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Microsoft Businesses Apple

Microsoft Unhappy With HP's iTunes Decision 1020

Posted by timothy
from the limiting-choices-incorporated dept.
rbrandis writes "The general manager of Microsoft's Windows digital media division David Fester has suggested that iTunes' emerging dominance would be bad for consumers, because it would limit them to the iPod, as opposed to limiting them to Microsoft based products. In a moment of what must have been an attempt at ironic humor he said, 'Windows is about choice - you can mix and match software and music player stuff. We believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services.'"
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Microsoft Unhappy With HP's iTunes Decision

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  • i do have a choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Triumph The Insult C (586706) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:47PM (#7958923) Homepage Journal
    and i choose to not use your "enabling" products
  • Bad for consumers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrLudicrous (607375) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:47PM (#7958924) Homepage
    I think what he really meant is that is would be bad for Microsoft.
  • by blurfus (606535) <slashdot AT blurfus DOT com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:49PM (#7958946) Homepage Journal
    Windows is about choice
    Tell me Mr. Smith, what good is to have choices if they don't work?

    Apple's iTunes just works... it's that simple.
  • by TheWart (700842) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:50PM (#7958953)
    Dell says this:

    "According to the New York Times, Dell also suggests HP is making a mistake. A Dell spokesman said: "We expect competition and it's good for customers. Over time, however, customers will want industry standard choices.''"

    I am no English expert, but it sure sounds like they are tryin to say that WMA should be the only game in town, and are at the same time trying to play it off that they 'want' competition.
  • Heh, Fester (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thelexx (237096) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:51PM (#7958970)
    Actually makes it sound pretty reasonable if you just imagine that it's Uncle Fester [toyadz.com] saying it.
  • Choice? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I_am_Rambi (536614) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:52PM (#7958976) Homepage
    Windows is about choice...


    Theres a catch 22 here, you have to use windows to have... ummmmm..... m$ make your choice for you.
  • choice is there (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hamoe (260438) <zackham@gmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:52PM (#7958982) Homepage
    The choice in music services are there and will continue to be, and I'm sure there are a good number of folks who want to use their pre-existing mp3 players (or not buy an i-pod when they do decide to get a portable player) who won't be subscribing to i-tunes. I just think this is a case of Microsoft using a valid point (choice is good) to illustrate nothing (choice exists).
  • by tuxlove (316502) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:53PM (#7958990)
    ...considering that HPs decision to add WMA support to the iPod means that the iPod will *be* a Microsoft-enabled device.
  • Hello, shoe... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:54PM (#7959005)
    ...welcome to The Other Foot.
  • Re:choice (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:54PM (#7959008)
    This mod needs to lose his mod ability. You can't use a deep hatred of an OS to say someone is a troll for believing the story.
  • I like MS, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wshwe (687657) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:55PM (#7959011)
    I also like my iPod. Microsoft should be grateful HP will work with Apple to add WMA support to the iPod. No major digital music service will offer MP3 or other open source format music for the simple reason they lack digital rights management. To force the industry's hand, people would have to boycott iTunes, Musicmatch, Real Networks, Walmart, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:56PM (#7959027)
    Have you ever tried MS Media player on the Apple? It pretty much sucks.
  • Wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#7959036) Journal
    This is the same 'No American has a God given right to a job' Carly that said that EVERY HP product coming out after Q2 2004 will have DRM built in. Hell, she even wants to make recording like a VCR on your HP impossible unless the copyright holder agrees.

    She is no ones friend save for herself and her fellow exec. She thinks nothing of the employers/users/shareholder of HP.
  • by Rude Turnip (49495) <(valuation) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#7959037)
    "If HP/Apple can get iPods to chat with HP Windows boxen..."

    I'm sure someone out there with an HP system running Windows has an iPod running iTunes for Windows. So there is no "if," because it's already happening. All the iPod is is a portable firewire drive...so as long as your distro supports firewire, you can use it.

    The *real* question how soon will it take for some enterprising individual to be able to play the songs they bought on iTunes Music Store under Linux?
  • by cyberworm (710231) <cyberworm&gmail,com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#7959038) Homepage
    but can't all these players play mp3's? I've got an iPod and other than the slowness of using iTunes I've had no problem putting MP3's on it. Isn't that a free choice that I have, or are they trying to push people into using WMA or AAC only, in portable music players? And (as the article suggests) if they are working on playing wma on iPods, is there even a problem here?
  • Re:choice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kevin_Cedrone (415009) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:57PM (#7959045) Homepage
    I'm sorry.

    I was under the mistaken impression that iTunes only worked with iPods as far as mobility went... Live'n'learn I s'pose.
  • AppleTurns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by computerme (655703) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:58PM (#7959049)
    AppleTurns site translated it this way:

    Check it out, this was the best a company spokesperson could muster to undercut the announcement: "Windows is all about choice... we believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services." Translation: "Use any service you want as long as it sells Windows Media, buy any player out there as long as it plays Windows Media-- but for heaven's sake, don't buy one of those wretched iPod thingies or we'll be completely boned with our whole plan to monopolize digital media commerce and then we might actually have to start innovating for our paychecks for a change." Or, to put it a little more succinctly, "you can have any color you want, as long as it's black."
  • Re:Isn't he right? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Matey-O (518004) * <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:59PM (#7959057) Homepage Journal
    correct me if I'm wrong, but you can only listen to iTunes content on an iPod.
    You're only one 'Burn' button away from a DRM free CD you can play anywhere. (which is a good idea from a backup standpoint)
  • Convicted Monopoly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by catwh0re (540371) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:59PM (#7959058)
    One Platform: x86
    One OS: Windows
    One Version: whatever they haven't killed updates and support for, today.

    Where do you want to go today? are you sure it wasn't msn.com, oh well, i'll take you there anyway.

    I think MS are just upset because apple found a way around media player(albeit all MS applications) stealing default types, regardless of the user's chosen options. My favourite however is when two MS apps fight over an extension, like word and internet explorer with the .html extension.

  • iPod vs Dell DJ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mage66 (732291) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:59PM (#7959059)
    The bottom line is that the iPod and iTunes provides a better user experience.

    I had a 5gb 1st Gen iPod, and I now have a Dell DJ (Dell gave me the credit, Apple wouldn't).

    I prefer the iPod.

    The DJ works ok, but the user experience isn't as good.

    There's no way to stop a playing song. Only pause it.

    Syncing music is not intutitive.

    Navigating through the tracks on the DJ takes FOREVER.

    It's just not as well thought out as iTunes and the iPod are.

    I'm thinking of selling my Dell DJ on eBay, and buying an iPod or an iPod mini.

  • by Soko (17987) on Monday January 12, 2004 @10:59PM (#7959068) Homepage
    Windows is not about choice - it is about having developers and service providers further entrench the Windows hegonomy, with little to no effort on the part of MS.

    HP made a choice, as the market seems to be doing as well.

    Let's see how well Microsoft lives with this.

    Oh, and to all of you who say "Watch how high the price of Windows goes for HP", Microsoft won't dare do anything of the sort. Having both IBM and HP actively looking to kill Windows is not something Microsoft shareholders would appreciate.

    Soko
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:00PM (#7959070) Journal
    Then why does it do everything possible to destroy it? Lotus 1-2-3 for Dos, WordPerfect (countless times), DR-DOS, OS/2, OpenDoc, Go/pen computing, Netscape, Java - and those are only the examples I can think of off the top of my head.

