Oh, you wanted to play MP3s? So sorry!

One of the exciting new features of Verizon's new digital music download functionality is that it breaks MP3s:
The company's new song download service, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is being built around Microsoft's digital media technology. As part of that service, Verizon decided to eliminate the phones' previous ability to play MP3 files, hoping to keep the phones' music features simple, a company spokesman said.

A reasonable idea, I suppose. After all, it would no doubt be too difficult to create a piece of software that could play multiple media formats with the same transparent UI.

In most cases, customers can still transfer their own music to the phones, and many may not even notice a difference. Microsoft's Windows Media 10 software will automatically make a copy of MP3 songs on a computer's hard drive and load them onto the phone in the correct Microsoft-based format, leaving the original unchanged.

This sounds fine, of course, but it's important to remember that these are lossy formats, and every time you transcode between them you degrade the quality. But it sure will be simple!