Microsoft's Music Moves
Tuesday February 13, 2007
Speculation is rife that Microsoft is about to launch a new offensive against Apple's domination of online music sales and portable music devices - and head off the much-heralded iPhone.Dow Jones MarketWatch reports Microsoft has filed a patent for a prototype wireless device that could be used to talk over the Internet. Online pundits believe this will be incorporated in a phone version of the Zune - Microsoft's challenge to the iPod.A source close to Microsoft tells Next the software giant is also involved in an imminent "massive announcement" on digital rights management. "A lot of (online music) retailers are pushing the record companies very hard to release the restrictions on DRM," the source said."If you are BigPond or Sanity you are selling Windows media files and you have a big problem. People who buy content with you can't put it onto their iPods."An announcement loosening the ties on DRM could come as early as today at the 3GSM mobile technology expo in Barcelona, the source said. The announcement may be linked to a report last Friday in The Wall Street Journal that EMI was talking to iTunes' competitors about selling its entire digital music catalogue in MP3 format without copy protection.DRM is used by the music industry to control music piracy by preventing music files being copied. But the side effect is to tie music buyers to particular hardware or software.