    In fact, there has never been a more monopolistic, closed technology advocate than Microsoft. If someone comes up with something original, or something that's superior to anything Microsoft can engineer, then they'll be driven into the ground by the full force of the Microsoft machine.

    I use Microsoft products (eg, Windows 2000, Office) and I also use non-Microsoft products that compete directly with the company's offerings (eg, Opera, Winamp). I'm not pro- or anti-Microsoft. What I am is pro-choice. And, frankly, that's one thing Microsoft can accurately never claim to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:02PM (#7959089)
    If other companies built players for Apple then OS X would support them too however no one does. Its not apples fault its the companies like roxio sony and others who choose to not make OS X products.
  • There're two basic methods of Innovation at work here, Apple's brand and Microsoft's. Microsoft wants to leverage the choice of software tools made by third-party developers (that they haven't driven under by co-opting technology from) to promote a "choice" among applications on the Windows platform.

    Apple wants to provide the "choice" of a Non-Windows platform and non-Microsoft technology. And Apple, for all their ills as far as co-opting technology in ways distressingly similar to Microsoft, has never been known to utterly decimate the competition or actively belittle or disparage them. What Apple does when they add new features to the OS is to simply set the bar higher for 3rd party developers.

    Apple bothers me in some things, but when it comes right down to it, I don't see Apple trying dirty tricks in the background to drive anyone away from creating music services for the Mac platform. Microsoft would just -love- to push vendors into a MS Music Store lock in.
  • by phorm (591458) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:03PM (#7959100) Journal
    Why would we make up stories about corporate stupidity. Honestly, many of them are so contradictory and say such stupid things that they make themselves look far dumber than we ever could.

    I particularly like the Microsoft=Choice part... which is only true to the extent that it is "Choose, but only from the selection we give you."
  • by Quarters (18322) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:03PM (#7959103)
    MS gives you a basic movie editting program for free and you complain that it only writes files of one type?

    Damn, but I'm pissed that (EMACS or VI) doesn't save out Amiga Wordworth word processor files! I mean, I got it for free, it should do what I want in every case, right?

    If you know what your needs are (e.g. saving of a certain file type from your movie editor) then you should research the problem and chose the software that solves your problem. Getting the free MS solution and then using it as a strawman argument against Microsoft is just petty.

  • Re:Isn't he right? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silentbozo (542534) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:04PM (#7959123) Journal
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can only listen to iTunes content on an iPod.

    You can play DRM-encoded AAC iTunes content on iPods, other iTunes equipped Macs and PCs, burn the content to CD, and stream your AAC library to other Macs/PCs on the local network.

    However, it doesn't matter. You could turn your argument on it's head and state that you can only listen to DRM-WMA content on DRM-WMA devices (and exactly how many WMA devices currently support DRM-locked WMA files?), whereas you can listen to DRM-encoded AAC files on any iPod/HP Music Player/Mini iPod or iTunes equipped Mac or PC.

    Both would still pale in comparison to the number of devices that can support MP3s. Microsoft is pissed because the choices that HP is offering doesn't include their brand of proprietary lock, weakening the chances that WMA will become the new .DOC of the media world.
  • by Amiga Trombone (592952) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:05PM (#7959125)
    HP believes that it is better positioned than any other company to bridge the gap between Apple and Windows. Fiorina told the Times: "The next big thing isn't the next gizmo or killer app or hot box. Customers want all this to work together and they want a seamless approach. We're very much going to make sure that the Microsoft and Apple worlds work together. That's part of the power we bring to this thing."

    This is probably the only remotely interesting initiative HP has embarked on since Carly took over.

    Let's hope it's more successful than most of them have been.
  • by UPAAntilles (693635) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:06PM (#7959141)
    Isn't burning all of my music to CD and then ripping it really annoying? I think so.
  • by MikeMo (521697) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:09PM (#7959166)
    How is Quicktime part of this discussion? Apple's iTMS is in AAC format. The iPod supports AAC, MP3, Audible, AIFF, and WAV except WMA.

    AND btw, AAC *is* an industry standard. It's just not the one Microsoft wants. WMA, on the other hand, is *proprietary*, and is not a "standard" at all. Just like all the other Windows stuff, the like to call it "the standard" simply because it's popular, and because they get away with it. Another example of doublespeak!
  • by SEE (7681) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:10PM (#7959176) Homepage
    The closest analogy I can think of is trying to have make a marriage work with two spouses at the same time.

    Most marriages have two spouses; a husband and a wife.

    Furthermore, responding to what you meant, there are significant numbers of legal marriages where the husband has two to four wives simultaneously, in dozens of countries around the world.
  • by Arkham (10779) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:12PM (#7959190)
    As you can see in this document [apple.com], iTunes supports quite a lot of different third-party players, including Nomads, Rios, and others.

    What these other players do NOT support is AAC-DRM files like those sold by the iTMS. I'm sure Apple would be happy to license their DRM scheme to a third-party mp3 player if they wanted to do so and the price were right. Money talks.
  • by marauder404 (553310) <marauder404@@@yahoo...com> on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:15PM (#7959230)
    Actually, you're reading the whole article wrong. The article isn't about the music format -- it's about the music service. You're probably right in that Microsoft wants WMA to be the leading digital format, but what they really want is for a ton of companies to be offering music services, all competing against each other and, hopefully for MSFT, all using WMA. The primary benefit, of course, is market share.
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:17PM (#7959242)

    Wow! MS is complaining about lack of choice. That caught me off guard.

    Its my belief that MS feels it can no longer expand on its computer and software business. It is now trying to buy out and/or control large amounts of digital media e.g. an ISP, MSNBC, XP Media Edition, Media Player, X-Box, Hotmail and so on. In other words, MS is only complaining because iTunes' success is going to hamper - to some extent - its ability to dominate the digital music format.

    Some of these business units, admitedly have not experienced great success. But, what happens if MS decides XP ME which is hooked up to your television only works with their music service, you can only use their media player and you can't setup a regular POP3 account and instead have to use Hotmail (== advertisements)? I think this will inhibit competiton!

  • Re:choice? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b-baggins (610215) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:18PM (#7959259) Journal
    You can play protected AAC on exactly ONE player right now, the iPod. In a couple of months you can play them on two: The iPod, and the HP Digital Music Player. When iTunes remains the dominant online music store throughout this year, other MP3 players will jump off of cliffs to get AAC compatibility so they have a prayer of even maintaining their meager market share.

    The completely static "X doesn't exist NOW, so it never will" reality you live in must be tremendously boring.
  • by FattMattP (86246) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:20PM (#7959282) Homepage
    Over time, however, customers will want industry standard choices.
    A clue for Dell: iPod and iTMS is the industry standard.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:22PM (#7959302) Homepage
    a) Dropping AAC and go WMA only on iPods or
    b) Support as many formats as possible, and let the "huge number of devices" start supporting AAC instead. Guess which one Microsoft favors?

    Microsoft should be glad for this decision. The iPod was in a position to make AAC the only commercial format on the scene, with their combined iTMS/iPod power. Instead, I assume that Microsoft will now start getting royalties on every iPod sold.

    Personally, I think Apple fumbled the ball on both the mini-iPod and this. They should have made it cheaper to catch the mass market, and kept it MP3/AAC only to keep competing WMA shops out.

    I think Apple simply isn't ready to change that much. With these moves, they're aiming up to be a niche player in a Microsoft (WMA) market yet again. They should have gone for broke and taken the market. Then they could be licencing other players to play iTMSs protected files, not the other way around.

