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View Poll Results: If you had the freedom of choice, which way would you go?
MTP 32 13.28%
UMS/MSC 159 65.98%
I don't care, just as long as it works. 50 20.75%
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Old 06-13-2006, 09:01 PM
DaveMac-MS DaveMac-MS is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Kirkland, WA
Posts: 1,482
Default MTP vs. MSC (UMS) <-- the great debate

Hi folks:

I wanted to take a moment to address what is becoming a popular discussion in several areas here - mass storage (UMS) versus media transfer protocol (MTP) support in devices. I should point out that I work at Microsoft in the Digital Media Division of Windows Client, and wrote many of the PlaysForSure requirements for portable devices. I was also a member of the MS team that cooperated with iriver on the development of the Clix.

Firstly, let me correct a couple of popular misconceptions about MTP:

1) Yes, you can drag and drop files to and from MTP devices connected to a PC just like you can with UMS. On Windows XP you need to have WMP10/11 installed in order to have the MTP driver on your system. Windows Vista will ship with native MTP support, obviously. With WMP11, I can drag albums to and from devices, I can copy non-media content to my device (data taxi) and I can double-click and execute content from a portable device.

2) If you want, you can rearrange the folders on your device using the Windows Shell Extension (Windows Explorer). Try it - I just did on a Clix, by creating a "Country Music" folder and then dragged all my country content to that folder. I disconnected and then browsed and played my content back on the device just like before. Regardless, this is a device implementation issue - not MTP - but there is nothing about the protocol that disallows this.

3) UMS is less intuitive than MTP because the average person in the street doesn't connect their music player to their computer and expect to see it pop up as "E:\". Most of us in this forum are pretty experienced in this stuff, and have lived through the UMS days - new users however, shouldn't have to. They should plug their device in and see an icon representing that device.

4) MTP is being standardized in the USB-IF in exactly the same fashion that Mass Storage Class was standardized. Actually, I'm the chair of that effort - so if you have any questions, please let me know. The point is - anyone can implement MTP; it is file system, operating system and DRM mechanism agnostic.

5) MTP enables Windows Media DRM. Now, I understand that DRM is a sensitive issue, and that some folks want to avoid DRM like the plague. No worries - heck I rip my own personal CDs in unprotected format for my own personal use, but having an MTP DAP doesn't impact my desire to use either DRM'd, clear, or mixed content. If I had a UMS device then I'd never be able to purchase content online from the major stores like Urge, Napster, Rhapsody, etc...

6) PlaysForSure does not require devices to support only MTP - UMS can be implemented too, but under certain conditions that prevent newbies from transferring content via MTP, switching to UMS and then calling tech support because they can't find/play their content

7) Device vendors are trying to build products which will generate the fewest support calls. Retailers are trying to sell products which generate the fewest returns. Overwhelmingly high return numbers on UMS devices (which were returned and swapped for iPods in a very large percentage of cases) meant that vendors switched to MTP support and retailers started to strongly support PlaysForSure. Don't forget that in all cases, Microsoft is a partner in this technology with device vendors and retailers, along with consumers.

I hope that clarifies things somewhat. Happy to answer questions or respond to comments to the extent that I'm (obviously) able to.

Cheers, Dave.
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