Microsoft….does the right thing?!?!

Microsoft introduced a point system for purchases when they introduced the xbox (or 360? I forget when it began), a system that was mostly reviled by gamers. They announced over a year ago that they were ending that system in favor of straight cash purchases for their online stores, just like most everyone else uses (ie Amazon, Apple, Google Play, etc).

Both Sony and Microsoft sell debit cards at retail for making purchases in their online stores, so kids without credit cards can buy games online. Retailers periodically run specials on those cards, especially around the holidays, so you can get $50 for $40 or whatever.

Several Christmases ago, I stocked up on these cards when Target ran a $50 for $30 sale or something along those lines. I added those credits to my respective accounts, and then my Xbox 360 promptly died. My $50 of Microsoft credit has been sitting in limbo ever since, as I had no plans to replace the 360. Imagine me shaking my fist in irritation at Microsoft. Then imagine me bemused to receive an email from Microsoft letting me know that my points have been converted back to actual cash $$$ – I’m now sitting on $49.15 in credit for Microsoft’s stores. Bully for them for doing the right thing and me for getting my funds back.

Next, imagine me shaking my fist in mild irritation again when I discover I can only spend these funds in the Windows 8 and Windows Mobile stores, which I do no business with.   :-/

Another example of why you should never buy DRM content

Digital Rights Management is such a crock. In today’s example of why you should never, ever ‘license’ DRM’d content, check out what’s happened to the customers of Microsoft’s MSN Music business. Microsoft is turning off the lights on the service and ceasing support for the infrastructure which provides the ‘keys’ which allow you to move your content from machine to machine. You can burn CD’s to rescue the content off the hardware (while reducing the quality), so you won’t permanently lose access to it so long as you take that step and accept the quality trade off, but you should never have had to do that in the first place. As I’ve warned before, stay away from services licensing DRM’d content. Emusic, Amazon, and others now offer unencumbered mp3 files at higher bit rates than Apple and the other DRM-encumbered music merchants. iTunes may be convenient but it’s supporting an untenable business model. To those who would say say Apple would never pull a similar move, companies don’t get much larger than Microsoft, and they just did it. Vote with your wallet folks.