    Kjella
  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xenoandroid (696729) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:27PM (#7959338) Homepage
    How many times must people say this, you can easily convert from AAC, AAC is not Apple owned and is an MPEG standard (any company could add AAC to their player if they care to). iTunes music store is the most stress-free and has the best selection of music, therefore the "lock-in" you experience is what you trade in for not wanting to kick someone in the groin for the inconsistent licensing agreements.

    It's completely moronic when people blame a company that's doing something that other companies never tried (a better codec, less restricting DRM, seamless integration) all while people are rooting against them. If you're going to blame someone, blame the other companies for not supporting AAC in their players, Apple is already working on Windows Media for iPod.
  • by jdifool (678774) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:27PM (#7959341) Homepage Journal
    I agree with you on that point, Microsoft *gives* you *some* choice.
    Microsoft gives you the choice of applications you can install on your computer : Winamp, Sonique, iTunes, WMP, in that case.

    The fact that, pragmatically, you are not given the choice of your OS when you buy a x86-based computer because Windows is pre-installed on 99% of them, doesn't mean that Joe feels his freedom of choice impaired. Basically for him freedom of choice is not, because he doesn't know what an OS is. What this MS guy told was not for us, it was for Joe...

    Every pro-linux site should link to an educational site that teach you, in no good-bad manner, what an OS is, and why it is important to know that.

    jdif

  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by john82 (68332) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:27PM (#7959346)
    Except that you aren't REQUIRED to use AAC. There's this other format that iPod will use. Maybe you've heard of it.

    It's called MP3.

    So much for vendor lock-in. 'Course, if you really want to use AAC, you could use iPod or this from Nokia [mphone.co.uk] and while we're talking about Nokia, what about that cool new N-Gage [cellular.co.za] . Then again there's this new model from O2 [theregister.co.uk]. And of course, it won't be long before you can buy HP's iPod clone.
  • by El (94934) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:28PM (#7959350)
    Uh, 99% of Dell's business is selling Windows boxes, and they're making good money at it. ~15% of HP's business is selling Windows boxes, and they're losing money hand over fist at it. I'm sure HP would just LOVE an excuse to get out of the PC and Laptop business, and focus on other areas where they can make a profit. Now, which one of the two can AFFORD to piss off Microsoft?
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:28PM (#7959354) Homepage Journal
    I am no English expert, but it sure sounds like they are tryin to say that WMA should be the only game in town, and are at the same time trying to play it off that they 'want' competition.

    Doubletalk is doubleplus good!

    Its a sentence constructed in a way that is meant to make its readers come off with a feeling that 1) Dell wants what's best for them, 2) Dell made industry choices based on what is best for the costumer (damned lie), 3) Dell's choice will become a standard, and therefore: if you buy a different standard than what Dell is selling you will be buying something that will be nonstandard in the future (ooooh, bad!).

    In other words: FUD.
  • by martinX (672498) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:33PM (#7959387)
    Maybe he thinks that Quicktime is part of the discussion because you have to install it in order to use iTunes and the iTMS. Of course he misses the point that you have to have Windows installed to play DRMed WMA files...
  • Re:choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mullmusik (680636) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:36PM (#7959412)
    Apple and HP aren't forcing anyone to buy an iPod, or use the iTunes music store. Yes those things are interdependent, but if you don't like that, show them by buying a different mp3 player, and using whatever software and online music service you want.

    Oh yeah, but Apple prevents you from doing that by abusing their overwhelming monopoly in order to get you to do what they want.

    No, wait, that's MS...

    Except in this case Apple is forcing users to use their superior mp3 player to interface with their superior online music store. And if you don't agree with that appraisal, fine, but then why do you care? Just use something else. If there was any real competition to the Apple/iTMS combination nobody would be whining about this.
  • by TurboProp (739874) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:39PM (#7959434)
    'Windows is about choice - you can mix and match software and music player stuff. We believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services.'

    The fact that HP chooses to clone the iPod, or include a music player designed for a certain format doesn't limit anyones choice. These HP boxes are still windows machines, and will support all of the MS 'standards'.

    As I see it; this doesn't harm consumers, and only angers MS because HP is not promoting the windows format.
  • by Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:39PM (#7959439) Homepage
    Much as I distrust Microsoft in many things, I find it hard to believe that Carly Fiorino has anything ethical in her heart, given what was done to the technologies that Compaq pioneered since they were bought by HP, and her view on moving jobs overseas.
  • by Luckboy (152985) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:40PM (#7959442)
    Microsoft wants everyone to use their WMA technology, obviously developed by Microsoft.

    Apple wants us to use AAC, developed by Dolby.

    Last time I looked my stereo, TV, DVD player, Car Stereo, etc etc etc all carry the Dolby logo, not the Microsoft logo.

    It's a simple choice.
  • Re:choice? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xenoandroid (696729) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:41PM (#7959450) Homepage
    You still have to juggle the number of burns/transfers/etc. It's too much work for anybody who is not a masochist. So far I haven't seen any headlines similar to, "Apple kicks Rio to curb after Rio proposes working together to add fair play DRM to their media player lineup."

    And there's still burn to CD->re-rip as Mp3 (as well as other methods) if you're that intent on playing your music on a non-Apple/HP media player.
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:41PM (#7959451) Homepage
    Microsoft shipped Internet Explorer 4.0 with Windows 98. Consumers had a choice then on whether or not to use IE... but they used IE.

    Now iTunes is shipping with Windows on HP machines. Consumers have a choice on whether or not to use iTunes.

    Sounds like the same "choice" as before--so what could Microsoft possibly be worried about? What reason do they have to worry?

    You get three guesses, and the first two don't count.
  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:47PM (#7959492) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft = "embrace and extend" - aka "we'll use rabid business practices to force you out of existence and call it 'innovation'"

    Apple = "our product is smaller, lighter, faster, more stylish, and in almost every way better. And it has a slick marketing campaign. You Suck."

    Of course, the clearest indication of choice in this issue is right before your eyes
    • iTunes for Mac OS
    • iTunes for Windows
    • Windows Media Player for exactly how many non-Microsoft Operating Systems?
  • Re:choice? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday January 12, 2004 @11:53PM (#7959524) Homepage Journal
    if you want to use your purchased music from apple you can (as of righ tnow) play it on exactly 1 portable device, the ipod.

    And exactly every single CD player in existance (including all portables) if you have a burner.

    WMA's can be played on virutally any major mp3 player (except the ipod).

    Every major player except the #1 player? Cute : )
    And as far as I know, if you buy DRMed WMA: No CD burning for you!
  • Re:NEWS FLASH! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jared_hanson (514797) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:15AM (#7959678) Homepage Journal
    I think the bigger issue is with Microsoft bundling technologies with the OS that are impossible to remove from the OS.

    If you buy Mac OS X and don't want iTunes, simple. Drag the iTunes app to the trash and it is gone. No registry mess, just a clean simple removal. Try that with Internet Explorer. I'm betting you can't.

