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Microsoft Windows Operating Systems Software Technology

Virtualization May Break Vista DRM 294

Posted by Zonk
from the couldn't-they-have-just-said-that dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes "An article in Computerworld posits that the reason Microsoft has flip-flopped on allowing all versions of Vista to be run in virtual machines, is that it breaks the Vista DRM beyond detection, or repair. So is every future advance in computer security and/or usability going to be held hostage to the gods of Hollywood and Digital Restrictions Management? 'Will encouraging consumer virtualization result in a major uptick in piracy? Not anytime soon, say analysts. One of the main obstacles is the massive size of VMs. Because they include the operating system, the simulated hardware, as well as the software and/or multimedia files, VMs can easily run in the tens of gigabytes, making them hard to exchange over the Internet. But DeGroot says that problem can be partly overcome with .zip and compression tools -- some, ironically, even supplied by Microsoft itself.'"
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Virtualization May Break Vista DRM

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  • devil's advocate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774)
    It would be possible for Vista's DRM to be (relatively) secure if the virtualization software also supported DRM; this potentially opens the way for Microsoft to specify some virtual environments as "acceptable" for use with the Vista home versions.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:47AM (#19625565) Journal
      Well the problem is that with virtualization. A guest OS is only as secure as its host OS. Which is why I presume that they don't want any WinXP or other machines that are lacking in the DRM department to be running Windows Vista virtual machines.

      Another potentially real problem would be that vista as an actual OS in a computer runs slow as hell. People using virtual machines to 'test' Vista would end up with an even slower crummier machine and thus taint their perceptions for the negative. Nothing kills a product faster than the good old 'Word of Mouth' and there has been plenty badmouthing of Vista by all levels of tech support (not sales people though they gotta sell those Vista pieces of crap any way they can.

      In short, the only 'acceptable' virtual environment for Vista would probably be Vista itself. They want to lock you into this crappy and crazy DRM scheme that they probably cooked up with Hollywood and hardware vendors to keep people on the upgrade treadmill indefinitely. (since if you cant watch the latest movies you need to upgrade to a computer that can run Vista, which means probably buying a whole new computer which means whole new hardware...)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Darundal (891860)
        Correction: The only acceptable virtual environment is the one in which Vista itself isn't an overdone load of junk, ATI has totally open source drivers that have full support for all of the built in features of their cards, Steve-O Ballmer wins the US a gold Olympic medal for chair tossing, a car with a built in label saying "Kia" isn't a mistake (in every sense of the word), George Bush actually decides to place partisanship aside and actually work with congress, and pigs fly. In that order.
      • Re:devil's advocate (Score:5, Informative)

        by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo@mac.SLACKWAREcom minus distro> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @03:00AM (#19626095) Homepage Journal

        Another potentially real problem would be that vista as an actual OS in a computer runs slow as hell. People using virtual machines to 'test' Vista would end up with an even slower crummier machine and thus taint their perceptions for the negative. Nothing kills a product faster than the good old 'Word of Mouth' and there has been plenty badmouthing of Vista by all levels of tech support (not sales people though they gotta sell those Vista pieces of crap any way they can.

        I have as much reason to hate MS's operating systems as the next guy. No, scratch that, I have vastly more reason to hate MS's OS's than the next guy, having watched them attempt to undermine and destroy OS/2 back in the early 90's, back before it become fashionable to hate MS OS's. I remember having to put up with the constantly shifting Win32s extensions for Windows 3.1, which were modified for the sole purpose of breaking OS/2 compatibility. Or their (then new) "per-processor license agreements". I haven't run a Windows machine as my desktop since 1992, having run OS/2, Linux, and Mac OS X (in that order) since that time.

        As such, it really pains me greatly to say -- Vista under virtualization is surprisingly decent and well behaved. I've been running the 64-bit Business Edition of Vista inside VMware Fusion on a new 2.16Ghz Core 2 Duo MacBook with 2GB of RAM, and it's surprisingly quick and agile. Sure, I don't get Aero (which just looks bad to me anyhow -- honestly, how is an alpha-blended window title a good thing?), and I'm not using it to play games, and I don't use it to browse the web or do e-mail or digital media, but overall it has been very well behaved, and has been surprisingly quick to boot and run. I've even experimented with it running digital video, and the performance has been very good.

        Now of course, I can see why they'd be worried about their DRM stance. As the VMware audio and video go through a virtualized driver/device to the Mac's hardware, it would be easy to use readily available tools to hijack the stream (like Rogue Amoeba's excellent Audio Hijack Pro [rogueamoeba.com].

