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Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection 294

Posted by Zonk
from the content-was-never-so-protected dept.
David Gerard writes "Security researcher Peter Gutmann has released A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection, a detailed explanation of just what the protected-content paths in Windows Vista mean to you the consumer: increased hardware cost and even less OS robustness. 'This document analyses the cost involved in Vista's content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry ... The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.'"
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Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:21PM (#17339986)
    Our company did last year, cities of Vienna and Munich did, French parliament did, it should work out very nicely for you too. Our former XP users love KDE.

    No need to put yourself through pains when you can improve security, save money and achieve a good deal of vendor independence all at the same time. Why support the Microsoft monopoly by paying ridiculous prices for bug ridden software with DRM restrictions, when you can run Free software on the industry standard (and thus inexpensive) hardware?

    Knowing everything I know now, I only regret that we did not migrate to GNU/Linux sooner.
    • by Utopia (149375) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:28PM (#17340106)
      Content Protection is a explicit opt-in from content providers.
      Its not mandated by the OS.

      Migrating a different OS doen't give you access to the protected content.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fahrbot-bot (874524)
        Content Protection is a explicit opt-in from content providers. Its not mandated by the OS.

        True, but the degradation discussed is a requirement for non-encrypted content streams. My understanding is that if you connect your new Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player via their analog outputs, or to a non-encrypted digital channel, the output is downgraded to a lower resolution (with respect to that of the encrypted digital channel).

        Vista: Go where we allow you to go, be all we think you should be...

        • by Utopia (149375) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:00PM (#17340684)
          Thats incorrect. Degradation is recommended by the HD standards only if the content provider has opted-in for content protection but the hardware used doesn't provide a complete protection path to the display.

          So non-opted content will display with full fidelity regardless of whether a non-secured or secured mechanism is used to display the content.
          • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:24PM (#17341062)
            Degradation is recommended by the HD standards only if the content provider has opted-in for content protection...

            Thanks for the clarification. What are the odds a content provider won't opt-in for protection? In any case, I can't really make any justification for Vista (or high-def DVD) at this point -- especially if this article is accurate.

            My guess is that the tighter DRM proponents squeeze, the more things will slip through their fingers -- to paraphrase someone I heard somewhere, sometime ago...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mrchaotica (681592) *
              What are the odds a content provider won't opt-in for protection?

              Actually, the odds are pretty good for current HD media, because the publishers want more market penetration before they tighten the noose.

          • Grandparent wrote:

            the degradation discussed is a requirement for non-encrypted content streams. My understanding is that if you connect your new Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player via their analog outputs, or to a non-encrypted digital channel, the output is downgraded to a lower resolution

            Parent replied:

            Thats incorrect. Degradation is recommended by the HD standards only if the content provider has opted-in for content protection but the hardware used doesn't provide a complete protection path to the display.

            S

      • by mfrank (649656)
        Employees at his company, of the cities of Vienna and Munich, and of the French Parliament don't need to be viewing protected content at work.
    • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:34PM (#17340200) Homepage Journal
      But, but, but... what about the high cost of retraining everyone to use all these new weird applications that don't make as much sense as Windows applications!!!? What about the steep learning curve since Linux is just inherently harder to use!!!? What about the fact that when the user tries to hit some valid work related site that needs to access media like Powerpoint, Flash 9 and higher, Windows Media Video, and the like that they won't be able to or will have a reduced quality end-user experience compared to MS Windows??? I've seen the Xine plug-in for Firefox and it doesn't work right. Instead of embedding the content in the browser as it should it pops open a new window and only about 20% of the time does the content actually play!! What about the fact that unless you've got a few gurus on your staff, when there's a problem there's NO ONE to go to for support once the problem is out of your league? Forums? HAH! Yeah, you've got a down critical situation with your users and you're going to fart away valuable time on forums where you may or may not get an answer in a day? A week? A month? A year? Never? The only answer if to get Windows Vista because it was built for real work and not for geeks with no life. Got that?

      [DISCLAIMER: The poster called 'eno2001' does not believe in what he stated above at all and is merely parodying the typical lies and misconceptions about GNU/Linux that come from the anti-Linux crowd. The poster called 'eno2001' expects many good responses to the false arguments presented above from the pro-Linux community. All anti-linux sentiments will be laughed at unless you're really good at what you do. The 'eno2001' has spoken.]
      • Modding of the above down is why I have Extra 'Flamebait' Modifier +6 set in my preferences.
    • by troll -1 (956834) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:02PM (#17340704)
      Why support the Microsoft monopoly by paying ridiculous prices for bug ridden software with DRM restrictions, when you can run Free software on the industry standard (and thus inexpensive) hardware?

      Ah, but according to the article Microsoft is forcing vendors to manufacture more expensive "content protection" cards so the most popular cards will be made (more expensively) according to Microsoft's specs.

