Microsoft Store will undertake a rather massive purging project. All the eBooks that Microsoft is currently offering through its virtual store will vanish. If that’s not bad enough, even the books that customers purchased and are currently reading or storing in their account will be deleted remotely. Microsoft will offer a refund to all the users and even offer a token amount for any annotations or notes. However, Microsoft Store closing down eBook section is a shocking reminder of the fragility of the digital marketplace controlled with DRM.
Any Microsoft customer who bought eBooks from the Microsoft Store’s virtual shelves is about to experience the power of Digital Rights Management or DRM. Microsoft is about to take down all listings of eBooks this month. In other words, the company will empty out all the soft copies of books from the digital shelves and will also stop the selling eBooks. In short, the Microsoft Store eBook section is coming to an end.
Incidentally, Microsoft had announced way back in April that it would stop selling eBooks. This announcement clearly indicated Microsoft wasn’t interested in continuing the trade of offering soft copies of literature. Hence, the confirmation isn’t a surprise.
How Will Microsoft Take Down Purchased Copies Of eBooks?
Any and all eBooks that Microsoft sold till date will cease to be accessible this month. Even the “free” books that users downloaded through Microsoft Store will be deleted.
Microsoft started selling eBooks back in 2017. During this time, all the major app stores, including Google’s Play Store, Amazon, and Apple’s App Store were already offering a dedicated section for eBooks. Microsoft was clearly a late entrant. Still, customers, and more importantly Windows operating system users, flocked in some numbers to the virtual shelves to purchase copies of eBooks.
Soon, however, users started grumbling about the excessive use of digital locks and limitations that Microsoft slapped on the eBooks. The way Microsoft deployed its eBooks section was highly restrictive. To begin with, anyone who bought Microsoft’s eBooks had to use Microsoft’s Edge browser to read them. This is because Microsoft never got around to offering a dedicated, fast and efficient eBook reader application. The simplest and apparently most annoying workaround was forcing users to rely on Microsoft’s Edge browser.
Microsoft’s restrictive approach was primarily to maintain the DRM or Digital Rights Management locks on the eBooks it sold. The DRM ensured only the people who bought the eBooks had access to them. Users or readers could not share their purchases with anyone. Incidentally, it is precisely due to these restrictive practices of using DRM, that Microsoft can not only pull down all copies of eBooks from its own virtual store but also erase any all copies that customers purchased.
How Will Microsoft Handle The Closure Of Its eBook Store?
Microsoft would stop selling eBooks, and any books the company already sold would stop working in early July because the DRM servers were being shut off. As all the copies of eBooks, purchased or otherwise, resided solely on the remote DRM servers, Microsoft can essentially flip a switch and terminate access to any and all titles. The copies or the eBooks section would essentially go offline, and be longer reachable.
Microsoft has indicated that it will refund all purchases. All the refunds will be processed back to whichever account that the users had provided while purchasing eBooks. It is quite likely that many users may have closed the accounts or their Credit Cards that were used during the purchase might have been canceled or expired. In other words, it is possible that eBook purchasers might not have a working payment method stored with Microsoft. Under such remote but likely circumstances, Microsoft will issue a store credit. Users can use the credit on any of the Microsoft Store. Incidentally, the store credit will be valid for online purchases on Microsoft Store only.
eBook users often make important observations and jot down footnotes or annotations. Microsoft allowed its users to create such annotations. However, with the DRM servers being taken offline, even these notes would be erased. To assuage such eBook customers, Microsoft is offering $25. However, only those customers who made annotations in their books prior to April 2 will get the credit.