Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working"

Originally published at:


Is there a way to rip the DRM off of the books or convert them?


All their customers’ libraries are burning.


For most DRM you can use Calibre with an appropriate plugin (I did this successfully with almost all of my Amazon library). I can’t find any solution for Microsoft DRM, though – probably because there isn’t much demand, as I’ve never heard of anyone using their “service.”


I think DRM on most books is generally a terrible idea and probably should be outlawed. However, if it is going to be allowed, the DRM needs to expire AND there needs to be a way where if the seller goes out of business, the DRM is nullified.

And, in case you didn’t know this, Tor (one of Cory’s publishers) doesn’t use DRM on their books. I’m super happy when I find an author I like on Tor.


Yeah, I don’t see how Microsoft can’t just push a patch that either removes the DRM requirement, or just tricks it into thinking it’s getting what it needs from the server, like when they put a security camera on a loop in spy movies.


They could.
But they won’t.


So there’s that at least.


My, but that’s a savory line. Like part of a plot outline for a sequel to The Pagemaster. Or a sudden plot twist in Myst, or Borges’ “The Library of Babel”. Mmm.

Anyway, reminds me of when I was looking into losslessly stripping the DRM from some WMAs I bought off Napster (in its twilight years as an actual music store). There was some dreadfully convoluted process involving exploits in an outdated version of Media Player; in the end, I decided to be happy with just burning the files to a CD and then re-ripping them. I suppose in that sense you could probably just print these eBooks out onto paper. (And then re-scan them, if you’re really keen.)


Or screenshots from whatever the hell app Microsoft uses as a reader, which you could also do OCR on.


This is why i’ve never purchased an ebook. You can have your collection ripped away from you at any time and you can’t gift swap or sell them on like you can with real books, nor can you find rare gems for pennies in used book shops, charity shops or market stalls, (something i love to do). I know people who only ever read ebooks but will buy real books just to display as room decor because they’ll look nice on a shelf. My books look nice on shelves too but every one is a reflection of the things I like and aren’t just there to look nice.


I prefer the public library. I have a hard time understanding why anyone wouldn’t, especially in light of this.


People called Stallman a nut and his story ludicrous, but it has been maybe a little too accurate.


It almost certainly has to do with the deals MS made with the publishers. They probably can’t legally remove the DRM without violating their agreements.


This is why I did not buy into thing like this from Microsoft. Growing up in Redmond and being in IT for almost 30 years I watched the MS pattern of trying things, not liking their profitability and abandoning them over and over. Some things deserved the treatment, ActiveX Documents I’m looking at you, others not so much, Their MLB game they abandoned and stopped updating rosters around 2000. So this is not surprising and my key argument against SAS business models.
You would thing that rather then spending millions and millions on refunds if they were to simply push a firmware update to remove the check to keep the devices and content from bricking would be the right thing to do.


In that case refunding is literally the least they could do. The most responsible would be arranging for the book collections to be transferred to some other licensor. DRM-locked distributors should have a legal requirement to have fallbacks and transition plans for DRM sunsetting. Putting a book collection back together after a scortched-earth loss is more work than just the money spent.


Same here. The local library has a great selection of books and media, the whole library system is available by transfer for free, and the library is a great destination for travel by bicycle. And if you’re returning a big book like Caro’s The Power Broker you get extra work-out credit.

There’s just something about a real book in your hands.


This exact thing is happening with Ultraviolet, and they did it right, passing off our movie collections to other retailers so we will continue to have access.


That’s what I was going to say. If they are going to abandon the platform, have them converted to a standard format for ebooks (sorry, don’t read ebooks) or even a PDF.

That’s why I resisted ebooks until the advent of Calibre and its drm-removing plugins