    There is nothing wrong with bundling, per se. It is when you use illegal tactics to force people/manufacturers to use your solution instead of an alternative.
  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 6.023e23 (738640) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:18AM (#7959705)
    iTunes was and is a very bold move to find a way to reach some sort of compromise between the record companies (and RIAA) and the consumers. The manner in which people obtain, manage and listen to their music has changed drastically over the past 5 years and no amount of trying to re-close Pandora's box is going to make things return to what the labels would like to think of as "the good old days". The paradigm shift has started. It takes a great deal of vision, big cajones and some luck to successfully ride the tsunami of a paradigm shift. Needless to say, attempting to do so will gain you a large number of critics, as Apple has witnessed. The whole codec/DRM/player saga is just starting and there are going to be a number of less-than-perfect solutions at first. At least there are some companies willing to stick their necks out to try and find a good answer.
  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkabbe (631234) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:20AM (#7959714)
    here's the deal. You buy a AAC you can play it on exactly (1) player

    Ok, here's the deal. You buy a WMA you can play it on exactly (1) OS.

    You buy a WMA you are LOCKED into Windows. So when you want to play that WMA music you bought on your new computer and it'll have to be money sent to Microsoft. That's vendor lock-in.

    You buy a AAC you can play it on Windows or OS X.

    So AAC is about choice. You see?
  • by RocketScientist (15198) * on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:24AM (#7959745)
    I liked this bit:

    "Microsoft's WMA"

    "Dolby's AAC"

    Which of those companies do you expect to have a higher quality audio codec? Dolby...where have I heard that name before...Oh yeah, just around nearly every single stereo system sold for the last umpteen years. Oh, and "She Blinded Me With Science"....

    Rewrite that statement as:

    "Microsoft's Car"
    "Ford's Car"

    See what I mean?
  • by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:28AM (#7959775) Homepage Journal
    MSSpeak - We give you CHOICE in the PDA market

    Real World - We charge all vendors equally and make all our money off of the applications you have to buy to interact with these devices. MS Office, Exchange, and we make it next to impossible for someone to convert Lotus Notes into your Windoows CE, er Pocket Windows, er Pocket Windows 2002, er 2003, er hey you need a new PDA every year from our 'choice'

    While my Palm 3.0 OS still works and I can still load what's latest and greatest on it.

    MSSPeak - iTunes is a closed format, they don't offer choice.

    Apple makes a player. It uses FairPlay's DRM. Apple doesn't own fairplay, and there is nothing stopping anyone from releasing players and/or portables to support this. Though people haven't, except one major one... HP.

    However here's another handy dandy pocket windows media os that you ahve to buy all new items for in six months or so that should do everything but support AAC from Apple, but that's OK we have WMA and it even has a true lossless CODEC for you audiophiles - Apple Doesn't! Their software is lossless! BTW our Pocket Media OS will let you play a widescreen movie on a 2" LCD and you'll like it because we said so. Apple is insane saying that no one wants that because we make it and you buy it because we said it's there!

    Whatever. Granted other than AAC that iTunes using being a bit to tight on the compression for my taste *I* like it and I've bought a few hundred songs. Would I care if it died tomorrow and some other vendor came out with a killer app? Heck no, but then again iTMS is the only one in the 10s of millions of songs sold. If 5% of the computer population can do that....
  • Re:Betamax vs. VHS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MasterD (18638) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:29AM (#7959778) Journal
    Wrong [urbanlegends.com]!

    VHS and BETA has almost the exact same quality of video. Sony did license and try to share the standard. Get the facts, man. And BETA eventually allowed you to record more than 1 hour. I rented movies in BETA format. They came as one video.

  • Re:choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leifm (641850) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:32AM (#7959797)
    a) wtf? iTunes doesn't require an iPod, I shop iTunes on occasion don't have an iPod, and I burn CDS. b) How does the HP deal reduce consumer choice, XP has Media Player built in, there's no removing it. So now if you buy an HP you get both. I see no reduction in choice there.
  • Re:choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:33AM (#7959808) Journal
    Well, given that I haven't heard any stories about Apple telling people they wont licence or give them the nessesary information to add the DRM decoding capabilities to their AAC capable players, that seems to be a fault on the part of the player manufacturers doesn't it?

    Come on, if HP can do it, so can Sony, and Rio and all the others.
  • by John.P.Jones (601028) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:33AM (#7959810)
    If Microsoft is wrong then we should be able to design and build a third party media player that can play iTunes Music store songs and a plugin so Winamp can play them.

    Otherwise Microsoft is right... Oh wait you can just Burn a CD in iTunes and rip the CD into mp3 right in iTunes. Nevermind cary on nothing to see here.

  • Re:AppleTurns (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prockcore (543967) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:33AM (#7959811)
    No different from what some of the people in this thread are saying about AAC.

    "You can play AACs in any player you want, as long as it's one made by Apple"

  • by acidfish (687573) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:35AM (#7959820)
    Microsoft wants to create a platform that is used by every man, woman and child, from the day they are born, in every facet of their life.

    By platform I don't just mean Windows desktop PC's... the XBox is one small step for Microsoft, one giant leap for world domination. Consider that Bill Gates' house is one of the most technology-driven pieces of real estate in the world. Imagine if 10 years from now, it was like that everywhere; running all MS software.

    Choices MS wants to give you:

    What wallpaper do you want?
    Will you use XP Home at Home, or be a rebel and use XP Pro?
    Will you buy a Dell, Compaq or HP computer to run Windows on?
    Which charity would you like to see Bill Gates donate to this year?

    The Microsoft Way isn't about eliminating choices; it's about controlling all available choices.
  • by Qrlx (258924) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:39AM (#7959852) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft has never written software that forces a customer to use specific hardware.

    Ah, quite the contrary. Microsoft forces specific hardware manufacturers to only use Microsoft software.

    If Microsoft could get WMA to catch on bigtime, here's what would happen:

    The licensing cost for WMA technology would become so high that it would only be affordable when purchased at "OEM volume." Part of the discount would include requiremnents that players supporing WMA can't support other competing codecs like AAC or Real or (dare I say it... I dare!) Ogg Vorbis.

    In other words, we would be limited to Microsoft-based file formats, Limited compatibility with non-Windows OS, DRM, and so on. You're trying to tell me that the bright side is that we could get a player from any number of manufacturers, and I'm telling you you're wearing glasses so rosy this Apple Lisa looks like a strawberry iMac.

    This, my anonymous coward, is Microsoft's business strategy. It is called "embrace and extend."

    They've "embraced" the mp3 player and are now trying to "extend" their Windows monopoly to include that piece of the hardware market. For this nut to turn, the demand for their entry at the pony show, the WMA format, has to be a hell of a lot stronger than it is now.

    I will not speculate on how Microsoft might pull that off, however if anyone from Microsoft is listening I'm willing to demonstrate for a mere six figures.
  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fermier de Pomme de (570654) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:40AM (#7959856)
    You can use Windows XP Home or Windows XP Pro... your choice! Incorrect. Microsoft is not able to force you to run a Microsoft operating system.
    MS can't exactly force you to install their OS but in the past they were known to coerce vendors into only offering MS operating systems on every machine they shipped if they wanted to buy Windows at a steep discount. If not the vendor was free to 'choose' to offer another OS and pay for Windows licenses at a price that would make them uncompetitive in the low-margin commodity market that PC sales is/was.

    This tactic made is a little bit tough to 'choose' BeOS or OS2 before that.

  • Re:Isn't he right? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pavon (30274) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:58AM (#7959971)
    I really have to agree that m00nun1t has a point. Be honest with yourselves and think about how we would we be reacting if the situations were swapped. We would be accusing Microsoft of embracing and extending the AAC file format with their fairplay DRM. We would attack them of vendor lock-in by bundling iTunes on all version of their OS, and not licencing the DRM to other companies. We would attack them for their anti-competitive vertical integration, and plans to dominate the market. And we would be weakly praising Apple for at least being a little more cooperative with their proprietary file format.