      See the section on "Increased Hardware Costs".

      [I]nstead of varying video card cost based on optional components, the chipset vendor now has to integrate everything into a one- size-fits-all premium-featured graphics chip, even if all the user wants is a budget card for their kids' PC.

      So if you want to run that latest Radeon that all the gamers are using on Linux, you'll pay more and probably be hindered by all content protection junk it contains.
      • by westlake (615356) on Friday December 22, 2006 @03:47PM (#17342260)
        I]nstead of varying video card cost based on optional components, the chipset vendor now has to ntegrate everything into a one- size-fits-all premium-featured graphics chip, even if all the user wants is a budget card for their kids' PC.

        sounds like a plan to me.

        stamp out the single super chip as fast and cheap as you can make it. build it into motherboards. video cards. set top boxes. market it as high performance video at integrated video prices.

  • it doesn't matter! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bwy (726112) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:24PM (#17340034)
    It really doesn't matter. Before long each new Dell and every other new computer will be shipping with Vista. It could be the worst operating system ever, and within a few years everyone will be using it. There is virtually no way for Vista to fail, given the circumstances.
    • by kyliaar (192847) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:46PM (#17340442)
      Not true.

      We don't have to look too far into the past to see that not every Microsoft OS product has been a raging success. *cough* *cough* Windows ME

      Happy Windows ME users were few and far between in my experience. Not having native USB support as well as having a host of stability issues that were hard to debug, etc. few people upgraded to it or quickly upgraded away from it when XP became wildly available.

      I realize that the document linked to is written with what seems to be an almost inflammatory bias, it does sound that the Vista Content Protection is a move in the wrong direction for the content publishing industry and lawyers rather than the consumers.

      Not even Microsoft is immune to the forces of the market. They do have dominance in a field where migrations away from a product are often expensive and time consuming but, at the very least, if they produce a crap product, people will not upgrade to it.

      People making new purchases are much freer to choose from a competitor that may not have the same problems.
      • by IANAAC (692242)

        Happy Windows ME users were few and far between in my experience.

        True, but then (if I remember correctly), ME wasn't out there for very long either. Not that it was replaced with anything very qucily, but I think retailers still had the choice of having 98 loaded onto PCs and stayed with that.

        And the few people I knew that actually got a machine with 98 installed pretty much immediately went back to 98. Remember that back then you didn't normally have a restore CD, you had the full install media fo

      • by drawfour (791912)
        Happy Windows ME users were few and far between in my experience. Not having native USB support as well as having a host of stability issues that were hard to debug, etc. few people upgraded to it or quickly upgraded away from it when XP became wildly available.
        Yup. Went from one Microsoft product to another. Who cares if it failed when just about everyone who had it still ran a Microsoft OS when all was said and done?
      • by laffer1 (701823)
        Retail sales are hurt, but not OEM. If someone needs a new PC, they will buy one even if vista has bad ratings. Two people in my family bought windows me based pcs. The first was my mother and she only got rid of it last month as I built her a new PC with Windows XP on it. The second was my wife's grandmother. She still uses Windows ME every day.

        I agree it was the worst windows release since 1.0 but that didn't stop it from selling. Besides, Microsoft is used to bad sales at first on products. Rememb
      • by bwy (726112)
        Point taken, but there is a big difference between Windows ME and Vista. I believe ME was just a blip on the radar screen- part a progression that went from Windows 95 to Windows 98 and Windows ME if I'm not mistaken. It wasn't a brand new kernel and nothing revolutionary.

        The progression I saw in the corporate world was often:
        [developers/power users] Windows NT 3.5 --> NT 4.0 --> Win2K--> XP Pro
        [biz users] Windows 3.1 --> Windows 95 --> Windows 98 --> XP Pro

        Not all companies I'
      • by Technician (215283) on Friday December 22, 2006 @06:49PM (#17344234)

        People making new purchases are much freer to choose from a competitor that may not have the same problems.


        I see Apple having a very good year.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Before long each new Dell and every other new computer will be shipping with Vista.

      Maybe.

      Maybe not [apple.com].
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      But Microsoft depends on the corporate customers who actually pay a huge amount of money for hundreds or thousands of licences for the more expensive "pro" versions. The "consumers" who buy OEM Vista (which is heavily discounted for OEMs) hardly contribute any money to Microsoft, and a lot of people who use vanilla versions pirate their copies or get a copy from the office.

      Mindshare != success.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "But Microsoft depends on the corporate customers who actually pay a huge amount of money for hundreds or thousands of licences for the more expensive "pro" versions. "

        An even larger customer, the Govt/DoD for MS might hold some weight on this. They REALLY don't like to change OS's often or quickly. Many just now are using W2K....I don't think they'll be jumping the gun to move to Vista any time soon. Too much at stake for a quick OS upgrade like that.

