MSN Music to shut down, leaving DRM customers in the lurch

Microsoft is ceasing support for its MSN Music service. After August 31, 2008, people who have bought music from the service will no longer be able to move that music to different computers, or even change the operating system on their current computers.

With restricted music, every time you move it to a new system, you have to get new approval. Microsoft is shutting down the servers that currently grant that approval, which leaves everyone who bought music from them holding locks with no keys, and no recourse.

They attempt to excuse this move by saying that they have been focusing on their Zune service instead, and that customers should use that. But people who choose the Zune or any other defective by design product will end up in the same place just as soon as Microsoft makes the inevitable decision to abandon them for some new scheme.

Unbelievably, Microsoft has continued repeating the trope that they don't want DRM, and that if the labels would just let them, they would happily offer DRM-free tracks. Perhaps they haven't been reading the news -- all major labels are pursuing DRM-free options, leaving it very apparent that DRM is Microsoft's strategy for attempting to tie customers to their devices and operating systems, and that this finger-pointing is just a shell game.

This isn't the first time people have had access to their music and movies revoked (we're looking at you, MLB and Google Video), and it won't be the last unfortunately. But thankfully, this mode of selling media is dying. It was one thing when the threat of revocation was just some fine print, but now that it's become a demonstrated reality, people are voting with their dollars for DRM-free living.

We understand that Microsoft is coming to town next week, bringing their "Digital Dorm Room" truck to MIT on April 28. will be there to meet them!