        Now there is no way in hell I'd ever run Windows as my primary OS -- still think their UI scheme is garbage, and don't like the fact they have both systematically loaded their systems with crap to appease other corporations while punishing their own end-users (DRM), and that they've frequently promised features they've never delivered (anyone else remember when they promised a stand-alone MS-DOS v7? Or when they promised an OODBMS-based filesystem for Cairo starting back in 1996? That same filesystem they didn't deliver with Vista? Or how about when they finally decided it was time to introduce a new filesystem for the 9X line that instead of using a well-designed FS they owned all the rights to, like HPFS or NTFS, they instead exacerbated the problem with a band-aid solution and invented FAT32?). It's still not what I look for in a desktop OS, but as much as it pains me to say it, on a modern machine (and the latest MacBook is hardly top-of-the-line, although it's certainly quite a capable system), under virtualization, Vista actually runs pretty acceptably. If I had to use it as my day-to-day system (and I don't use it much at all -- it's there to support a development toolset for some embedded programming I'm peripherally involved in), it certainly wouldn't be slow or painful to use -- it's instantly responsive, and has so far behaved very well (i.e.: it hasn't crashed yet).

        Strange but true.

        Yaz.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by WarJolt (990309)
        Microsoft has made all their money striking deals with hardware manufacturers. As soon as you use a VM Microsoft loses control. What can Microsoft do that other OSes can't? I'm pretty sure more hardware is supported by windows then any other OS.
        • by Dan Ost (415913)
          It's my understanding that Linux supports more hardware than any OS, but a lot of that hardware is pretty specific-use stuff that no consumer is interested in. Most consumer hardware has vendor-written drivers for windows at time of release and Linux gains support later.

          Windows does have the edge in consumer hardware, but with the exception of high end 3D video acceleration, Linux has excellent support for at least one major player in each consumer hardware category (which is why Linux is now a real contend
      • by gmplague (412185) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:14AM (#19627991) Homepage

        Well the problem is that with virtualization. A guest OS is only as secure as its host OS. Which is why I presume that they don't want any WinXP or other machines that are lacking in the DRM department to be running Windows Vista virtual machines.
        This is the problem that "Trusted Computing" is supposed to solve. The TCG (formerly TCPA) has an entire architecture for this laid out, that enables a "trusted boot" process, in which only a computer (or platform in TCG parlance) which has exactly the right hardware and boots exactly the right BIOS, bootloader, and OS in exactly the right sequence is allowed access to certain content, DRM keys, etc.

        This system does have a number of problems (and in its current state is still victim to virtualization), and as mentioned above is very difficult to implement, but Microsoft and others are pushing very hard to make it work.
    • by eonlabs (921625) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:38AM (#19625791) Journal
      Clearly, all these problems would be solved if the RIAA and MPAA sued Microsoft over their use of zip compression and its aiding in the piracy of audio... :D
      Damn that's hard to say with a straight face.
    • "It would be possible for Vista's DRM to be (relatively) secure if the virtualization software also supported DRM; this potentially opens the way for Microsoft to specify some virtual environments as "acceptable" for use with the Vista home versions."

      Most likely, this could be defeated by simply adding an additional layer of virtualization beyond the said "approved" virtual machine hosting the OS in question. This is actually not unlike some theoretical viruses proposed a while back that would install thems
      • Re:Nesting VMs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @04:06AM (#19626321)
        DRM is really one of the core components of Vista. It makes virtualization easier to defeat than you may realize. Go look up Palladium, renamed "Trusted Computing". It's hardware level authentication and software access control, and it's specifically designed to weld host authentication to file access. Those keys are hardware stored, on the motherboard, not software stored. And the encryption chips or CPU based encryption is not directly accessible to emulation, not without paying a genuinely unacceptable performance penalty in use.
        • by Sique (173459)
          I thought the point in Virtualization would be that there is NO direct hardware access, instead every system call to the hardware is caught and evaluated in an emulation? So even Palladium had to be virtualized.

          So that creates two possible scenarios:

          1. No software emulation of Palladium ever gets signed by the Palladium consortium, and thus every check against a Palladium key fails. Thus no stuff (DRM or otherwise) relying on Palladium runs in the VM.
          2. There is an emulation of Palladium that gets a valid c
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Virtualizing Palladium is non-trivial. Like most encryption technologies, it's designed to be computationally expensive, which makes emulation awkward for file-based decryptions, and will make doing it in emulation painful indeed. Also, numerous of its technologies are patented: this makes it very difficult indeed to get it built into licensed software form the US, or to import commercial software that supports it.