    • There is virtually no way for Vista to fail, given the circumstances.

      But there is a chance -- perhaps even a likelihood -- that "Vista Content Protection" will fail. If Microsoft cannot justify the additional trouble of working within the system to content creators/providers, they will not offer "protected" content.
  • by Sexy Commando (612371) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:27PM (#17340092) Journal
    This so-called analysis was written by thinking of a conclusion first, then filling in the blanks. There are no citing of references to support his claims.
    This is just simply a political blurb.
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:44PM (#17340408) Homepage
      This so-called analysis was written by thinking of a conclusion first, then filling in the blanks. There are no citing of references to support his claims. This is just simply a political blurb.

      I was thinking the same thing - TFA is nothing but a long winded rant against Micro$oft. Reading a 'cost analysis', I expect the discussion to center around... costs. Which were significant by their absence.
      • by VENONA (902751) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#17342782)
        Well, Gutmann is known in my circles for having done some good work, and having a track record that goes back for years. Things like trying to get the word out on how bad RC4 encryption was (and I wish IEEE had paid attention before the absurdly-named WEP was created--the RC4 issue was *not* all about key length, despite Microsoft claims), breaking early Windows pasword encryption, breaking a couple of disk encryption schemes, pointing out some serious flaws in Linux VPN software, etc. The list is fairly long. Apparently some people here think he's some sort of standardized media pundit--just another talking head. Uh, no.

        Although some of what he said is new to me, I know he's dead right on some other bits. I know I'm very much prepared to give the man the benefit of the doubt on the parts that are new to me. Which sucks. To me, the best thing about Windows is that it was the central force that drove hardware into commodity status, and lowered all of our costs. Now we may have to give some of that benefit back. That isn't something I'm happy to do, particularly for the sake of Vista, which I'll never use.

        I don't see how you can say the piece wasn't about costs. That thread was all through it. You expected actual numbers? That's *very* proprietary information to any vendor. Nor is it likely that the vendors themselves have much hard data yet, in the specific case of Vista, as it's very early innings. They can't even be sure of the adoption rate yet, so fabrication contracts, and a myriad other details are likely to change fairly rapidly over the next few months.

        Yet it's very clear that the broader picture in one of increasing costs for hardware vendors. Some of that will probably just mean lower margins, but even that doesn't mean that only investors will be hurt. It also means less R&D, which isn't good for anyone, in the long term. And some of those costs *will* be passed on. Investors will demand it.

        There are other issues, of course--reduced functionality and stability, yet more difficulty in avoiding binary blobs in GPL kernels, etc. None of this is good news to assorted non-Windows people, though much of it will hit Windows users as well. It's not the end of the world (and wasn't presented as if it were) but it's certainly bad news.
    • by melikamp (631205)

      Really? The guy is saying that the robust DRM implementation will make Vista computers more expensive and less stable. We already knew that. He goes on to give technical reasons. Is there anything in the TFA you disagree with, or are you just a Vista fan?

      If anything, he does not go far enough. He fails to mention that we'll have to live with this overhead in price and performance for no reason at all, since most of us will be using computers to play non-premium content anyway. He also fails to mention tha

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)


        Excellent point about the non-premium content. Corporations (except those in the media industry itself) in particular mostly won't care about any of these Vista "features" - but they will end up paying extra in their budgets for new PCs for decades to come. But it's unlikely any CIO is thinking about it in those terms - which means Vista is, in a sense, a "Trojan Horse". As TFA points out, basically it's intent is to establish Microsoft as an even bigger "technological monopoly" (supported by the "legal mon
  • This is absurd. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CDarklock (869868) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:28PM (#17340102) Homepage Journal
    Every time I see an analysis of what DRM means to the consumer, I see all this crap about how it's going to make things more expensive and lower quality. And that's true - SOME things will be more expensive and lower quality.

    But these analyses never stop to consider HOW MUCH will be more expensive and lower quality, or exactly what changes we're discussing. What will be lower quality and more expensive is the DRM-protected content. And DRM sucks. People will complain. Vendors will eventually listen.

    At the moment, we have a lot of content providers who refuse to provide any content without DRM because they can't imagine making a profit otherwise. DRM gets them to provide something instead of nothing. Historically, unprotected content outperforms protected content; because you spend nothing trying to stop people from stealing it, you recover more revenue than you were losing to theft anyway. If we just let providers choose, they will eventually make the right choice. We can't force them to make the right choice NOW, because they won't make it. They'll provide zero content.

