Everyone wants a piece of the direct-download pie. With apologies to our gaming columnist for inching onto his beat just a tad, I think that some intrepid gamer - or, better, an intrepid gamer-businessman - needs to put his finger in the swelling dike of direct download services before it bursts all over the Web and ruins us all.
Dramatic? Perhaps. The description is no less dramatic than my growing frustration at the inability to manage my downloads, multiplayer experience, and cash across the many platforms that exist on the modern-day "Gamer's Internet." In a perfect world, the various game publishers would band together and come up with a common solution-a universal iTunes, if you will-by which all could contribute core content, extras, add-ons, and share the costs of bandwidth, UI development, and communal matchmaking.
Microsoft has decided to yank its Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool from its Website following allegations that the utility makes improper use of open source code, CNet reports.
"Microsoft is looking into this issue and is taking down the [Windows 7 updating] tool from the Microsoft Store site until its review is complete," the company said in a statement. "We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."
That's bad new for existing netbook owners and anyone else without an optical drive and hoping to upgrade to Windows 7. Before it was taken down, the tool made it possible to take a downloadable copy of the OS and create a bootable drive.
But according to Rafael Rivera of the "Within Windows" blog, the tool may violoate several GPL terms and conditions. Rivera says the source code was "obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GLLv2-licensed ImageMaster project" without the author's knowledge. He also contends that Microsoft neglected to provide source code for their modifications to ImageMaster or their tool.
Microsoft will allow them to download the final build of Windows 7 Ultimate along with a key, beginning August 6, 2009. Those eligible can also opt for a boxed copy, however, such boxed copies are said to be limited in number. The complimentary boxed copies will become available after October 22, 2009.
DRM protection has been a bone of contention between content owners and anti-DRM activists. The latter party’s contentions seem to be becoming quite popular with content providers, with many music download services, including the august iTunes, opting for DRM-free music. However, DRM hasn’t been eliminated as a lot of downloadable content, including streaming/downloadable videos and streaming music, is still fettered by DRM protection.
“We reject the view that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so,” he wrote in a missive addressed to the Copyright Office’s top legal advisor.
It is quite unrealistic to expect online stores to perpetually maintain their DRM servers. But it is ludicrous to assume that shutting down of an authentication server or the whole online store is reason enough for the user to surrender his ownership rights.
For those of you still enjoying the Windows 7 beta (build 7000), know that your free time is coming to a close.
On July 1, 2009, those of you still running the beta will be told to install a released version of Windows, followed by your PC shutting down automatically every two hours. If on August 1, 2009 you’re still on the beta, your license will expire and the non-genuine lifestyle will be at your doorstep. That means you’ll lose your wallpaper and “This copy of Windows is not genuine” will be displayed in the lower right hand corner above the taskbar (the fiends!).
However, if you’ve already moved onto build 7100 (as I’m sure many of you already have), you’ll be in good shape until March 1, 2010. If you haven’t though, make sure to get it soon – downloads will be halted on August 15, 2009.
Through a partnership with Universal, Virgin Media said it plans to launch an unlimited music download subscription service. The well timed announcement comes just one day before a British report hits the public eye detailing how the creative and telecom industries should go about bumping up digital sales to cope with lost revenue due to online piracy.
"We listened to our customers, our fans, and our artists and we think that this is an opportunity to bring music to a wider audience," said Lucian Grainge, Universal Music chairman and CEO.
According to Reuters, people familiar with the service said it would cost around $16 to $24 per month. Both sides are describing the service as a world first, which would allow Virgin Media broadband customers to both listen to streaming tracks and download however many tracks and albums they want.
Unlike other unlimited subscription services, the downloadable MP3s won't come with any DRM shackles, which means the tracks can be transferred to and played from any MP3-capable device.
"This is really high stakes, if this can't work then what will," commented Mark Mulligan, an analyst with Jupiter.
Call it a gimmick, call it what you want, but it looks like Microsoft is doing some good by helping out those in need via their Internet Explorer 8 advertising.
Along side their Dean Cain commercials that went live earlier this month, they’ll be donating the equivalent of eight meals to the Feeding America Network for each completed download of Internet Explorer 8.
Make sure that you download soon though; this promotion will only run from June 10th to August 8th. So, if you’re not downloading IE8 for yourself, download it for those in need! You’ll feel better tonight knowing you did.
FileFront, which is currently in its tenth year of service to the online gaming community, will be closing its doors for good at the end of March.
“We regret to inform you that due to the current economic conditions we are forced to indefinitely suspend the FileFront site operations on March 30, 2009,” said the site in a goodbye statement. “If you have uploaded files, images or posted blogs, or if you would like to download some of your favorite files, please take this opportunity to download them before March 30th when the site will be suspended.”
This is a huge loss for anyone that’s enjoyed the site’s services for either downloading patches, movies, or sharing files of their own. “We would like to give a warm thank you to all of you who have been part of the FileFront communities we have built together. Your support has had a meaningful impact for all of us here at FileFront,” the statement continued. “Keep gaming alive.”
Downloading Youtube videos has been a piece of cake for quite sometime now, though Youtube never expressly gave its assent to downloading until last month, when it made it possible for users to download videos from Barack Obama’s Youtube channel. As it turns out now, the company was just testing waters by allowing Obama’s videos to be downloaded.
Now, the video sharing website has formally approved downloading. Not all videos will be free to download, however, as users will have to pay a fee to download some of the videos. Youtube is testing an option that will let video publishers make their content available offline for free or for a price they deem fit. All payments will be processed by Youtube’s cognate company Google Checkout.
It is strange that Youtube expects users will actually be interested in paying for videos when they can be download for free through the large number of online tools available for that purpose.
There are numerous websites that allow you to download Youtube videos – and videos hosted on other sites – directly to your desktop. All of them have capitalized on the lack of a downloading feature on Youtube. However, they might just have to conceive a superb contingency plan as Youtube has jeopardized their very existence by inaugurating an indigenous download feature.
The feature is currently only available on President Obama’s Youtube channel as Google appears to be testing waters. You can check it out at this link.