            Second, Palladium is based on phoning back to the mother ship. *Every single Palladium key* is
    • by Eustace Tilley (23991) <6wdasttjcc@snkmail.com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @08:05AM (#19627139) Journal
      You are mistaken. DRM cannot be secure.

      The task is "allow A to send a message to B such that B can read it, but C cannot."

      Under DRM, B and C are the same person.

      Q.E.D.

      The claim that a process will allow a customer to manage digital rights are akin to claims that a chemical process will allow a customer to change lead to gold. They are the claims of a fool, a charlatan, a newborn, or someone desperate. Or a devil's advocate.
  • Said before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:05AM (#19625355) Journal
    Encryption allows Alice to send a message to Bob that can't be viewed by Jack. The problem with DRM is it uses encryption such that Bob and Jack are the same person.

    Think about it.

    Alice (the publisher of the song) is using encryption to ensure that you and only you (Bob) can recieve the message. But Jack (also you) is being prevented from viewing the message.

    The only reason that DRM is making any kind of headway is because of the hand-waving around terms like "dual key cryptography" and "license management". When you get right down to it, the content producers exist to deliver content to me. Once I get it, the only thing limiting my distribution of that content is legal in nature - I'm afraid of getting sued or prosecuted, so I don't.

    Speakers can be recorded, screens can be videotaped. DRM can make it more difficult to copy content, but it will NEVER make it impossible. And the sad part is, DRM frequently makes it more difficult to VIEW content legitimately.

    As a good example, I just set up a Windows XP laptop for one of my sales associates. I spent an ungodly amount of time going thru "Genuine Advantage" this and "Genuine" that, along with some dozen or more reboots. It's riduculously annoying, especially when updating a new CentOS system takes a single line:


    yum -y update; shutdown -r now;


    Microsoft has it wrong, and it may well be their undoing to find this out.
    • Re:Said before (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Workaphobia (931620) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:48AM (#19625573) Journal
      > "Encryption allows Alice to send a message to Bob that can't be viewed by Jack. The problem with DRM is it uses encryption such that Bob and Jack are the same person."

      That's an extremely common view (as said in your comment title), but it's not true. Bob is your television, and you are Jack. I don't care how much cybernetics has progressed, we're not televisions yet, and we as human beings can't assimilate, store, and regurgitate digital content with any kind of quality.

      > "Speakers can be recorded, screens can be videotaped."

      Both are analog holes. If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy, and thus not in a position to compete with the real thing. Do you want to pirate an mpeg of some guy taping his television screen, or do you want to bittorrent the actual dvd contents? In the absense of the availablity of the dvd on bittorrent, would you be more inclined to buy the material? (For this paragraph, forget that you are a geek when I use words such as "quality" and when I presume you're a pirate - I'm talking about average users).

      > "DRM can make it more difficult to copy content, but it will NEVER make it impossible."

      Doesn't need to.

      Or to frame the absurdity of that argument in an analogy that I feel works well: "Police can make it difficult to commit crimes (and not get caught), but they'll never make it impossible. Therefore we police are futile. When will they learn?"

      > "And the sad part is, DRM frequently makes it more difficult to VIEW content legitimately."

      No argument. We should be thankful that they have as difficult a time picking a DRM standard as they do. Fragmentation impedes their progress in locking everything down: CDs versus DVDs for instance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcrbids (148650)
        That's an extremely common view (as said in your comment title), but it's not true. Bob is your television, and you are Jack. I don't care how much cybernetics has progressed, we're not televisions yet, and we as human beings can't assimilate, store, and regurgitate digital content with any kind of quality.

        But it's not hard to create a rig that does.

        Both are analog holes. If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy,

        Many audiophiles would disagree with you, and would argue that analog presents the be
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by node 3 (115640)
          Wow, are you secretly trying to *promote* DRM by making the anti-DRM argument look retarded?

          But it's not hard to create a rig that does [capture DRM limited digital data].

          Then where is all this hardware? How do you plan to capture HDCP content with a "not hard to create rig"? The whole point is that DRMing the whole system leaves only analog methods, or exploiting flaws.

          Many audiophiles would disagree with you, and would argue that analog presents the best "true" copy.

          So an analog copy of a digital file is superior to a *perfect*digital*copy*? How did that make enough sense to you for you to type this?

          See above points - it's not some guy with a camcorder of his TV, it's the "pro-sumer" guy who has good quality equipment that can kill DRM.

          How? Ok, you get your HD cam out and record a plasma screen viewing of a Blu-ra

          • Re:Said before (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:50AM (#19626667) Journal

            . It gets around DRM, but people will still want the superior DRMed version.


