A recent report on WMPowerUser notes that the new DRM and anti-piracy measures recently implemented by Microsoft for Marketplace applications alongside the launch of Marketplace for Mobile on the PC has been cracked. The crack is simple and only involves bypassing some snippets of code, leaving some developers to be frustrated and angry over the lack of a more solid anti-piracy protection. Some developers even want to use their own methods. According to the report, a member from XDA-Developers states, “Several developers are annoyed that Microsoft does not allow us to use our own licensing schemes, and are forced to use “no protection” (the original CAB copy protection) or use Microsoft’s scheme which is essentially a single point of failure for all Marketplace protected apps.”
Fortunately, the crack will not be released by ChainFire on XDA-Developers.
Piracy exists on every platform. Pegging the DRM failure and piracy on Microsoft may be a bit narrow. Yes, it is sad–and truly, deeply bad–that developers are losing money for each app pirated. However, piracy exists in many ecosystems, including the wildly popular iPhone iTunes App Store, which one developer notes that there is a 95% piracy rate(1). However, the flip side of the coin is that the adoption rate and purchase rate for apps is also higher. Prior to the ease of OTA downloads of apps, not many smartphone users purchased or downloaded third-party apps. It’s a double edged sword
What does Marketplace offer? There will always inherent risks of piracy no matter how good the DRM scheme is, but Marketplace aims to improve app distribution, saving developers time and costs. Hopefully, increased app adoption rates, reduced marketing costs, and greater consumer exposure to apps will hopefully outweigh the risks and costs associated with app piracy.
A solution for consumers will be best. As Microsoft and developers engage in talks, hopefully the next implementation of DRM will be stronger, but still offer the continued ease of use in app downloads that will be easy for consumers. Implementation of serial numbers as a DRM adds another layer to the process, but consumers may not want the hassle of storing and remembering the serial number to decrypt the app for future re-installation in case the device needs to be wiped. Disparate licensing schemes would not be beneficial to the end-user.