    That's the false dilemma. Everyone seems to think the choice is protected content or unprotected content, but it's not - it's protected content or NO content. Fighting the protected content is not going to get you what you want. You have to let the providers make their stupid DRM plans and try them, so they'll see for themselves that it's stupid.
    • Re:This is absurd. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dachannien (617929) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:00PM (#17340686)
      We can't force them to make the right choice NOW, because they won't make it. They'll provide zero content.

      Not true. The content cabal claimed that without a broadcast flag, their government-mandated efforts to switch to digital broadcast HDTV would be tantamount to suicide, and they threatened to obstruct the production of content in HD until such a flag was passed. Here we are, three years after the FCC first tried to implement the broadcast flag by providential decree, and we have a bevy of digital broadcast high-definition programming with no broadcast flag.

      The reason the content cabal will never provide "zero content" is because there's too much money to be made even without DRM. The only reason they want DRM is because it provides them with additional control over the content that they sell to us that goes beyond copyright and piracy prevention. It's the same reason they have things like User Operation Prohibited and Region Codes in the DVD spec. Neither of those forms of DRM have anything to do with preventing piracy. UOP is used to force-feed advertising (and the ubiquitously-ignored FBI warning) to the paying customer, and region codes are used to exploit worldwide market arbitrage.

      They are fighting tooth and nail today to get DRM everywhere they can, because they know that once the technological dust settles and the standards that we'll be using for the next 20 years mature, if it doesn't have DRM in it, it never will in any meaningful sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CDarklock (869868)
        The digital broadcasts currently being made are just a duplication of the analog broadcasts. The difference between the two is zero. No additional content is provided.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamacat (583406)
      We can't force them to make the right choice NOW, because they won't make it. They'll provide zero content.

      Totally fine with me. I'll give them zero money and find other forms of entertainment, like going to a local theater. This is capitalism, why should I beg anyone to sell me stuff that intentionally self-destructs?
    • by mkcmkc (197982) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:23PM (#17341048)
      That's the false dilemma. Everyone seems to think the choice is protected content or unprotected content, but it's not - it's protected content or NO content. Fighting the protected content is not going to get you what you want. You have to let the providers make their stupid DRM plans and try them, so they'll see for themselves that it's stupid.
      For me, it's unprotected content or NO content. My media purchases are now less than ten percent of what they were a decade ago, specifically for this reason. (Yeah, I'm still 10% a hypocrite.) Copyright is being used to wreak a lot of havoc, and I'm not going to pay those who are doing it.
      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        I didn't buy ANY DVD's until there was a way to crack it. I knew all along that I wanted to have a media server PC that could store and manage my videos like I could with music. Along those lines, I won't buy any HD-DVD technology until there is a viable way for me to crack it (and HDCP.) The higher resolution, while nice, is not worth the restrictions. I will not buy a "license to watch on authorized devices only under our restrictive terms / technology with no viable backup options or media conversion cap
        • I sort of wish a consumer interests group would make like the Mozilla guys and place a big, preferably whole-page, ad in a major newspaper to debunk this stuff once and for all. Pointing out to consumers, in clear and simple langauge, the real limitations the coming generation of DRM technology will impose on their everyday activities, and pointing out to business leaders the immense risks incurred by basing your IT infrastructure on systems that another business can turn off on a whim, should be enough to

        • by CDarklock (869868)
          > The higher resolution, while nice, is not worth the restrictions.

          BINGO.

          Yeah, I can tell the difference between an HD-DVD and a regular DVD. I just don't really care. It's only useful on the rare occasions I want to crop a frame down to an interesting detail and post it somewhere, which is exactly the sort of thing DRM wants to prevent. If I have to take on a whole new layer of pain-in-the-ass, what do I get for it? Five or six captures a year? Screw that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'd rather have my freedom than their content.

      Plus do we really need more than normal CD or TV quality? A choice between that and freedom versus high-def and no freedom is easy.

      As for new content, if the content providers stop producing, so what, we've got enough content now. And if they stop producing, they stop profiting and go bankrupt so they won't do that.
    • If we just let providers choose, they will eventually make the right choice. We can't force them to make the right choice NOW, because they won't make it. They'll provide zero content.

      I know places where I can legally buy non-DRM music [emusic.com] and books [fictionwise.com]. (A magazine [baens-universe.com] should also be mentioned.) I don't know one for movies at the moment, unless you count YouTube and other completely indepent films distributed online. (Of which there are a few, some of very high quality.)

      The big cartels provide zero content. But there is a fair amount of content avalible with no DRM. It just doesn't have the big names behind it.

    • "Historically, unprotected content outperforms protected content; because you spend nothing trying to stop people from stealing it, you recover more revenue than you were losing to theft anyway."

      I don't necessarily agree with this.
      "Historically", people didn't have the ability to "share" (i.e. make copies of) material with millions of strangers nearly instantaneously. That's quite different from the old days where someone would buy an album and make a handful of cassettes for his friends/family.