            The millions of people pirating 128kbit crummy sounding MP3s and horribly compressed DivX copies of movies would seemingly be in complete disagreement with that statement. People downloading pirated content don't care so much about quality. Those who care about quality tend to also be the kind of people who also prefer legitimate copies, DRM or not.
          • Re:Said before (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:55AM (#19626687)

            How? Ok, you get your HD cam out and record a plasma screen viewing of a Blu-ray disc. This is going to "kill drm"? No, this is going to result in poorer quality. This poorer copy is not going to kill drm. It gets around DRM, but people will still want the superior DRMed version.
            Have you looked at any of the DVD rips floating around the net? 99.99% are reduced quality from the original. Most of the time it is a full-blown re-encode down to ~700MB (size of one CD), if you are lucky it is re-encoded down to 1.4GB (size of 2 CDs) and if you are in the midst of quality freaks, then it is just re-encoded down to 4.3GB (size of a single-layer DVD).

            At the rate technology is progressing, somebody with a HD projector, a HD camcorder and a few extra lenses and filters will be able to do an analog capture that easily satisfies the average guy with a 50" LCD display.

            It sure helps that even today all of the satellite HD signals are highly degraded, often re-encoding from 1920x1080 to 1280x1080 and the vast majority of the viewers don't give a damn. Even the broadcast networks do shitty job, Fox is bitrate starved for no good reason, running their stuff at roughly 10Mbps when the available bandwidth over the air is just under 20Mbps. NBC and ABC are only a little bit better. Only CBS seems to give a crap about the quality of their broadcasts.

            So, either consumer standards are going to have get a LOT higher or pricing on DRM'd products is going to have get a LOT cheaper if they want to compete with the quality level available via "free."

            All that assumes that no bored grad students ever take an electron-tunneling microscope to the "tamper-proof" chips in these DRM systems and extracts the keys necessary to do the decrypt at the digital level. Nowadays that's not particularly expensive to do.
          • by bit01 (644603)

            Because for the first time, virtually any copyrighted work can be perfectly copied at the click of a button, and distributed with close to zero effort.

            This applies equally to the vendor. Nothing stopping them improving the efficiency of their distribution channels to match pirates.

            Copying is a tool; it applies equally to vendor, consumer, pirate, whatever and does not suddenly justify DRM which messes the balance by making the average citizen guilty until proven innocent.

            ---

            DRM'ed content breaks

          • by arevos (659374)

            DRM makes piracy *harder*. Not impossible, just harder, and that's all it takes to be effective.

            The problem with DRM is that it's not only effective at slowing piracy, it's effective at locking consumers out of their own content.

            I'd disagree with this. The cost of breaking DRM is a one time fee for pirates; once an unprotected version of the data has been released, the proverbial genie is out of the proverbial bottle. Large content holders, like the organisations that make up the MPAA, want the benefits of distributing their data across a large range of devices, and to the greatest possible proportion of the public, whilst trying to keep a small set of keys secret and hidden. We have problems securing even dedicated data centres f

          • Re:Said before (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @09:39AM (#19627529) Homepage
            "Because for the first time, virtually any copyrighted work can be perfectly copied at the click of a button, and distributed with close to zero effort. Without DRM, you could make a fully perfect copy of an HD movie in less than an hour. Prior to mass-market digital technology, it took a lot of time and/or a lot of money to make a copy of something, and that copy was almost certainly going to be of lesser quality, and distribution beyond people you have physical contact with was quite expensive and/or time consuming."

            So your saying that, new technology exists which makes distribution of content much cheaper...
            And yet content producers want to charge the same or more for this cheaper to distribute content? While also restricting the customer more than they did with earlier distrbution methods? It looks like their business model is becoming obsolete, and theyre just trying to shore it up by restricting their own customers.

            Why not sell a product/service that cannot be easily reproduced, such that your actually providing value for money... Movies shown in a cinema spring to mind, the cost of a cinema size screen and sound system is beyond the means of most people. And then there's live concerts for music.
            You cant clone a live concert, because you cannot produce exact replicas of the artists (yet?) and the cost of setting up a bootleg cinema would be too high to be worth the hassle.
            If you want to sell movies on dvd, they need to be priced such that copying them is not viable, and yes that is possible. Movie companies have access to factories where DVDs are mass produced at a cost of 1 or 2 cents each, no pirate group would be able to obtain blank media that cheaply, let alone the time and effort needed to write to it.

