updated 12:30 pm EDT, Thu September 21, 2006
WMP 11 Imposes DRM Limits
Microsoft has in the past touted the choice of stores that use the Windows Media music format, which is not tied to any particular service. Buyers unhappy with the usage rights at one store could choose another without switching programs or portable music players. However, an updated set of release notes for Windows Media Player 11, the next iteration of Microsoft's jukebox designed for both Windows XP and Vista, reveals that the company is quickly reducing the usage rights for copy-protected Windows Media files. The document states that users of the new version can no longer backup the rights data that permits playback of purchased songs and videos - effectively preventing purchasers from legitimately copying DRM-protected music to other computers unless they receive permission to download new licenses for each computer every time content is bought. Problems also arise if users copy-protect their own media: if license rights are lost, users will have only a limited number of opportunities to restore their usage rights through the Internet even if the music was transferred from a CD. Microsoft's use of independent license files contrasts sharply against Apple's, whose iTunes Store embeds licenses in the files themselves and requires only that users authorize a particular computer once to play songs or videos for a given account, regardless of how the file was transferred to the computer.