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Originally published Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Microsoft ditches Plays for Sure

Plays For Sure, a program launched by Microsoft in 2004 to help consumers select digital-media players that would work with its software...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Plays For Sure, a program launched by Microsoft in 2004 to help consumers select digital-media players that would work with its software, has been scrapped.

The company quietly announced the branding change on its Web site Wednesday. The program has always been a bit confusing to consumers. Some technology pundits suggested this week that the change to the "Certified for Windows Vista" logo — rolled out last year to help consumers shop for printers, cameras and other devices for its new operating system — will only add to the confusion.

Microsoft positioned the change as an effort to reduce consumer confusion.

Product manager Ryan Moore said that "to consolidate logo programs so that consumers just need to look for one logo ... we rolled the specifications of Plays For Sure into the Certified for Windows Vista program."

The Plays For Sure program included information for manufacturers, such as sync time and playback, Moore said. "One of the requirements was also that it be able to play tracks that are encoded with Windows Media DRM, as many online music stores sell their tracks 'wrapped' in this format."

Some observers have expected this since Microsoft launched its Zune player just over a year ago, plunging head-first into the closed-system model that Apple employed to competition-crushing success with the iPod and iTunes. Plays For Sure was seen as an alternative to Apple's system, giving users a choice of devices, if not file formats.

Microsoft said its hardware partners are supportive of the change.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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