Microsoft, that great teacher, has just taught another lesson about the foolishness of buying media from DRM-locked or server-dependent digital platforms reliant upon the good grace of a single business. Ars Technica reports that Microsoft is closing down its Xbox Fitness program—a workout program that was going to use the Xbox’s Kinect motion sensor to track how users exercised to make sure they were keeping to proper form.
The Xbox Live Gold program provided 30 free basic exercise routines, but that benefit ends on December 15. More importantly, customers who bought access to potentially costly specialized videos for use with the program will lose access to those altogether as of July 1, 2017. Some people will be out hundreds of dollars from video purchases.
No plans for refunds have been announced, but plenty of Xbox users are upset that Microsoft is yanking the rug out from under them and depriving them of the use of content they have paid for. “I honestly wish we were able to buy programs today,” said one Reddit user, echoing Joanna’s complaint from her post about Evernote.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has pulled this, of course. It shut down its MSN Music DRM service in 2008, and its Zune Music Pass service in 2015. You’d think people would have learned by now not to trust any digital media that Microsoft was selling, because it would kill it off sooner or later once the expense of running the DRM servers and other necessary infrastructure outpaced the money it was making from selling the stuff. But just in case, here’s another lesson.
You can buy digital stuff, but you don’t actually “own” it. So, if you buy works in any DRM-locked or server-dependent digital medium—be it audio, video, text, or whatever—you should be prepared to lose it sooner or later, if you can’t figure out some way to back it up outside the limitations of that system. (But if you live in the USA, good luck with that—it’s illegal here even to tell people how it could be done.)
Image credit Brendan Mruk/Matt Lee, used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.