      And I also
      • by CDarklock (869868)
        > I agree that DRM sucks. But so does rampant piracy.

        That's an important point. However, I think piracy is an important part of a free market: clearly there is a demand for the product, you're just not providing the supply at an optimal price point. I think a small amount of piracy is inevitable, but rampant piracy is a big flashing neon sign that says "your market strategy is broken". Rampant piracy means it is so much easier to steal your product than it is to buy it, nobody is willing to do anything e
    • by Alsee (515537)
      I see all this crap about how it's going to make things more expensive and lower quality. And that's true - SOME things will be more expensive and lower quality... What will be lower quality and more expensive is the DRM-protected content.

      Did you even bother to Read The Fine Article?

      Apparently not.

      -
      • by CDarklock (869868)
        Yes, I read the article. It blandly asserts that as soon as you try to watch anything with DRM, everything gets automatically degraded and there's nothing you can do about it. And then HAX0RZ HAV STOLUN YUOR MEGAHURTZ! Oh Golly! YOU ARE TRAPPED and here is my butt.

        Simply put, I don't believe that when I watch a DRM-protected movie, my system will be forever degraded by the act. I believe I'll have some degradation while I'm watching it. I believe I may see some corollary degradation in other content I watch
        • by JoshJ (1009085)
          The problem is they ALL take your freedoms away. The "content providers" are large corporations, not people. The "rights" of corporations are irrelevant next to the rights of individual people. Corporate personhood is a fiction, nothing more.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CDarklock (869868)
            Yes, but it's a useful and convenient fiction, so I use it. Feel free to use whatever tortured linguistic construct you like to represent corporate rights as opposed to individual rights, I'll just pretend that a corporation has the same rights as an individual.

            Oh, wait, that's the legal reality. Hmm.

            WRT the point that they all take your freedoms away, this is only true as long as it isn't more profitable to give you those freedoms. Corporations don't have ideals and dreams. They have revenue, period. (Whic
    • > Everyone seems to think the choice is protected content or unprotected
      > content, but it's not - it's protected content or NO content. Fighting the
      > protected content is not going to get you what you want.

      They have nothing I want, and never will.
  • Very interesting analysis. I thought Vista was supposed to make money. According to this Vista is going to bring 100,000 new jobs [informationweek.com] to the US.
    • by bockelboy (824282)

      According to this Vista is going to bring 100,000 new jobs to the US.

      The question here is, of course, which one of these will be true:

      1) Vista will unlock new potential markets for companies, allowing them to hire new programmers to add features to existing products or create new ones.

      2) Vista will increase the barrier of entry for programs, meaning 100,000 new jobs will be created just to be able to support it, even in the absence of new features.

      As someone who every so often has to see Windows wh

    • by vertinox (846076)
      Yes. I hear Best Buy's Geek Squad is hiring to deal with the influx of confused and angry customer.
  • Counterpoint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:31PM (#17340158) Homepage Journal

    The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

    If hysterical stuff like this is the best the anti-Microsoft forces can come up with (and this guy isn't the first one, just the latest in a long line of hysterical essays), it's pretty clear that Microsoft ain't that bad as a company, despite what some people want to believe. Maybe, just maybe, if you have to resort to that kind of rhetoric, maybe your position isn't that strong?

    Disclaimer: I don't hate Microsoft. I am, however, frequently annoyed by their mediocrity, and unbelievably frustrated that someone doesn't have the balls to start a company dedicated to making an absolutely, positively 100%-compatible Windows clone based on a Unix-like operating system.

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I don't think it is legally possible to make a 100% windows clone....nevermind that those with the skills to do it would not want to.
      • I don't think it is legally possible to make a 100% windows clone....nevermind that those with the skills to do it would not want to.

        Of course it is. Lest you forget, that's exactly what the Wine project [winehq.com] is, not to mention "mini clones" like the (name escapes me) product that allows MS Office to run on Linux. I'm just frustrated that no one throws a ton of money at the idea and does it "for real". Like it or not, Windows is the defacto industry standard desktop-application API.

        • Microsoft doesn't feel threatened by Wine since it doesn't run, or runs poorly, many must-have Windows programs.