    Second, about the openness of file formats I would rank them from best to worst as such:

    ogg = completely open standard
    mp3, m4a = open standards, but patent encumbered
    wma = proprietary, but widely licenced
    m4p = proprietary, no 3rd party licences (yet)
    Now I can can convert between any of these formats but I will loose quality in doing so. In order to listen to the music in the quality that I purchased it I have to stick with players that can play that file format. Apple's m4p provides the least amount of options for that case, and is the least open.

    I do recognise that they had to have DRM to appease the Record Labels. But I don't know that they would get rid of the DRM if they could. Remember, Apple is subsidizing iTMS off the sales of their iPods and dropping the DRM would open the market up for competition. Then you have a bunch of people buying music off iTMS (which costs Apple money) and playing them on less expensive third party AAC-players. Knowing Apple, they will resist clones for as long as possible.

    I promise you if the tables were turned we would not be giving Microsoft the credit that we are giving Apple, and if you look at history, Jobs really is no more commited to open standards than Gates. I like the work Apple does, but I am very reluctant to invest my money into a music collection where my continued listening is entirely dependant on a single company - that's the whole point of an open standard after all. Especially when higher quality, more open alternatives [wikipedia.org] exist at comparable prices.
  • by Orien (720204) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:03AM (#7959994)
    You've got a great point there. The market it what will decided everything in this case, not the MS monopoly. What I love about this is that unless the competition pulls something out of thier hat quick Apple is well on thier way to perminently dominating digital music DISPITE Microsoft's monopoly. I think Microsoft forsaw the future of digital music a long time ago, and they made sure to have Windows Media Player, and the WMA format ready by the time the market matured. Thanks to Windows Media Player there is an WMA player in 90% of the home pcs on the planet. MS has every intention of levereing thier monopoly to force the market toward WMA just like they forced browsers toward internet explorer, but guess what? This time it didn't work! Dispite the fact that Microsoft has had it's format and media player for many more years than iTunes has been around, Apple has managed to come along and steal away the market and completely take the steam out of the monopoly. I love it. I know the battle is only just starting, and everything could still change, but I would put odds on Apple.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:20AM (#7960080) Journal
    I can sync my iPod with multiple machines. All I have to do is set it for manual syncing.
  • by mrkslntbob (731248) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:21AM (#7960085)
    so what, exactly, is unethical about moving jobs overseas?


    Taking peoples livelyhood away so that you can live your own pockets with a few more millions, and pay some overseas people a wage that will never allow them to buy all these products your company is selling.
    Why do people think this form of globalization is going to better the world. People like her only care about bettering their own bank accounts.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:23AM (#7960090)
    Its a fairly standard bussiness tack. Want to break into a new area, license an indirect competitor's technology. Example: honda wanted to create the passport, a small SUV, so the first two years the re-badge an isuzu rodeo. Then they are in the market early and have the time to develop their own machine.

    In this case it serves another bussiness strategy. Windows Computers are commodities, and among brands with a rep for quality the only distinguishing feature is low price. Dell or HP: buy the cheaper. The only way to beat this game is the way apple does it: differentiate yourself. If you buy dell then you are buying WMA. if you are buying HP you are buying into AAC. One presumes that the computer will come with software that makes it work slightly better with its native player.

    Finally it looks like AAC is about to win. Nokia, panasonic, amybe even RealPlayer are all going to support AAC.

    so HPs move is good for HP. They get room to develop their own. they are in the market early with no R&D costs and differnetiate themselves from dell.

    consumers of course benefit too. HP and others will eventually be making players to compete with ipods. That will bring down prices.

  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:41AM (#7960181)
    AAC isn't a proprietary Apple technology, and there are other AAC players available.

    I am sick and tired of this Red Herring of an argument.

    It doesn't matter if Apple used the "ultra supreme, open standard, endorsed by RMS, JWZ, and YHWH file format", the second they encrypt it using proprietary DRM, it becomes proprietary. Period. Can I play it on my standards-based AAC player? No, therefore it is not an open standard. It is embraced and extended.

    Second, it is irrelevent that iTunes the software can rip, and play strait AAC and burn m4p to CD. MusicMatch's software can rip, and play straid mp3 and burn DRM'ed WMA to CD. Does that make the WMA good? Then why does Apple doing it make m4p good?

    Please stop using this argument. It is a half-truth and you will end up decieving some poor dude into thinking that he can play iTMS music on something other than iTunes and iPod.
  • Can you imagine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by katalyst (618126) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:46AM (#7960203) Homepage
    Microsoft is saying this AFTER HP and apple have decided to add WMA support to the iPods;
    my two cents; if microsoft comes out with a better product, with all the features they promise - they have nothing to worry about - BUT HOW CAN they whine about a product just because it is good and it is not theirs?
  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:52AM (#7960238)
    AFAIC, only iPod can support the m4p file format. There were rumors that one of the Nokia phones could, but I think that that ended up being tracked down to a typo. I know that none of the Panasonic players can support it.

    If you think about, it since iTMS is being subsidized by iPod sales, if Apple were to allow others to make m4p players they would have people buying stuff off of iTMS (which costs Apple money) and playing it on less expensive third party players (which earns Apple nothing). Coupled with Apples past behavior, it is my opinion that they will avoid iPod clones for as long as possible.

    If I am incorrect it would be good to know. I really like Apple's work, but am always wary of them because Jobs has a history of being just as agressive as Gates, and even more reluctant to standardize.
  • Re:choice? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @01:53AM (#7960240)
    You buy an Apple-encrypted AAC file and you can use it on ONE hardware device (an iPod).

    You buy a MSFT-encrypted WMA file and you can play it on FIVE-HUNDRED hardware devices (count 'em).

    Everyone already uses Windows--that choice is irrelevant for 95% of consumers. The hardware choice IS relevant for 95% of consumers.

    Note: this logic doesn't apply to Slashdot and MacRumors readers, but everyone else.
  • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:53AM (#7960520)
    Apple supports a very small select group of software and hardware.

    Truly, you've got it backward. Apple supports plenty of players [apple.com]. The manufacturers of some of those players and many others, on the other hand, don't support Apple. The upshot is that you can't do as much with those players as you can with a player that supports AAC and FairPlay.

    You can still use iTunes with your Rio or whatever, to play MP3's that you've ripped from your own CD collection. You just can't use it to play music you've purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

    This is all pretty understandable, as those manufacturers had to take a guess at which way the online music market would go. It looks like they might have got it wrong this time, but as soon as it's clear that that's the case, they'll jump to build AAC/FairPlay compatible devices. You can be sure that Creative Labs and the rest are not going to stand around looking stupid for too long while Apple and HP eat their lunch.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:53AM (#7960522)
    Here's the deal though - all of those (including the iPod) will play MP3. If you're talking protected WMA files how many of those players will work? Now consider that some of the purchased WMA fiiles will not let you play the song on ANY portable device.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:13AM (#7960594)
    The two protected formats under contention ( AAC and WMA ) are each trying to go a different way.

    WMA is all around a myriad of different choices for PRODUCERS of music to say what kind of DRM they would like protecting the file. No burning to CD's or listeing to in leap years? Got the bug to just drop a licence for anyone with an email address containing numbers? That's fine, because the user is licenceing the file.

    AAC under Apple is around letting USERS have the choice of what happens with thier music - any protected AAC file has the same level of protection, whcih is marginal and does not hamper most peoples use of music. Furthermore the protection is arranged in such a way that the USER owns the music.

