The Chicago Tribune’s Coates on Zunes and catbird seats

The Chicago Tribune’s James Coates takes “a look at [his] last week’s column about Microsoft’s new Zune music and movie store and associated player. It gave a confused description of what will go into that great Wiki in the Sky as the day Mighty Microsoft corrupted a once-praised program called ‘Plays for Sure.’ Plays for Suckers would be more accurate.”

“I waxed poetically about Zune last week largely because it is based on Microsoft’s extremely well-protected Windows Media Video software. WMV was supposed to be a universal way for hardware companies as well as record- and movie-makers to be sure that the users of various mobile players could smoothly use duly licensed songs and shows,” Coates reports.

“The idea behind WMV was that Microsoft would vigilantly protect against efforts to crack WMV’s digital rights management, thus freeing individual movie studios and record companies from the need to produce their own copyright protection,” Coates reports. “Stickers were plastered on players and Web sites endorsed by Microsoft as safe and legal under the Plays for Sure program.”

“Zune, boasted Microsoft, was based on WMV technology for universal protection standards. What it didn’t say at the time, except in the 4th footnote to the product description, was that files bought in Microsoft’s coming Zune store would not work with other copy-protected WMV files even when the owner had a Plays for Sure license,” Coates reports.

“In one fell swoop the company made a mockery of Plays for Sure promises. For example, the exciting new deal to distribute feature-length music and movies from a half-dozen major Hollywood studios and about 30 cable television channels as duly licensed WMVs would not play on Microsoft’s Zune. Plays for Suckers files will only play on all of the other mobile players that Zune will compete against in a marketplace overshadowed by Apple’s iPod,” Coates reports. “I repeatedly asked Microsoft’s representatives to address the ethics of this about-face, but they refused to talk about it.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “obvious” for the heads up.]
We (MDN and MDN readers) should all take credit for this about-face, even if Coates is unable and/or unwilling to give it or to apologize to his readers properly (please see related article below).

As for Coates’ line about “Microsoft’s extremely well-protected Windows Media Video software,” perhaps he should try much harder or just retire now, as he routinely makes glaring mistakes (please see additional related articles).

Related article:
The Chicago Tribune’s Coates: ‘Zune owns the catbird seat thanks to’ – September 17, 2006
Microsoft working to update Windows Media DRM cracked by FairUse4WM – August 29, 2006
Microsoft’s PlaysForSure cracked: FairUse4WM strips Windows Media DRM – August 25, 2006


  1. What a plonker!!!

    He calls Widgets, Widgets… but really means Gadgets. Confused?

    How can he be in denial that Vista is nothing but a clone of OS X (from day 1) & not OS X 10.4

    This makes me angry.
    People see what they want to see.
    But here you have a chump telling people what he thinks they should see!

  2. LOL OzzysCross trust me, as a windows user you dont want that free weather indicator that brings pop ups everytime you look on a web page that has even the simplest words like “The”

    relevent content my ass


  3. This article says a lot about the author. Bizzaro claimed he was “an MS monkeyboy”, well … it appears it just isn’t so. True, he passed along MS press releases without adequate fact-checking, but he came clean once the truth became known. And NOT “on Page 6, below the fold”. Nor did he make any excuses for MS, he came right out and attacked them – “Plays for Suckers” is not the sort of thing a butt-lick would say.

    So … call him gullible, or even credulous, but go a bit easier on his ethics. Hmm, question is … would you/he rather be known as an ethical dupe or smart scam artist?

  4. OzzysCross101:

    Too bad it doesn’t work on a Mac. But then again, the spyfware that comes with it doesn’t work on a Mac either!

    And while I’m sure you were in jest, just a reminder to every Mac OS X Tiger user, there are more weather widgets for Dashboard than you could ever need.

  5. I think you guys at MDN are kinda foolish.
    I send you a link when the Sony mylo Personal Communicator comes out. And you say this is not news and it won’t be popular. This thing will contend with the ipod down the line. and you guys don’t have the wisdom to see it. I think you should check out the features and realize that the iPod will have these features soon enough. Sony will also add to the mylo’s feature set. The Mylo is currently 18th on the amazon top sellers list and is getting very popular.

    Have a look before you shut people down.
    I’m all for Apple. Having been an apple user since 1984. I’m a stock owner, so naturally i look around for stuff that would counter apple’s products.

    Check it out.

  6. Yes, haha it was a joke. Naturally, I have my weather widget in Dashboard always there when I need it.

    I remember a friend of mine downloading this. When I was on his computer, it was popping up for no apparent reason- and had nothing about weather on it either! He says alot of things on his PC did that anyway, one more thing shouldn’t hurt. I felt bad for him though.

    MW: Hmm, wonder what the weather’s like outside? ||Hits F12||. Ah, partly cloudy, 77º. I’m going outside now.

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