          One can't use Wine as a substitute for Windows. If you needed Windows, you still need Windows and Microsoft still gets paid.
        • by JoshJ (1009085)
          Wine isn't a windows clone. It's a compatibility layer for Linux. ReactOS [reactos.org] (note: page is down as I type this) is the windows clone.
    • And what I think it comes down to particularly with Vista is that people are worried that is actually is going to turn out to be a really good OS. I haven't used it all that extensively but I have been doing application compatibility testing on it at work and so far it looks good. Revolutionary? No, but a worthwhile improvement. That seems to have a lot of people running scared.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by miffo.swe (547642)
        I dont think anyone is really afraid of that. All evidence suggests its just w2k/XP all again. Those wore also supposed to be the holy grail of computing but showed to be just minor improvements in some areas and degradation in others. I love DRM because it will drive people towards free systems. Afraid isnt the right word, rather a smug smile. The FSF etc should just ignore DRM and let Windows Vista users smack into the wall in a couple of years time. In the meen time extensive work should be done in impr
        • And just how will Vista's DRM "drive people towards free systems", by which you mean Linux? Vista's DRM support is required to play protected HD-DVDs and BR discs, but Linux won't be able to play those discs at all. As for non-DRMed content, Vista will play those just as well as any other system. So what advantage does Linux bring to the table regarding DRM? The inability to play DRMed content? *That's* going to "drive people to free systems"? Your theory makes no sense at all.
          • by Grishnakh (216268)
            Vista's DRM support is required to play protected HD-DVDs and BR discs, but Linux won't be able to play those discs at all.

            1) What makes you think very many people will even care about this? What is the current uptake of BR and HD-DVD? Not very good, from what I can see. This is because of two problems: a) No one wants to buy into a system that may very well be the next Betamax. As long as both standards exist and are incompatible with each other, both will fail. b) HD-DVD and BR don't offer anything s
          • by miffo.swe (547642)
            DRM can also be used to copy protect games and applications. It can be utterly abused by any corp you install applications from. As for HD-DVD etc, who cares? Except for a small amount of high end videophiles most people are more than satisfied with DVD. Heck, here in sweden where pirating is common most people seems very content with much lower resolutions.
    • Disclaimer: I don't hate Microsoft. I am, however, frequently annoyed by their mediocrity, and unbelievably frustrated that someone doesn't have the balls to start a company dedicated to making an absolutely, positively 100%-compatible Windows clone based on a Unix-like operating system.

      The problem is that to such a company would have to actually work on the Hard Bits; configuration, installation, maintenance, application and service interoperability...
      • The problem is that to such a company would have to actually work on the Hard Bits; configuration, installation, maintenance, application and service interoperability...

        Hence the need for balls and a deep wallet. It's incredible that VCs can throw around hundreds of millions of dollars on WebVan, but can't fund a company to take on Microsoft directly. The upside potential is monstrously huge, and Microsoft is incredibly vulnerable. What keeps Microsoft in business is their application base. How many cop

        • Nobody is going to invest in such an effort because as soon as the results show promise of making significant money or threatening Microsoft's market share, Microsoft will hit them with a broadside of patent lawsuits. Microsoft undoubtedly has thousands of patents covering modern versions of the Windows APIs. Just the relatively obsolete VFAT patent alone, which they've already enforced, would sink the "100% compatibility" goal.

          Microsoft doesn't currently bother with Wine because it is a financially insig

          • Microsoft will hit them with a broadside of patent lawsuits.

            Possibly true, and the effort will certainly need a war chest for the lawyers. However, Microsoft is vulnerable. If there's no way to get around a patent, they'll HAVE to license their patents in reasonable terms, or they'll be hit with an easy to prove antitrust suit. It's pretty clearly in the interests of the consumer to allow a competitor in the market.

            I'm not saying it would be easy, but clearly that's what the world needs.

    • by vertinox (846076)
      I am, however, frequently annoyed by their mediocrity, and unbelievably frustrated that someone doesn't have the balls to start a company dedicated to making an absolutely, positively 100%-compatible Windows clone based on a Unix-like operating system.

      Technically if you own an Intel Mac you can get Windows compatibility with Unix-like operating system with OS running Parallels.
    • frustrated that someone doesn't have the balls to start a company dedicated to making an absolutely, positively 100%-compatible Windows clone based on a Unix-like operating system.

      First, a 100%-compatible clone of Windows based on Unix is not technically possible. Such a system would have to understand Windows filesystem semantics which do not translate into Unix semantics such as locking, being unable to delete open files, and Windows ACLs which cannot map to user/group/other. (Unix has ACLs too, but I d
  • well duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:40PM (#17340304)
    The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history
    Hmmm, let's run through that cost analysis again. It took a lot longer to develop Vista and now nobody's going to buy it because of the restrictions. *gets outs his calculator* yup, that leaves em pretty far in the red. But thank God they don't have to worry about losing money from pirates for at least a few weeks until people find ways around everything.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:48PM (#17340470) Homepage Journal
    Every touted improvement in Vista exists to make Microsoft's life and the life of their media and hardware partners better and more enriched. It is not, I repeat, not for your benefit or enjoyment. Recently MS stated this would be last 'turn of the crank' for an OS like this. I agree. This is because the only logical step next would be to lease you the OS and the hardware, only, and bar you from doing anything on your own with it. Since that's not bound to fly, yet (let's see how they react to Google) then the alternative is to lock you into their content, at least.
    • Every touted improvement in Vista exists to make Microsoft's life and the life of their media and hardware partners better and more enriched ... not for your benefit or enjoyment