    Players are supporting one philospohy or the other basically... probably closer to the truth though is that everyone assumed WMA would be the dominant format (because Microsoft never looses, right?) and decided forking over licencing money was a nessicary cost of building a player. Right now we are in the ramp-up phase where companies are swimming over to Apple's boat, they just haven't got there yet.

    Probably in the next year we'll see some dual players from people who licence AAC but have already paid the Microsoft toll.
  • by Black.Shuck (704538) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:37AM (#7960705)
    Consumers had a choice then on whether or not to use IE... but they used IE.

    Most of the time they don't even realise they have a choice. Most "consumers" I know call IE "The Internet."
  • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:43AM (#7960729) Homepage
    Sadly it isn't just her. She works for the shareholders.
    The problem with your oversimplification is that it implies a single point of blame when the blame is really with our whole capitalist system that demands shareholder value at all costs.
  • Wrong... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead (12771) <doug.opengeek@org> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:53AM (#7960774) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft is not about choice at all. You mention that you can get all kinds of devices from different vendors that all work with Windows, and you are correct in this.

    What that has done is drive the cost of hardware down for all of us, which is good. So, that seems to support your notion of choice right? Microsoft is good for us right?

    Well, I have two problems with this:

    - All of those little devices work the same way. Compute using Windows or not at all. You may think you have choice, but remember Microsoft calls the shots on all of those. They write the OS, they provide the API for developers to work with. They establish the limits.

    These things all work together to make sure you compute the way Microsoft wants you to compute. Keeping this in mind, ask yourself this question and think long and hard about the answer:

    "What incentive does Microsoft have to act in your best interests given the control they have over the industry?"

    My answer: None at all really. They have been convicted of illegal activity, our current administration is friendly to that and the pressure from Wall Street forces them to continue doing what they have been doing because it is good for the shareholders.

    - The other problem involves these other device and software makers. Sometimes one of them really hits the nail on the head. People start buying and life is good for a while. What happens when Microsoft sees that success? They get greedy and introduce their own version, or litigate, or flat out purchase it for their own.

    Once they have done this, they bastardize the tech and make sure it is nothing more than added leverage for you to continue spending in the Microsoft direction.

    Take a look at web conference software. They recently purchased Placeware. Now it is called "Microsoft Office System Web Conferencing" or something along those lines. Called to renew contract the other day. Got told the services we were using were no longer offered. That same package would cost more, unless we chose to purchase their new services package with Outlook and Office intergration...

    The result? A bit more money plus additional hassles to use and otherwise fine service, unless I accept their intergration as part of the deal?

    Choice? Sure, theirs.
  • by David Rolfe (38) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @04:21AM (#7960856) Homepage Journal
    I hate to waste a comment on this but:

    If you want to play an aac file an 'mp3 player' (term used genericly) that isn't an ipod - this is what you do:

    1. Plug in the mp3 player.
    2. Click on the song/songs you bought. click 'Advanced', then click 'Convert Selection to MP3'.
    3. Wait.
    4. Drag mp3's out of iTunes, on to mp3 player.

    In fact -- you can use these same steps to convert any format that iTunes reads into an mp3 or your non ipod mp3 player. Anyhow, the only problem is when the DRM battle has escalated to the point where there are no longer mp3 players on the market, then you will have to make a choice between camps.

  • Re:choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scheme (-32768) (678386) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @04:42AM (#7960936)
    Sounds like a perfectly reasonable, predictable and normal business tactic to me. Do you have similar feelings about McDonalds only selling Coke and not Pepsi ?

    You wanna talk drinks? Okay, let's talk drinks.

    Let's say 95% of the population were hopelessly hooked to Coke because of unknown addictive agents within it. It tastes like crap - but everybody uses it cause they're hooked. Pepsi tastes way better, but it's not a substitute because you can't get the same fix that you can from the unique taste of Coke. Also, Coke users become extremely hyper and start babbling in a language (Coke-speak) that only other Coke users can understand. Workplaces decide to standardize on Coke-speak, so you must drink Coke if you want a job and be able to communicate.

    Because Coca-Cola controls 95% of the drink market, they can raise their prices sky high and get massive profits. Let's say McDonalds objects - they are making crap margins on their "dollar ninety nine" meals already, but what can they do? Even though Coca-Cola is gouging them, McDonalds has no choice. If McDonalds doesn't sell Coke, they will lose 95% of their customers who will go to Burger King (or some other crappy fast food joint) for their Coke fix. So what does McDonalds do? They comply, of course. And other fast food joints, faced with the same dilemma, are also forced to comply to stay in business.

    Now initially, McDonalds sold Coke plus a variety of different drinks from some other companies. It did this because to provide variety and because other drinks were cheaper than Coke to resell. Coca-Cola then politely asks McDonalds to include (bundle) its entire family of drinks, such as Vanilla Coke (Office) and to exclude the other companies' drinks. "And if not?" "We will raise your price of Coke", Coca-Cola replies. "What?!" "So don't buy from us then", mocks Coca-Cola. Faced with razor thin margins now (but still manageable) vs. losing 95% of their customers, McDonalds agrees to an "offer it can't refuse".

    So then a new company comes along and creates a revolutionary new business based on designer cups (so sue me, I couldn't think of an internet browser analogy in the soft drink world). The new designer cups become really hot and take off all over the world. The new company (let's call it Netscup) becomes really successful.

    Coca-Cola sees this new industry and gets jealous. They want a piece of the action. Why not use our addictive drink to force Netscup out of business so that we can monopolize the lucrative designer cup business as well? Coca-Cola has no idea how to make cups, but they try anyway. They are a poor imitation of Netscup's products, but Coke doesn't care, as they are making billions off Coke and can afford to give away the cups for free. Even though the cups are free, people still prefer Netscups because of their superior quality and the originality factor (they were 1st).

    Coca-Cola decides it's time to get down and dirty. It contacts all the restaurants and fast food joints and offers them an ultimatum: Coke must be sold (or bundled) in Coca-Cola cups. Furthermore, Coca-Cola decides to "choke Netscup's air supply" by offering incentives (such as a cheaper price of Coke) if Netscup products are *not* sold at the locale. Pretty soon Netscup finds their revenues drying up because all the restaurants turn their backs on them. They are forced to cut prices, and are losing increasing amounts of money every day because Coca-Cola just happens to have Coke. In the meantime, Coca-Cola throws a billion dollars into developing their line of cups, and eventually the cups improve to that state where their quality and their cost (free) are more worthwhile than Netscup's still slightly superior, but more costly (not free) cups. Coca-Cola then goes for the jugular by engineering Coke and their cups so that Coke is only effective when it is served in Coca-Cola cups. Serving Coke in other cups proves to be toxic to the drinker. Coca-Cola then claims in court that Coke and the Coca-Cup are actually one product,

  • by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug AT email DOT ro> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @05:03AM (#7960995)
    And child, children.

    some people are pompous and like to pretend they are correctly applying something you don't know, so they use them anyway.

    Some other people like to be pompous and insult other people for having fun. This isn't about being pompous; it's about having fun with language.

