A history lesson: How we almost lost Ogg Vorbis support on all MP3 players

Until today (where I stumbled over an article describing the problem) I was never aware of the fact that we almost lost support for Ogg Vorbis on all MP3 players. And that would have been a pity, because quite a lot of my music is stored as Ogg Vorbis – and yes, my portable player, the IAudio U2 plays Ogg Vorbis!

So, what happened almost? Back in 2005 Microsoft introduced the new Windows Media DRM, codename Janus. It was brand new and was supposed to be used together with Windows Media Player 10. And since all hardware device manufactures out there needed to support this (hello, monopoly) Microsoft had the idea to write into the Janus licence that only these devices will be allowed to use Janus that do not support any other format (probably except MP3).
That means no Ogg Vorbis whatsoever, maybe only by (illegal) firmware upgrade.

Fortunately, there is still something left from the antitrust lawsuit in the US, and in October 2005 judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly made pretty clear that this is not allowed. So today nothing of this is left, and you actually do not find much about that topic around.
Btw., Microsoft said the reason that this could happen was that lower-level business person, ignorant of the anti-trust settlement’s provisions, had blundered (quote from article, not MS).

Ok, the crisis is no over, but the bad feeling is left:
First of all the excuse is ridiculous. Either MS does a bad job on informing its staff about hot topics and also has quite ignorant staff – or MS tried once again to expand its monopoly in illegal ways being completely aware of its actions.
Second, it is yet again another example of how far Microsoft can go with only a nice judge sitting between MS and the rest. There is no guarantee that we will have as much luck next time. None at all.
And although I do not know if Microsoft will try to do such things again in the future, there is, at the moment, only one thing I can predict if I’m looking at the past…

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