Consumers who bought e-books through Microsoft’s online store will be losing access to their digital libraries, as the company plans to remove the service altogether by the end of July.
The service launched in 2017, utilising a web browser instead of a dedicated app. However, this service failed to build up a significant audience, with rival services such as the highly-acclaimed Amazon Kindle, and Aldiko Book Reader, dominating the e-book scene.
Titles that were purchased or offered for free will not be available anymore, but users who did pay for titles will be offered refunds. Users who made highlights or notes, which will also be lost once the service is completely shut down, will receive a credit to be used online on other applications in the Microsoft Store. If the credit card or payment method that you have linked with your Microsoft account has expired, you will be handed a credit instead of a refund.
Microsoft first released a warning to its customers of the service ending altogether back in April, with the company opting not to make its Surface computers the popular choice for reading e-books.
This will be the third time that Microsoft has left the e-book market, with it having a service that pre-dated Amazon Kindle by around seven years, MSReader, launching back in 2000, but there was little interest in it.
Microsoft tried to get back into the market once again in 2012, yet it struggled once again and the service ended just two years after, in 2014.
Experts say that this shut down serves as a reminder that whilst you may have purchased the e-book to be available in your library, you do not actually own a copy of most digital purchases, but simply a licence that can expire at any time.
The executive director of the Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, when asked about this turn of events said that “The fact is that you don’t own e-books when you buy them with DRM [digital rights management] from Amazon or anywhere else.”
DRM acts as a digital lock that prohibits users from illegally sharing files with others, yet these same locks are the sole reason that Microsoft can take away all of the books that have been purchased on such a basis.
This event is another example of how nowadays, you no longer actually own the files that you are buying, but you are actually renting the files, with the company being able to downgrade or even fully take away the service.