    And this is a way that languages change and grow. You incorrectly pluralize ox as oxes, because that's familiar to you from other words in the language. Other people pluralize box as boxen, because of its similarity to ox and oxen. People generalize rules in language; from ox, oxen, comes a more general rule, *ox, *oxen. (The * in this case is the regex *.) You apply the rule that *x, *xes. (Actually, *s, *ses phonologically.) Same phenomenon, different directions.
  • by nicky_d (92174) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @05:59AM (#7961119) Homepage
    Loss is the problem. I'm happy enough with my iPod - it's great to be able to walk around with practically my entire music collection on shuffle mode, hook it up to the hi-fi, etc. etc. But I'm in the UK, so I'm not using iTMS - DRM isn't affecting me. I guess a workaround for the lossy reencoding would be to use, say, Audio Hijack to capture a bitcopy of the AAC, reecode the result with FLAC, and invest in a Rio Karma, which will play FLAC files. You should end up with a direct copy of the AAC, minus the DRM. This is all a great workout for my shift keys, by the way... The downside is that the FLAC file won't play on an iPod, and you'll probably end up with a convoluted, ad-hoc music management system. The iTunes/iPod combo works fine for me right now - and by the time it doesn't, who knows what alternatives will have appeared?
  • by sql*kitten (1359) * on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @06:09AM (#7961141)
    Microsoft keeps using that word... I do not think it means what they think it means.

    He means that with a Microsoft OS you can choose where to buy your processor, where to buy your motherboard, your video card, etc, etc. With Apple, there is just the one vendor since Apple killed off the cloners, and if you want to use the hardware, you pay whatever Apple wants to charge for it.

    Microsoft obviously believes that iPod users are locked into iTMS, and proposes a n alternative where their OS would run on a variety of hardware devices, each of which would be able to access a variety of music vendors services.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @06:46AM (#7961248)
    But iTMS runs on Windows, so it actually offers a wider variety of hardware devices than Microsoft's OS.
  • Re:NEWS FLASH! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phil Karn (14620) <{karn} {at} {ka9q.net}> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @06:55AM (#7961276) Homepage
    I don't think "bundling" per se was ever the real problem with Microsoft. If you didn't want to use IE, you could just get rid of the icon. Who cares about the files and registry settings that are left? Disk space is cheap.

    No, the real issue was and still is all about proprietary control of widely used file formats. Abusive software monopolies can't gain nearly as much traction when they have to adhere to open, accessible standards that they can't arbitrarily change to their own benefit.

    And that's exactly the issue here. iTunes may be "based on" a standard called MPEG-4, but with the addition of DRM it might as well be completely proprietary. Even without DRM, there's still the problem of the patents on MPEG-4.

    At least Apple provided an all-important escape hatch, the ability to burn unrestricted CDs. So the only real problem with iTunes is that high $0.99 price. When I do buy some tunes, I immediately burn them to an audio CD, rip it back in and re-encode it in Ogg Vorbis, my format of choice. Although I own several Macs, I have no plans to buy an iPod unless or until Apple officially supports Ogg Vorbis, a format I can already play on all of my computers with unencumbered software. Until then, I'll use the iRiver flash player I bought the day after they released Ogg support.

  • by awol (98751) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @07:19AM (#7961355) Journal

    the blame is really with our whole capitalist system that demands shareholder value at all costs

    I am sorry but that is such a crock. First of all your phrase "shareholder value" is so general as to be meaningless. Market capitalisation of listed companies is built on two ideas; dividend income from operating profitable businesses and amortised values of future earnings, largely through growth. Funnily enough both these factors are also definitions of shareholder value. Look at the PE of a banking stock compared to say a biotech stock. Capitalism is built upon a number of simple principles, one of which is risk versus return. History shows so many examples of capital investing in risky projects and generating the appropriate return when those projects succeed. The entire rail industry in the 19th century was essentially privately funded. Would "shareholder value at any cost" have been able to justify those projects?

    If there is a criticism to be levelled at shareholders today, it is the fact that they have failed to accept risk and return and in fact you could argue that it is risk averse investors that are driving the lack of forsight in the flows of capital. It is pretty tough to blame capitalism as a whole. Certainly one cannot blame Capitalisms principle of "shareholder value at all costs" since no such principle exists.

    Please note. That is not to say that Capitalism does not have problems, just that they are not the one you mention.

  • by axxackall (579006) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @07:46AM (#7961418) Homepage Journal
    Taking peoples livelyhood away

    Nobody takes your livehood from, but you. Get less lazy and more smart/effcient - and get better job.

    ... so that you can live your own pockets with a few more millions

    I guess those few millions will be used back in the economy. What's wrong with that?

    ... and pay some overseas people

    IMHO nothing wrong with that per se.

    ... a wage that will never allow them to buy all these products your company is selling.

    You're wrong here: prices for same things in developing countries are way bellow of American (or Europian) domestic ones. That makes a pressure on American and Europian importers to drop their prices too. And guess what, they drop their prices to match local product prices, as well as to match paying capabilities of a local consuming market. Of course not completely match. Some of thme drop more, some less. But even if they wouldn't drop it's ok - employees of outsourced jobs have a wage still higher than same employees of local companies. And that makes a pressure on local employers to increase a wage too.

    So, in a long term developing countries develop faster using outsourced jobs. But guess what, they deveop faster a consumer market capable to buy more staff from US and Europe. So it is a good thing.

    I advise you to stop complaining about outsourcing. It's a reality. Even without outsourcing a structure of a local job market changes drammatically every decade. If you won't adapt you will have more chances to complain about your livehood. Today you complain about outsourcing, Two decades ago about computers getting job from you. Four or five decades ago you would have complained about machibes and so on.

    Get over it. Think what you can do to adapt.

  • by mgblst (80109) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @08:31AM (#7961562) Homepage
    But surely this is the way that Capitalism must end up. Short term rewards, at the cost of long term planning.
  • Re:choice? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars.Traeger@ g o o g l e m a i l.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @08:49AM (#7961604) Journal
    For all we know, the iPod's market share may be larger than that of all WMA players combined.
  • Not exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @09:22AM (#7961755) Homepage Journal
    Apple sells a "complete solution". Hardware, OS software, multmedia apps. When you buy one, you know exactly what you're getting. And they don't have much market share.

    When you buy a dell, or any other PC (other then from penguin computing or whatever) You get Microsoft crap and you don't have a choice about it. In fact, from a VAR/OEM point of view Microsoft was the only place you could buy a consumer OS. Apple made OS's, but you couldn't buy them. There was Linux, but no one was really selling it back then. That's what the anti-trust thing was about. Microsoft abusing their position as the only company selling a consumer OS to computer makers not end consumers.
  • Re:this and that (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @09:23AM (#7961757)
    Slavery is Freedom

    Or, like the entrance gate to nazi-germany's auschwitz concentration camp said "arbeit macht frei" (work frees).

    Nazi-germany's leadership truly was visionary. It's surprising how accurately Hitler and his cohorts understood FUD, marketing, and doublespeak. Take this quote from Goering for example:

    "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

    Remind you of something?
  • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @10:00AM (#7961991) Homepage
    Oh cry me a freakin' river. What kind of car do you drive, mrkslntbob? What kind of shoes are you wearing right now? Do me a favour: look at the tag on your shirt? Where was it made? How about that computer you're typing all this on - where did all the RAM in it come from?

    None of you whining geeks cared one whit about the livelihoods of the Detroit automakers, American tailors, or consumer electronics while all THAT was shipped overseas, but now that it might actually affect YOU, it's time to take a stand and put a stop to it, right?

    Sorry, but hypocrisy is one of my hot buttons. You've benefitted from overseas outsourcing for years, with your cheap clothing, cars, and electronics. Well guess what - your job isn't so sacred either. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Get over it.
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @10:15AM (#7962085)
    Betamax WAS ONLY superior in visual quality...

