The Urge music service, an iTunes competitor jointly sponsored by Microsoft and MTV, is supposed to be one of the major selling points of the new Windows Media Player 11. When I clicked on it the first time, the service asked permission to download some software. I declined – I don’t plan to shop there and my unbending rule of thumb now is to be conservative about installing software.

I missed a 6800 word, 13 page license agreement – with some interesting details in the small print. A ZDNet columnist went though it carefully in this article and this followup article. It’s a whole lot of control handed to people who may not have our best interests in mind.

When you install the software to support the music store, you agree to automatic updates of the software, no notice required, to add new features – or to “address digital rights management issues.”

The service will have your consent to identify you, to review your music library and files, to display ads, to “manage the digital rights associated with Content,” and to respond vigorously to any attempt to defeat the digital rights management by turning off your programs and your ability to play your music.

The followup article makes it clear that this fits the definition of spyware promulgated by Microsoft for Windows Defender, but of course it won’t be identified as spyware.

Microsoft has earned our trust for automatic updates to Windows; for quite a while the updates have been narrowly focused on security. Maybe there will never be any abuse of the overly broad authority claimed by that license agreement. But it gives me the shivers.

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