Did you buy books from Microsofts eBook store, well now you can’t read them anymore.
Actually, I wasn’t aware that Microsoft had an eBook store, though this is not surprising as many of the tech companies have been diversifying in the past to try and move into content, and lock you into their platforms.
This is the Microsoft announcement:
Starting April 2, 2019, the books category in Microsoft Store will be closing. Unfortunately, this means that starting July 2019 your ebooks will no longer be available to read, but you’ll get a full refund for all book purchases. See below for details.
While you can no longer purchase or acquire additional books from the Microsoft Store, you can continue to read your books until July 2019 when refunds will be processed.
Imagine that the books you have on your bookshelf had locks over the cover and now the keys are going to self destruct so you can’t open them again. That is what DRM (Digital Rights Management) is doing.
Officially, DRM is there to protect rights holders and prevent unauthorised copying. Although in most cases media protected this way is readily available for those who know what to look for (I don’t endorse this and do buy my media, though I’ve learnt get the physical thing or look for DRM free stores). The implementation however often leads to lock in to the specific technology and platform, since times and technology change, as do business needs. The servers that provide the DRM services cost money to maintain, and if that becomes too much of a cost or the company goes out of business, then they just get switched off. With the move to digital download media, we really rent our books, movies etc. Not own them. As the Wired story that brought this to wider attentions states:
At least Microsoft can afford to pay off its impacted customers. The next time a platform folds—and takes its ecosystem with it—those affected might not be so lucky. Which is maybe the real lesson of Microsoft obliterating its ebooks: This has all happened before, and not nearly enough is being done to stop it from happening again.
This extends also to other services that are meant to provide interoperability. Ultraviolet, a service that allowed store bought disks to also include a digital copy through download codes, and move media between platforms is also shutting down.
Sadly, it looks like DRM is here to stay, despite some hope that it might go away, when Steve Jobs posted his thoughts on Music and iTunes music (and music only) went DRM free. This is mostly as we are moving to a more streaming media world with the likes of Spotify and Netflix. At least with these services there is honesty that its a rental service and no sense of ownership. I don’t really mind that, although I don’t use those services myself as I prefer to own. There are however campaign groups that are doing their best to highlight the damage, such as Defective by Design.
Featured image by ActuaLitté