    The original Betamax was only ~60-90 (I forget) minutes of recorded programming. While they had a lead, the need to fight it out in court cut down their lead in the marketplace, and they lost first mover advantage. The second mover, VHS, provided 2 hours of recorded programming. Coincidentally, 2 hours was the average/max running of movies and movies on TV at the time.

    Before the concept of time shifting TV became reality with the time-based recorder (if you have to be home to record the show, there isn't MUCH of an advantage to time shifting), VCRs were used to record movies.

    That meant that the VHS was a BETTER VCR because it could actually record the movie.

    By the time the extended Betamax came out that could record two movies, VHS had the upperhand in the market, and got economies of scale (which combined with the competition) lowered prices. VHS then got the ability to record up to 6 hours at crappy quality, but given the expense of the tapes, was likely popular (all our old tapes at home had to be trashed, because they were recorded at that quality that degraded to nothing... but I can't guess at actual use in the marketplace from my parents behavior).

    In addition, the dirty little secret of VHS was that because it was open, all the porn was in VHS. We now see porn as an easily available vice, but at the time, you choices were go to a seedy theater or VHS. The novelty of being able to watch porn at home likely pushed VHS a bit, even if nobody talked about it. This was in an era before 3 (or even 1/2) adult channels on cable + PPV, Internet porn, etc), and if adults wanted to watch dirty movies in the privacy of their own home, VHS was the only game in town.

    However, the REAL reason for VHS's early dominance was the 2 hour recording limit.

    While modern TV displays are high quality (especially 1080i/720p HDTV-ready sets), the TVs at the time were MUCH lower quality. The visual difference between VHS and Betamax when actually viewed on a television isn't the night-and-day difference that people make it out to be when using it as an arguement for worse is better [jwz.org].

    Facts on the urban legend [urbanlegends.com] surrounding Betamax, including Sony's alledged refusal to license betamax.

    Alex
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @10:46AM (#7962315)
    And all of those vendors are really supplied from the same vendor, offering the same content at the same price.

    Now, please explain to me again: Where is the choice?
  • by labratuk (204918) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:37AM (#7962729)
    Taking peoples livelyhood away

    Oh fucking no.

    Really this is just the developed world reaping bad karma for the last 4 centuries or so. The third world has continually been exploited into slavery, occupation and massive debt by the west for so long. And "Oh no, you can't give debt relief, because it's the free market, and they can work the debt off themselves by offering a product or service for a lower price: you can't intefere with the free market...".

    But as soon as this happens, it's "Oh no, you can't take our jobs away. We have to do something about this...". Isn't that intefering with the free market?

    You have to learn that it's inevitable. This is going to happen if you treat developing nations like this for so long. The west has had the rest of the world by the balls for so long (all the time telling them it's for their own good), and now as soon as it looks like they might have a chance to grab some control over their own futures, you have to go and change the rules.

    So, what's your view on debt relief? You can't have it both ways, you see.
  • by shotfeel (235240) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @11:54AM (#7962902)
    Microsoft obviously believes that iPod users are locked into iTMS

    How can they believe that? Its not like iPods don't play mp3's. Do they mean because they play industry standard AAC files instead of certain proprietary Microsoft audio format?
  • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:04PM (#7963022)

    My piecemeal machine(s) have no lock-ups whatsoever running Linux. On the other hand, when I reboot to Windows to play games, it's just a matter of (usually pretty short) time before the darn thing crashes.

    But that's the nice thing about buying your machine in pieces: you can identify the source of the problem and replace it with a working part.

  • by wornst (317182) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:44PM (#7963502)
    I am not an antitrust lawyer but it seems to me that Microsoft is setting the foundation for impending litigation if it finds itself unable to innovate itself through Apple and it's music store.

    "As most here incredibly well versed in, manufacturers are forbidden by law to compel their customers to purchase an unwanted product as a prerequisite to buying another product. (read operating systems forced upon buyers) This illegal practice is known as "tying."

    "Findlaw.com defines tying as "an arrangement or agreement in which a seller will sell a product to a buyer only if the buyer will also buy another product."

    Findlaw.com further discusses tying:

    "Sellers with more than one product may seek to tie the sale of one (which the customer presumably desires) with that of another (which it presumably does not want). Such tie-ins are governed not only by the general language of the Sherman Act, but the more particular provisions of Section 3 of the Clayton Act, which prohibits such arrangements if the likely result is substantially to lessen competition. Tie-ins are per se unlawful if the seller possesses sufficient market power in the tying product, and coerces the buyer to take the tied product as a condition to obtaining the desired product.
    (Walt Pennington - desktoplinux.com)

    It seems a logical step to say that Microsoft will argue that Apple is tying the sale of it's music (which microsoft will argue is the desired product) with that of its music player (which, Redmond will - perhaps tongue in cheek in front of consumers who LOVE their iPods - say is the unwanted product.)

    I think it is an interesting possible move, if one that may be bad for the industry. I think that people should be able to use the players they want for the music they OWN - imagine only being able to use a sony compact disc player for sony signed artists - but the pay to download music infrastructure just isn't ready at this point in time for fracturization. Apple isn't making any money on the music, just the players. Until money can viably be made, pay to download music services will be close to a precipice that can only be avoided by at first solidifying and standardizing the content and the distribution method.
  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @12:57PM (#7963633) Homepage
    No.

    You're talking about ACTUAL shareholder value.

    Not PERCEIVED shareholder value. Which is what wins out in this market. When shareholders PERCEIVE that a company's shares are worth more than they really are - which happens quite often, then the officers make out like bandits as joe-average-investor jizzes all over the phone as he tries to get ahold of his broker.

    So which do you think the officers are more likely to pursue?
    Sound business practices that yeild actual results?
    Or hype and blather to get joe-average-investor all worked up about the latest tip?

    Until some of these bastards start going to jail for fraud, nothing's going to change. (and even then, perhaps nothing will change - since we've had our war on drugs now for, what, two decades? And people still risk prison to smoke a joint?)

    It's not capitalism, per se, that's wrong here. It's our implementation of it. And the fact that humans are all basically evil. Your Econ 101 textbook explanation of Capitalism betrays a serious lack of the true reality of things.

  • Overall Responses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcaulton (621302) on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @02:48PM (#7964636)
    I've read through this thread and have some overall responses and see some common misperceptions. First, Fester's comments are not about AAC or the iTunes app - they were about the Store, iPod, and iTunes in combination. Second, Fester is right that music purchased from iTunesMS can only be played in an iPod and iTunes because apple wraps AAC up in a proprietary and unlicensable DRM. Once you wrap a 'standard' codec up in such DRM, it's no longer a standard from the all-important interperability standpoint. third, WMA and WMDRM are freely licensable to ANY music store, device vendor, or software developer to use as they see fit on ANY platform. That's why both are supported in multiple vendor devices (Creative Labs, Rio, etc...), software tools (Adobe, Real, Musicmatch, Winamp), and music stores (Napster, Musicmatch, BestBuy). You may be opposed to WMA for other reasons, but it currently comes closest to replicating the world users currently enjoy, where CDs from any store can be played in CD players from any vendor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2004 @03:42PM (#7965093)
    Can someone please explain why MS thinks choice in portable players is good and choice of download services is good, but choice of file formats isn't good?

    Seems to me they were so busy protecting the consumers' right to choose that they forgot their OEMs (like H-P) might like a little choice too!

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