      The idea that no new features in Vista are there to make the end-user's life easier is trivially false. It is wrong. Look at The wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] - Speech recognition, Mail, Search, Calendar, Backup and Restore etc. etc. all seem to have nothing to do with DRM and everything to do with benefiting users (or selling more copies of vist
      • by gelfling (6534)
        I have all of those features today. There is zero need to reinvent the wheel. It used to be that MS would scour the marketplace to find companies that had interesting features to add to Windows then they would buy the company. Now MS simply reinvents what's already there, usually no better than anyone else and calls it new and improved. It's just lock in, because as I said, I already have all those features today. Buying a new PC with a new OS to give what I already have in fact is trivial. And in reality,
  • Yes, I read TFA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <{banantarr} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Friday December 22, 2006 @01:57PM (#17340624) Homepage
    I think what Microsoft is doing right now is analogous to the old practice of offering a product at a higher cost initially just so you can then negotiate down to the price you really want.

    You might claim it is apples and oranges. I think it's not. They design the product with more restrictive DRM knowing the consumer will not want ANY DRM. Then they 'listen' to the consumer by removing some, but not all of it. Thus arriving at a middle ground, but really closer to their originally planned position. This serves to possibly give them what they want while simultaneously making them look good in the eyes of the consumer.

    Of course, most intelligent consumers decry ... well why finish the sentence. "Most intelligent consumers" probably accounts for a very small percentage of the total consumer base.

    TLF
  • Peter Gutmann (Score:5, Informative)

    by starfishsystems (834319) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:05PM (#17340742) Homepage
    In case anyone doesn't already know him by reputation, Peter Gutmann [wikipedia.org] isn't just some random blogger with a grudge against Microsoft.

    Yes, he tends to be a bit outspoken at times. He's also a veteran contributor to the security field and tends to know exactly what he's talking about. So before dismissing what he has to say, you owe it to yourself to check his reasoning.

  • Sharks circling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NorbrookC (674063) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:05PM (#17340748) Journal

    In the article, he a section on the potential hazard of Vista disabling video resolution in medical imaging applications. Leaving aside any issues of playing CD's in a work computer, I can see one outcome of this. The first time a blown diagnosis can be blamed on this, the malpractice lawyers will be heading after Microsoft. It's something they've got to be salivating over: The ultimate deep pockets! (cue theme from Jaws)

  • by hirschma (187820) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:05PM (#17340754)
    Simply put, MS could have made their life a LOT easier if they had put in support for a new product class - the Media Accelerator.

    Imagine a card that had a couple of SATA interfaces, a video pass through input, and an audio pass through input. The card would have its own OS/firmware, and it'd be easy to control from an external software API.

    Unprotected input would flow into it, but only it could generate video/audio for protected media. It'd automatically substitute its own video/audio for protected stuff.

    This way, if you didn't care about "protected media", your computer and OS wouldn't be encumbered. If you did, you'd pop a couple of hundred for the Media Accelerator, and go from there.

    Of course, this would have benefited the rest of the non-MS industry, too. Guess it is a bad idea.

    jh
  • So, from what this and other articles say MS Vista is designed to
    • Lock out pirates
    • Lock out competition
    • Lock out any improved features unless 'comsumers' pay more for added feature levels or extra/compliant hardware (beyond buying the OS already)
    • Lock out hardware and software vendors that don't play ball (read as: pay $$, do what MS says)
    • Lock out adaptability (virtulization = bad)
    • Lock in purchasers

    Yep I think I think this is a true Microsoft "innivation", nothing has been as so well enginiered for us

  • Wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lethyos (408045) on Friday December 22, 2006 @02:14PM (#17340890) Journal

    Content protection in Vista will not hurt Microsoft or their sales. Two reasons for this. Consumers are not educated enough to understand digital restrictions management. They will interpret it as “just how it works” and deal with it one way or another. Claiming these impedences to copying will damage Vista is similar to claiming that content scrambling of movies will damage the DVD market. The second reason comes from established expectations. People appear used to dealing with technology not working how they want it to or think it should. Crashing computers and malware are just part of life. Pretty soon, the inability to copy files will become subject to the same perception. That is, not being able to copy media will be seen as a technical limitation or just another failing on the part of the industry. People will buy it all the same because the water is being brough to a boil slowly and we all seem to have such ridiculously short-term memories.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kyliaar (192847)
      I can see your first argument.

      What personal experiences do you have that lead you to your second?

      Consumers have expectations when they buy technology. When these expectations are not met, they usually are more than passive about dealing with the fact that what they spent their hard earned money doesn't do what they thought it should.

