'PlaysForSure' logo being replaced with 'Certified for Vista'

Without much explanation, Microsoft's PlaysForSure Web page, which had once been the meeting ground for its portable media tech partners, now bears a statement to users that the logo is being dropped.

"The PlaysForSure logo is getting a new look," the statement reads. "All the testing requirements for devices are the same, but instead of looking for the PlaysForSure logo to ensure compatibility, look for the Certified for Windows Vista logo."

That's the statement in its entirety, and apparently "compatibility" under the new definition is restricted to Windows Vista, not XP. Incidentally, the old PlaysForSure logo used the cobalt blue and Franklin Gothic typeface that had typified Windows XP and Windows Media Player 9.

Branches clearly marked on the page for consumers and businesses to follow led to no new information. In fact, the branch for partners leads to the same documents for portable device compliance requirements updated last July 15. Microsoft has offered no other explanation for the change thus far.

The PlaysForSure logo requirements (as they have been known up to now) specify the minimum set of features and options a handset, MP3 player, or portable media device must adhere to in order to qualify for using Microsoft's logo in its marketing. Previously, the marketing program was centered around Windows Media, not so much any one version of the Windows operating system.

Ironically, Microsoft's own Zune players use a different DRM scheme, and have thus not borne the PlaysForSure logo. However, the Zune has borne a "Certified for Windows Vista" logo up to now -- the same one that former PlaysForSure devices will now display, despite some unavoidable technological distinctions. Files purchased from the Zune marketplace will not work on other devices, even those also certified for Vista.

On Microsoft's Channel 9 developers' forum this afternoon, one member called the development, "the most nonsensical thing I've ever seen coming out of Microsoft."

"How on earth do I as a consumer with an older device understand how this new branding maps to what I own? Who at Microsoft looked at this and thought this was a good idea and was something that would help partners sell more devices?" queried JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg. "As opposed to this message which has been clear and consistent from day one. Gotta believe the folks in Cupertino are having a good chuckle over this one."

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