February 22, 2002

It's probably no surprise to any of you that Microsoft lies. What surprised me is how easy it was for me to catch them in a whopper.

I'm running Windows XP now (and I like it. Really, I do.) and because I'm a penny-pinching cheapskate I'm using the Windows Media Player rather than going out and buying something else with which to rip my CD collection. Well, Windows Media Player only rips in WMA format.

Microsoft says that WMA is superior to MP3. And I quote: "... the same quality as MP3 in nearly one-third the size" (click the link and steal some bandwidth from them to read it yourself). Now let's put aside for a moment the questionable morality involved in me supporting Microsoft in their obvious bid to muscle into the digital media market, and assume that this selling point would be enough for me to decide that WMA is the format for me. It's not much of a stretch. I like superior technology, and if I can get it for free, all the better (don't try to carve my arguments into bits by telling me that Linux is cheaper than Windows, or that your favorite OS is superior technology. Just stick with me until I get to the end of the story.)

So I ripped a CD at "CD-quality," which label the Redmond Liars have hung next to the "64 Kbps" option.

Now at various times in my life I've worked as a record producer, audio engineer, and composer. I've got a spot of tinnitus around 15KHz, but other than that, my hearing is good, and is honed to the point that I expected to be able to hear a difference.

I was appalled at what I heard. The walking hi-hat cymbal in Matchbox 20's "Real World" was whistling at me. WHISTLING, I tell you. A tone-deaf, one-eared WWII machine-gunner would cringe at an audio artifact like that (assuming you could get him to listen to Matchbox 20), and Microsoft was trying to tell me it was "CD-quality."

Heaven help us all if they actually succeed in their bid for world domination. Music will be plunged into the digital dark ages, and we'll all be crying to the nearest tone-deaf, one-eared machine-gunner to help us wage the only winnable war against the corporate monolith of DOOOM.

Okay, so maybe I'm over-reacting. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm actually advocating lining up MSFT execs and rail-gunning them into graves they've dug with their own bloodied hands. Nope. I'm a real peace-monger, I am. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. Nice music keeps me that way.