Microsoft ebooks service reaches a dead end

Microsoft ebooks service
Microsoft Ebook Store

Microsoft announces the closure of its ebooks services as it is losing access to its libraries. Launched in 2017, the ebook service by Microsoft was dependent on Microsoft’s online store and web browser, however the project had no success in gaining a substantial audience. As a consequence, the titles purchased or offered for free on the online platform will no longer be available to the users.

According to reports, the company will, however, offer refunds, inclusive of a $25 (£20) credit to out-of-pocket users. Along with the libraries, the company says highlights or notes made by the users will also be lost.

Through previous reports by Microsoft made in April, the company insinuated on giving up on its project of making surface computers a popular choice for the digital reading of novels and textbooks. Giving in to fierce competition of Amazon’s Kindle, the latest move has been a third instance, where the company has backed out from market rivalry.

However, the ebooks service was an idea launched by Microsoft much before Amazon’s Kindle. Format of MSReader was initiated in 2000, when it was part of an alliance with retailer Barnes and Noble (B&N). However, Microsoft then entered a competitive battle with Palm and the French firm Mobipocket.

Again in 2012, Microsoft came into the market with a second tie-up with B&N. However, that partnership also saw an early end in 2014. “The fact is that you don’t own e-books when you buy them with DRM [digital rights management] from Amazon or anywhere else,” reported Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group on the latest move by Microsoft. “Technical controls through DRM are said to reduce unauthorized copying, but what they are really for is putting Amazon or Microsoft in charge of the e-book ecosystem.”

This move by Microsoft is a helpful reminder that users do not actually own a copy of digital purchases, they rather own a license that can expire. Defective by Design maintains a handy list, that suggests ways to buy or download content that is viable to restrictions.