MSN backs off on plans to nuke DRM-locked MSN Music collections

MSN has abandoned (for now) its plans to shut down the DRM server for MSN music. Back in April, Microsoft announced that people who bought DRM-crippled music from MSN would lose the right to play it the next time they switched PCs or reinstalled their OSes. Now Reed Savory reports on this email from MSN:
Dear MSN Music customer,

On April 22, Microsoft notified you that as of August 31st, 2008, we would be changing the level of support for music purchased from MSN Music, and while your existing purchased music would continue to play, you would no longer be able to authorize new PCs and devices to play that music.

After careful consideration, Microsoft has decided to continue to support the authorization of new computers and devices and delivery of new license keys for MSN Music customers through at least the end of 2011, after which we will evaluate how much this functionality is still being used and what steps should be taken next to support our customers. This means you will continue to be able to listen to your purchased music and transfer your music to new PCs and devices beyond the previously announced August 31, 2008 date.

Microsoft continues to recommend that you back up your music on CD or hard drive along with other important data.


MSN Music team

Link (Thanks, Reed!)


  1. I thought that since we don’t own our music we weren’t allowed to make CDs. If suddenly the music is ours do with as we will, why is it that Microsoft can decide to deny us the ability to listen to it?

  2. It’s probably preaching to the converted here, but don’t buy content that is infested with DRM. if you do, you’ve just coupled your ability to access that content to that company, and the technology and platforms they choose to support.

    At the very least, you’ll spend masses of time having to remove DRM from stuff you paid for, just so that you can use it.

  3. So the average MSN customer has to listen to the music now? How many times must a song get played in order to justify keeping their server up past 2011? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? Even when the DRM overlords are appearing to be benevolent they are still telling you how to listen to your music.

  4. what’s the point of backing up bug-infested files if you won’t be able to listen them again?

  5. “Changing the level of support”? Scummy corporate newspeak. Speak normal English, you clods.

  6. OMG. That’s so typical of how “business as usual” Microsoft is… and how totally out of touch with its customers.

    “Yeah officer, I didn’t shoot and kill him, I changed my level of service for his life.”

    Nsty wsly wrds t cvr ttl ss-rpng. dts.

  7. Interesting that these companies are gradually realizing that DRM is becoming a liability for them. It’s like the difference between a 401k and a pension. Uncrippled files you can fire off to the consumer and forget, but DRM is something you have to maintain (or face angry customers) for the life of the file! (which could be decades!) Heck, if someone dies and their files get carried on to someone else, DRM-infested files could need support for generations!

  8. Dear valued MSN Music Customer –

    We here at MSN Music really care that you shelled out your hard-earned cash to buy our cruddy DRM-infected music, and that’s why we’ve decided to allow you continued access to it until such a time that MSN Music deems the service too good for you and your newfangled fancypants computers.

    Thanks for putting up with us at least until then. If you decide to start purchasing music elsewhere, be informed that MSN Music, its partners and affiliates, reserve the right to invade your home, eat your pizza, and sodomize your pet chihuahua, unless you tell us that we probably shouldn’t.

    Sincerely yours,

    Some Clueless Asshat, LLD

  9. WFT … why isn’t Microsoft just removing the DRM for their customers?

    That’d be the logical way to shut down MSN Music.

  10. reason number 785647283 why Microsoft really, truly, doesn’t give a flying f_ck about it’s customers.

  11. #12: I bet the record companies have something to say about that, and have the contract to prove it.

  12. Is the recommendation to “back up your music on CD” actually a veiled request for their customers to burn the tracks to CD so they don’t need the DRM servers any more?

    Microsoft advocating DRM workarounds? Done with this deniability, it’s less of a PR disaster than cutting off its users’ access to the music they’ve already paid for.

  13. If they take away the ability to play the music you pay for- isn’t that stealing? You paid money for it, they took it away. Unless they are going to issue refunds…

    Of course, I am sure there were some weasel terms in the “license agreement” that everyone clicks through that said something to the effect “we can change the terms of whether you can actually listen to the music you paid for, blah blah blah.”

  14. @ Aelfscine: Your post makes me think of Charles Stross’s Glasshouse (spoiler warning!), because the protagonist participates in an experiment to recreate 20th century American life, and part of the reason for the recreation is because most data from the late 20th to late 21st century was ‘encrypted’ (read DRM). Ha ha.

  15. wouldn’t validating a virtual machine to play your music solve this problem? and you could simply carry this machine around on a DVD or even a pendrive?

    probably I’m talking nonsense…

  16. I’m guessing they have continuing legal obligations that prevent them from releasing a DRM unwrapper. Not only have they screwed the customer, they’ve screwed themselves into supporting an unprofitable product.

  17. But this is surely illegal (or soon to be) in Canada.. Is microsoft encouraging people to break the law?

  18. This really is a beautiful example case, beautiful in proportion to how many people it affects. Lots of people are hopefully realizing what DRM means now, and Microsoft is footing the bill for this educational experience.

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