      This is especially true when it comes to new things. If they run into some vague technical challenge where they can not use some function or another, it will either be brought
  • Mancur Olson again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Budenny (888916) on Friday December 22, 2006 @03:01PM (#17341640)
    A classic, absolutely classic instance of the thesis which Olson demonstrated in lots of case studies.

    All special interest groups will find it in their interests to impose on society costs hundreds, thousands, millions of times greater than the benefits they receive.

    In the present case, Big Content, to protect its rents, is imposing measures which will end up costing the US and the West enormously more than any benefits to Big Content.

    But they don't care, of course, because even if we are all worse off, they are a little better off.

    And so, you discover if you examine economic history, that revolutionary convulsions every 50 years or so benefit economic performance, by abolishing encrusted priveliges of various groups. And this is why 19c France in constant turmoil outgrew 19c stable Britain. And why the post civil war South did so well in the 20c... And why Germany grew so fast in the fifties.

    And why the US is falling into paralysis today....
  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday December 22, 2006 @03:10PM (#17341770) Homepage Journal
    Think - up to this date os'es were mainly the basic framework to run programs on them. Even in that state, phletora of exploits, hacks, a million ways to hamper or exploit usage of a computer have surfaced in the last 15 years.

    Now they are putting strong elements integral to os that are able to block, modify, permit or limit usage of some elements of os, software, 3rd party software, and even hardware. They are this way decreasing the workload of hackers/exploiters - now they just need to find a way to exploit the mechanism already present there.

    Its no guessing that this will make using computers with vista both a pain in the ass, but also a security risk.
  • Competition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:22PM (#17342660) Journal
    SOOOoo...this system makes it's way out into the marketplace, and soon after, content providers are providing "high quality" deliveries via wire or disc, and for the most part, the systems slowly go through an upgrade process to conforming hardware, finally letting the "high" in quality reach the user. Balloons fall, confetti flies and whistles and claps abound - you are running a "trusted system"

      In a country far far away, a series of specifications, hardware manufacturers and technology folks band together to build the impossible: To make a machine decrypt the "high quality" content and push it to a jack. Nothing more, nothing less. They use a non-MS embedded OS and cook their scheme into an IC and viola! We have an unencumbered HD-DVD/BluRay player.

    The market for this is illegal - in certain countries. But no matter, since once tapped on the above device, said port burns a new HD-DVD/BluRay disc, without licensing scheme. Some Volks-haXXor posts code to read port, strip tags from the raw stream, and pump back into a disc. Cheers from the masses, "it's been hacked!". Said streams make their way onto existing distribution mechanisms (torrent,p2p,the corner cart downtown) and you've got (wait for it) THE STATUS QUO.

    Currently, only the tech-enlightened really got through the ever-lowering hurdles to download copyrighted content. Scare tactics and ethics keep most people in the DVD isle of the buy-it stores. I'm sure that will stay the same.

    So, we'll simply have the MS bundled-systems with their crazy bugs, people complaining and conforming media for high quality. On the flip side will be folks not so much skipping the DRM in Windows, but getting non-DRM content to begin with. Windows has simply gone the way of the yes-man for DRM enforcement, leaving you with two choices: Lower audio/video resolution or playing only proper discs. Guess what you do with your big collection of "improper" discs: Play them on Linux. It could reinforce the sentiment that "Linux is for hackers, aka criminals" but I doubt that'll fly for long.

    MS, like the media players before, will have to allow for "personal" content to be played at "high quality" eventually, since consumers are also media generators. Like now with audio, if you can get source content out of the DRM shackles, making it look personal, the entire SYSTEM from disc to monitor is bypassed quietly.

    I'm prepared for a long period of relative component stagnation, while all this DRM for Vista gets sorted out. I doubt the legacy cards and peripherals will go away anytime soon.
  • 1. There is a well-worn and completely false assumption that Microsoft is somehow -still- subject to competitive market forces. They are not. Not tomorrow, not 10 years from now. Just like the telephone company, they are not going anywhere. They will not be unseated. There's no one "coming up fast." No Apple, no Linux, no one.

    2. A windows-equipped PC taxes all computer consumers. How is that possible? Windows is sold at a monopolist's high price and this reduces the volume of computer hardware sold.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday December 22, 2006 @06:58PM (#17344302)
    You get to talk to frequently talk to lovely ladies in India and swap very long strings of digits with them. Isn't re-activation fun? And if it is a stressful day at work, just hold the phone up to your ear while you rest and tell anyone that bothers you that you are on hold with Microsoft - you should be able to get away with an hour at a time before anyone gets suspicious. What fun! Every disaster recovery plan gets to add a few hours to acoount for waiting on hold to get new activation numbers for each rebuilt system.

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