‘feature’ when sharing via wi-fi.

    The ability to sync via wi-fi is a huge improvement though.

  9. @Sam

    The Zune syncs via wi-fi? Hmm, I might have to start looking into a Zune when my ipod’s battery finally dies completely!

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