Are you saying Apple’s customers are thieves, Mr Ballmer?

Sunny Steve Ballmer hopped over on Sunday, an opportunity that left me happy to cut the lawn for the last time this year (one hopes) and have a pleasant day at home. Others though went to hear him hold forth on how digital devices for the living room are at ‘tipping point’ – a statement I don’t find remotely true. The tipping point will come when many, many more have PVRs, which they’ll get separately, and then want to wire them to their computer, which will be in a different room.

But the quote I found remarkable was this, from ZDNet’s report: Microsoft’s chief executive clearly wants to position Microsoft as the good guy in the market, and was at pains to try and position Apple as soft on the principles behind DRM.

“We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’.

Excuse me?? What an incredibly insulting thing to say about (a) a rival (b) potential customers. “You’re all thieves! And you use junk!” That’s sure to get them piling in, Steve.

Here’s the rest of his quote: “Part of the reason people steal music is money, but some of it is that the DRM stuff out there has not been that easy to use. We are going to continue to improve our DRM, to make it harder to crack, and easier, easier, easier, easier, to use.”

Quite apart from the fact that the ‘better’ your DRM is, the harder it is to use (by definition), I’d love to know how many people have found themselves locked out of their WMA-fformatted music collection, or their Windows XP installation, after an OS or part re-install.

And I’d *really* love to see some sales figures for Media Center PCs. Hey, we could compare them wiht iPod sales.


  1. Why are you surprised? It is just in a long line of Microsoft truths.

    – Microsoft develops hetrogenous: just so long as they are a 32bit flavour of windows

    – Open Source is theft and Windoes is cheaper: ok

    – Companies need to respect Microsoft’s IP: like Microsoft respected Burst Networks, Stack, Digital Research, Xerox, Apple, Sun and Sendo

    – Microsoft innovates: in the courtroom with its team of expensive lawyers.

  2. And Sony has just given up on copy protection on CDs….


  3. At least, MS hasn’t been convicted of illegally manipulating the marketplace – oh wait, they have … well, only in Japan, Europe and the US …

    At least, mac users are legal thieves according to the RIAA – wait, only PC users …

    At least, it’s not like virtually all p2p software has been created on PC’s … whoops, that looks to be true also.

    as a mac & ipod user, I may be a casual thief but at least I’m not all mobbed-up like MS.

  4. It’s nice to see MS squirm in public. Slowly the reality of their position in the marketplace is now in their face. They are now finding that the innovative pace being set by Apple can not be copied fast enough. Now that OS X innovation is rapidly leaving XP in the dust (with Tiger still to come)they will be so busy just trying to match features to meet Longhorn’s 2006 release schedule when they will get blindsided by Lion in late 2006 which will move the bar even higher.

    This is just OS X, what about iTunes, iPods and the music store.

    How about software of all sorts Motion, FCP, Filemaker, iLife, GarageBand, etc and the pace accelerating.

    Then the iMovie store and Quicktime and on it goes. I would rant also if I was in MS position.

    Ain’t it great!!!!!

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