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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Digital Media

Get 100 free MP3 albums from Microsoft

"We'll see your one free album, Google, and raise you a hundred!" The catch? Windows 8 and Windows Phone users only.

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Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

A few quick housekeeping notes before we get started...

First, happy Thanksgiving! I'll be back here on Friday, of course, with some hand-picked sweet deals, but in the meantime let me wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday. I'm endlessly thankful for all of you!

Second, don't forget to enter the Cheapskate drone sweepstakes! You've got just a few days left to toss your name into the hat, so to speak, for a shot at one of three awesome quad-copters. I give extra thanks to StackSocial for these great prizes.

On to business! Regular readers know I love to criticize Microsoft, mainly because its products are overpriced and don't work well. Just kidding. Kind of. Read on.

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Nice works if you can get them. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

For a limited time, Microsoft is offering 100 free albums when you install the company's Music Deals app. That's pretty incredible, but there's a catch: only Windows 8 and Windows Phone users can take advantage of the giveaway. Also, it's kind of a pain to get the albums, at least on a PC. (I haven't tried on a phone.)

It's well worth the effort, though, as the freebies include lots of big-name artists: Eminem, U2, Katy Perry, Norah Jones, Mumford & Sons, James Taylor, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, Ellie Goulding and so on. Most of the albums are at least a year or two old, but that doesn't make them any less appealing.

To get them, start by installing the Music Deals app. Open it, then click "Holiday Freebies." Scroll through the albums until you find one you want, then click it.

On the subsequent page, click "Get it for free." This will require you to confirm that you want to open the Music app, so click "Yes." Now you should be looking at the Music Deals app on the left and the Music app on the right (see screenshot up top). In that right-hand pane, click the little green "Get it free" link. Approve your "purchase" and your download should commence. Whew!

Back in the left-hand pane, you can click the back button to return to the free-albums list, then choose another one. But when you do, you'll once again have to confirm you want to "switch" to the Music app, even though it's still open on the right!

Oh, and if you happen to switch out of either app, you'll more or less have to start the entire process over from the beginning. Seriously. I so appreciate this giveaway, Microsoft, but this kind of user-interface insanity might be a reason Windows 8 generated so much user hostility. Oh, and at least a few of my selections resulted in download errors (facepalm).

What do you think? Am I being too hard on Microsoft (as usual)? Maybe it's wrong of me to criticize such a generous giveaway. As always, I eagerly await your feedback.

Bonus deal: Do you have an Audible account? For today only, bop on over to this promo page, scroll down a bit to where it says, "Already a member?" and click "Sign In." Click through the next couple pages and bam, you'll get a $10 Audible credit! Ostensibly this is for Verizon customers, which means it may get pulled once the Internet at large gets wind of it, but as of this morning I was able to score that sweet, sweet freebie.