Yes, the backwards compatibility for Marketplace content is there "by design"... but Microsoft does not test or support full compatibility. Existing players that handle PlaysForSure (WMP 11, Windows Media Center, Winamp, Roku SoundBridge, Xbox 360, etc.) can play Zune content... they appear as "normal" PlaysForSure content.
So most/all PlaysForSure portables can play ball, too. Again, "unsupported" = "don't call Zune support."
It's still mostly "for a better experience." It's about control of the full ecosystem and experience. Allowing other PlaysForSure content onto the Zune, though I wish they had supported it, would add complexity and confusion. Zune users could have problems with, say, Yahoo! Music, Napster or URGE protected content and their associated "stores." It also would probably add even more limits to the already limited song beaming feature... if enabled, I'd assume any non-Zune PlaysForSure content would need to be blocked from that feature, since I doubt Microsoft could make agreements with every vendor. (Currently, they only need to worry about Zune Marketplace suppliers... and the content that the owners don't want Zune users to beam temporarily is flagged/disabled at the track level.)
Oh, well... such is life.
Last edited by grommet; 12-05-2006 at 09:01 AM..