Microsoft studying online music rental system

“We rent homes. We rent cars. We rent movies. Why not rent music? It might be a very good deal. We now have more options than ever for buying music – we can purchase CDs from Web sites and stores and download music from online services,” Maureen Ryan reports for The Chicago Tribune.

Ryan reports, “All that is now fairly routine for many entertainment consumers: You go to a site such as Apple’s iTunes store or the new Napster and pay around 99 cents for an individual song, which you can store and play on your computer, or burn to a CD and transfer to a portable music device a certain number of times.”

“Some legal download services such as Rhapsody or Napster let you buy a subscription for about $10-$15 a month so you can download and listen to thousands of songs on your computer. The catch is, you generally can’t transfer those songs to a music player or put them on a CD unless you pay an additional $1 per track,” Ryan reports. “So, what if you could pay a flat monthly fee to download as many songs as you want and transfer them to your music player – but they’d only be playable for a certain length of time?”

Ryan reports, “Before you dismiss the concept out of hand, consider this: Microsoft is exploring it.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Consider this, Microsoft is exploring it.” Big flippin’ deal, Maureen. Unlike the Joe and Jane Six Packs of the world we don’t believe Microsoft can do no wrong. In fact, about all it seems to be able to do without help is wrong. The last thing Microsoft dreamt up on their own? Microsoft Bob


  1. 1) We rent homes because they cost a lot more than a buck
    2) We rent cars usually at locations that are too far to take the car we OWN
    3) We rent movies because we usually only want to see them once. If we like them enough to watch over and over again we usually buy them.

    Music is something you want to own and be able to keep. I like listening to songs I liked in high school just as much now as I did then and I don’t mind listening to a song I like once a month or even once a week. Over and over again. I don’t want to pay over and over again to listen to it and if you do Maureen, you really are one of those who deserve to be on windows.

    Microsoft is so slimy in its business practices and has used these slimy practices to gain such dominance that I am automatically suspect of anything they come out with because it can almost be guaranteed to be a second rate experience that I will have to pay too much for somehow. Leave it to M$ slimy business practices to figure out how.

    Right now I know one way that M$ is taking money out of my pocket is by overcharging for an inferior product ridden with security holes that unfair slimy business practices have resulted in being on a majority of Business computers. These security holes result in expanded business costs that are passed on to us the consumers. We just are not paying the money directly to M$ so we don’t notice.

  2. nice breakdown Jack A…

    of course.. maureen couldn’t be bothered to even think of why rental works for some things and not for others…

    renting music is silly..when.. we… already.. have.. radio..

    i know i know..

    i’ve asked friends who have all said.. what’s the point? I have free local radio station that plays all the rock i like… if i’m gonna pay for something, i wanna own it…

  3. last post
    In the Europe people buys music to their Nokia mobile telephones worth of over 1.1 billion �uros. They do not rent it they buy it in AAC format.
    Nobody want�s to rent music especially when they know that it disapears if you miss one months payment.

  4. I have a question: Is there any place in the ‘real world’ (like Tower Records, etc) that you can actually RENT music?? I know you can borrow CD’s at some libraries, but I’m not counting that. If this model doesn’t work in the physical world, why does Microsoft think (I know, it’s an oxymoron) it will work in the virtual world.

  5. The writer also said: “We’re already trained to rent movies, and in the long run, video could present an even better use for Janus, which may be Microsoft’s real goal”

    Video rentals through broadband connections?

  6. They have stores where you can rent CDs in Japan. I have never used it myself but from what I understand the CDs are rented and then the music is copied to either a cassette or computer usually. So you do end up owning it in the end.

  7. I’m not so sure why people are immediately clamoring to call this all bogus. If Apple were doing it, I’m sure people would jump on the idea of it being “innovative” considering the fact that nobody else has done it and that it doesn’t exist in the real world in America at least (as others have pointed out above).

    Personally, I think the idea does have some merit. Ask yourself how much money you spent each month on CD’s. Let’s say you buy three CD’s off iTunes each month for a little under $30. So in other words, you basically spend $30 a month for three albums.

    What if instead you paid a one time fee of $25, had unlimited downloading, and could do anything with the music that you wished to (burn to CD, put on portable music player, etc.), etc.?

    In this case, it’s actually cheaper to use the subscription based rental service. On technicality, you wouldn’t “own” your music, but it would function exactly the same as the owned iTMS music, and yet you could DOWNLOAD MORE WITHOUT PAYING MORE!

    Personally, if I could download 8 CD’s for the price of 3 each month and do the same thing I do with it as I do now (listen on my computer, put on my iPod, and burn to CD), I don’t care whether I “own” or “rent” it. How would I know the difference?

  8. Russell you are right if you COULD “do the same thing I do with it as I do now” it would be great. But you will not be able to. And you can mark my words on that.

  9. Hi, I’m Clippy, your new Windows personal assistant!

    Microsoft Bob has been discontinued, nobody liked him.

    By the way it’s seems you are a bit constipated, would you like me to perform a enema?

    I think we are going to be enjoying each other for quite some time.

    Ain’t Microsoft life grand?

  10. Russell:

    Firstly, I may be wrong, but I do not think that you can burn rented music. Once you burn it it’s yours till you die and is no longer “rented”.

    Secondly, and if the first point is true, access to tunes will be solely determined by MS. You may find that the convenience of access to tunes stored on your own hard drive, CD, or DVD is worth the price of purchase.

    Thirdly, it has been reported that Apple makes 1 to 2 cents off each 99-cent song. How is it possible that MS could make any profit by renting music at less than 99 cents per tune unless MS were to restrict the number of tunes per month? I do not know if the economics of renting music is feasible unless the ultimate intention is to (i) eliminate all other competitors or (ii) restrict consumer access.

    Fourthly, be prepared for varying subscription costs. The basic fee of $25 may only apply to some music and/or to some limited number of tunes. If you want more tunes or more variety you may have to pay more to get them. If the cost of access increases beyond your comfort level you may forfeit all your rented tunes. However, if point one is not true, you can quit the serviced and keep whatever tunes you have. This would place the burden on MS to keep subscription rate low and would be a good thing for consumers. Question is, what has MS done in the past that has convinced you that consumer interest, veracity, and reliability are major focuses of their business philosophy?

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