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iPhone, DRM and Zune: the future according to Microsoft

iPhone, Zune phone, Drm. A little bit of everything about digital life. Here is the content of an interview released by Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices section at CNET. A very interesting interview because it touches Apple's strategies very closely, starting with Cupertino's revolutionary mobile phone which, according to Batch, is not so revolutionary

For Bach, in particular, the $ 500 price of the iPhone represents an attractive entry threshold for many Apple fans and also, more generally, for early adopters, that is, those people willing to spend to get their hands on the latest technological news. The clarification of the Microsoft executive concerns the price of 500 dollars combined with the subscription cost for two years to the mobile telephone service, a total expense that clearly and distinctly positions the first mobile phone branded Mela.

A second highly relevant reflection by Bach concerns the different strategy of Microsoft compared to Apple for mobile devices. MS tries to combine the activities and operations carried out in the workplace with those that are multimedia and typical of free time, in practice trying to blend the digital life style with the needs and demands of the job. Instead, according to Bach's point of view, Apple is more focused on lifestyle, a choice that aims at a specific market segment but, again according to MS, the bulk of this sector represented by people who want a terminal suitable for both work and for leisure.

Touch screen, solution not solutionDo not miss the question, which seems "called" directly by some reflections on Bill Gates, on the lack of "physical" keys, a trend that started from the iPhone also emerged in the LG Prada mobile phone and then in other phones. Is this the end of a form factor that has lasted for years? Bach's obvious answer no: the reasonable question in this regard if and when sensitive screens or hardware buttons represent a better approach. Windows Mobile has been present in touch screen devices for three or four years now, but depending on what you want to do with the phone, some are better than the others. For example, entering texts is less easy via the screen and many people still prefer the tactile feeling offered by traditional keys. ?If you intend to use the phone for video playback – says Batch – having an interface that always requires fingers on the screen may not be the best solution. The choice between keys and touch screen not completed, this is an open question and in the meantime MS and Windows Mobile will exploit and integrate both solutions "

Microsoft friend of DrmThe reporter obviously does not miss the opportunity to ask the Microsoft executive for a comment on the open letter from Steve Jobs, on the future of digital music and above all on the possible end of DRM. ?The job of MS – says the manager of Redmond – is to provide the tools and technology required directly by the partner operators and also by the partner companies that deal with media and content. As long as companies and consumers ask Drm MS to do everything possible to implement them and make them operational in the best possible way "As Bach proceeds in his response, a rather decisive point of view about the fate of DRM emerges from his words:" The only people who ultimately have a say in DRM are the same people who own the content. Microsoft believes very much and always believes in the protection of intellectual property. So you will see Microsoft continue to do great things about DRM, because we are convinced that they will be part of the future scenario. "

Windows Mobile 6, the future of smart phonesThe presentation of a new version of Windows dedicated to pocket devices represents a further investment for Microsoft in a sector in which it had initially started at a disadvantage and where it was able to recover important positions with the passage of time. Starting from a limited number of terminals and with a version of Windows with limited telephone functions and not very well functioning, MS today manages a customer portfolio of almost 50 operators and 150 devices. So an interesting and fast growing market. As for video games, Bach believes that ?pocket devices will be the suitable platform for fast-paced games designed for casual gamers, not for titles that require hours and hours of gameplay with complex textures. The challenge according to the MS executive lies in correctly identifying the business model: will the games work with a fixed subscription, a download payment or even on a more recent advertising-based model? There is still no clear answer, moreover the challenge in the world of pocket devices is even more difficult because the more complex ecosystem, for example PC games "

Bach continues to believe that people will continue to show canned software, preferring this traditional method to novelties such as purchase with download or sponsored use with banners, which maybe will support over time. In the near future, Microsoft will increasingly use sponsorship of software with integrated advertising, this for all existing platforms and making this model possible for other companies as well: it will not be a policy or a choice exclusively by Microsoft.

Zune future phone far awayThe latest questions from the CNET reporter concern Zune and the rumors that Microsoft is integrating telephone functionality into the MP3 player, rumors that have become more and more popular since the presentation of the Apple iPhone.

Bach immediately points out that despite the amount of questions about a possible Zune Phone future, the Zune team has worked and is working hard to get Zune to do the tasks it was designed for: playing and managing music. Here where MS is focusing its efforts on Zune. ?Microsoft – says Batch – is working a lot with its partners who want to create their own music services. In addition, MS will always invest heavily in proprietary audio and video codecs, in DRM technologies that guarantee the functioning of this type of products "

To an even more precise question about possible telephone functions integrated in future versions of Zune, Bach still denies firmly, stating that this is not in the interests of MS and not even a possible integration of the Zune functions in partner devices with Windows Mobile. All MS's commitments for the future of Zune concern the improvement and expansion of what has already been done with Zune. [By L. M. Grandi]