BuyMusic Stupidthon, Day 4 (7/25/03)

Aaaaand the fun train just keeps on chug-chug-chugging along-- although the company sure doesn't want Mac users to know about it. Faithful viewer Eric Beyer was the first of many to inform us that, all of a sudden, Mac users can't even access BuyMusic's web site, let alone buy anything from it. Since bigwig Scott Blum is evidently Microsoft's happy little bondage slave and based his iTMS ripoff around the Windows Media format, it's well-documented that nobody can buy and play music from his service unless they're running Windows, Internet Explorer, and the latest version of Windows Media Player; however, until now, users of other platforms and browsers could at least take a poke around and see what they were, um, missing. What do you reckon, did Blum's web lackeys finally notice that half of the site's traffic was coming from funseeking Mac and Linux users who couldn't buy anything even if they wanted to, and were just there to see how badly it sucked?

For whatever reason, trying to load any page on the site with anything other than Internet Explorer on Windows now takes you to this page, which thanks you for visiting and then politely informs you that "in order to take full advantage of's offerings you must be on a Windows Operating System using Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher." (We assume by "take full advantage of" they mean "look at anything other than this delightfully entertaining but admittedly minimalist error message.") It then provides a handy link so you can "Download Internet Explorer Here," even if you're using a Mac and it's just told you that it's therefore just not going to work no matter what browser you use. We don't know what genius came up with that idea, but clearly there's some degree of rocket science involved.

Interestingly enough, BuyMusic is redirecting users of "bad" browsers and operating systems via Javascript-- which means that if you're using a browser with a Javascript implementation that lets you change how it reports itself (such as OmniWeb), you can tell it to disguise itself as IE 6.0 for Windows and you're in. Otherwise, a method that should work in pretty much any browser (we tried it in a couple) is just to disable Javascript entirely. Once you regain access to the site, you're free to go hunting for the one song in 300,000 that actually costs 79 cents, laugh yourself silly at BuyMusic's byzantine and inconsistent license restrictions, or email customer service with a question. Personally, we asked them why we're no longer allowed even to browse their site from a Mac; you may choose to ask a different question, such as "how does it feel to have no shame?", "is it a condition of employment that you sell your soul to the Dark Prince?", or "how much of your company's time and money am I needlessly wasting by asking you this in the first place?"

Or here's a good question to ask, based on a tip from faithful viewer j79: "Given that your service can't sell music to Mac users in the first place and you've gone so far as to try to block Mac access completely, should we interpret not just the initial but the continued presence of a link on the home page inviting visitors to purchase Toast Titanium for Mac as a sign of congenital stupidity, or was your idiocy brought on later in life through chemical means or neurological trauma?" Feel free to paraphrase, of course. But remember, they're there to help, so if you've got something on your mind, ask away!

SceneLink (4099)
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The above scene was taken from the 7/25/03 episode:

July 25, 2003: just keeps digging its hole deeper and deeper; now it's trying to keep out anyone who doesn't use Windows and Internet Explorer. Meanwhile, a switcher defends the "Switch" campaign's effectiveness even as Apple removes the ads from its web site, and Microsoft admits that the systems of about 27 million of its customers crash at least three times a day...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4100: What Constitutes Failure? (7/25/03)   There's nothing worse than a bored analyst. (Actually, we've heard that exfoliating with a Brillo pad and then dunking one's head in a bucket of Tabasco sauce is pretty bad, too, but it's a close race.)...

  • 4101: But You Knew It All Along (7/25/03)   Okay, it's not like we didn't suspect it pretty much all our adult lives, but it's a whole 'nother can of creamed corn when you hear your suspicions confirmed by the authorities themselves. The Mac Observer tweezes out an interesting nugget of info buried in a New York Times article about Microsoft's annual meeting for financial analysts: "Mr. Gates acknowledged today that the company's error reporting service indicated that 5 percent of all Windows-based computers now crash more than twice each day."...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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