Wash. Post: Napster To Go Doesn't Add Up

The new Napster To Go music service is not only the least compatible service available, its subscription model at US$15 a month "forces you to pay to keep your existing music," concludes Washington Post technology columnist Rob Pegoraro in his recent Fast Forward column.

Mr. Pegoraro explains that because Napster To Go uses the newer version of Microsoftis Windows Media software, it is "the least compatible music store in existence" because you can only use it "only on a Windows XP computer running Windows Media Player 10, and you can transfer your downloads only to a Windows Media-compatible player that includes special software and circuitry to enforce the pay-to-play deal."

He also chronicled his problems with music downloads using the service, explaining "transfers werenit all smooth" with some songs not transferring at all, and some copying more than once.

But it was Napsteris subscription model that met with little exceptance by Mr. Pegoraro.

"I have been purchasing CDs for about 20 years now, in which time Iive accumulated about 300 of the things," he wrote. "At an average of $15 each, Iive spent $4,500. Now suppose that, instead of buying those CDs, I could have opened up a Napster To Go account back in 1985. My total bill would be $3,600 and counting -- and although I might have accumulated a larger, more diverse collection, I wouldnit own any of it."

"I have a hard time accepting that. At its best, music has the same lasting value as books or paintings or any other sort of meaningful art: It isnit a disposable good that you use and then forget about. Itis something that you keep listening to and discovering new things in. When music is good, you want to know that it canit be taken away from you."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently made a similiar comment about subscription music services saying, "When you rent stuff, in the end youire left with nothing."