            In short, piracy only exists because the original media is disproportionately priced compared to its production cost. DRM exists not as a solution to piracy, but as a method to wring more money out of their paying customers.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by node 3 (115640)

              So your saying that, new technology exists which makes distribution of content much cheaper...

              Yes, I am. I can get a $2,000.00 computer shipped to me from across the planet for $40. That does not mean the computer should cost $40.

              A film (or CD, or book, or whatever), costs something to create, costs something to manufacture, costs something to promote, and costs something to ship. Due to technology, the highlighted items are, or can be, very close to zero (cents, or fractions of cents). The other costs still exist.

              The problem is that, once the other costs are paid, *anyone* can just step in and per

        • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @07:23AM (#19626993) Homepage

          The advantage of digital for piracy is not that you can get a perfect copy. Perfection is not the goal in piracy. In many cases a camcorder shooting a screen is fine. Instead, the advantage of digital is that the quality is not degraded further as an infinite number of generations are made. Traditional pirates were limited to making 2 to 5 generations of VHS tapes because after that, almost nothing was left of the original movie. But an analog ripped (not cracked) MPEG file can be traded all over the world without any further single bit errors (although some of that will happen at times). The internet scares the content industry because of the speed (the latest release can be in the hands of millions before the big opening). Digital scares them because it enables the multi generational sharing as we already see in P2P. The problem is, they are fixated on encryption, which is at best going to prevent the average Joe from making a perfect copy and sharing with his neighbor across the street. When Joe finally figures out how to make an analog rip or just shoots it off his screen with a camcorder, his neighbor might reject it because it's not perfect, but you can bet the world will eat it up via the internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by physicsnick (1031656)

        Both are analog holes. If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy, and thus not in a position to compete with the real thing. Do you want to pirate an mpeg of some guy taping his television screen, or do you want to bittorrent the actual dvd contents?

        Hi, I live in Canada. Recently, the MPAA has banned pre-screenings in theaters across *our entire country* because they think they lose too much business to camrips done in Canada.

        Take a look at this: http://www.torrentspy.com/search?query=cam [torrentspy.com]

        There are thousands upon thousands of people pirating some guy taping the movie theater screen. Yes, people really do want to watch camrips. If DVDs couldn't be digitally ripped, then people would just tape their TVs, and pirates would absolutely download that;

      • Apt analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rix (54095)
        The police analogy is more apt than I think you realize. Like all victimless crimes, it's nearly impossible to enforce, because there's no one to complain to police.
        • by Ravnen (823845)
          You can't say copyright violation is a victimless crime, and remain both rational and honest in your argumentation. Reflecting the broader views of the socieities which have ratified it, the Berne Convention [wipo.int] (BC) recognises both economic and moral rights of a copyright holder.

          The economic rights of a copyright holder have long been recognised throughout the West, but moral rights are less clear. They have been recognised in continental Europe since the late 19th century, with the BC dating from 1886, but

      • by dangitman (862676)

        Both are analog holes. If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy,

        This is clearly nonsense. It's entirely possible to make a quality analog recording. How do you think they made music recordings before digital audio? That's right, they used analog magnetic tape, which can asound much better than the digital audio on a CD. How do you think they made those "digitally remastered" CD editions of Dark Side of the Moon? They used the analog master tapes, of course.

        Likewise, motion picture film is ana analog medium, and it has far greater quality than even digital High Defini

      • by swilver (617741)

        Both are analog holes. If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy, and thus not in a position to compete with the real thing.

        Actually, you are wrong here. Analog copying could be a problem when in the process an analog copy was made multiple times and the content would degrade a bit further each time. However, the first analog copy will be more than acceptable (and might well be indistinguishable from the original by a set of viewers doing a double blind test).

        So, if you can make a good analog

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vic-traill (1038742)

        . If it's not a digital copy, it's not a quality copy, and thus not in a position to compete with the real thing. Do you want to pirate an mpeg of some guy taping his television screen, or do you want to bittorrent the actual dvd contents? In the absense of the availablity of the dvd on bittorrent, would you be more inclined to buy the material?

        A programme I attended at a Canadian east coast university had high international enrollment. One of the guys was from Chechnya. We had a pretty good instructional technology setup in one of the lecture spaces, so we could snag a movie off the Internet and take a break at two in the morning to watch said movie while scarfing popcorn and pop.

        We had End of Days* up on the screen one early morning when the Chechnyan Dude comes in and exclaims that 'this is like going to the theatre back home!'. The movie

    • by lullabud (679893) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:50AM (#19625835) Homepage

      As a good example, I just set up a Windows XP laptop for one of my sales associates. I spent an ungodly amount of time going thru "Genuine Advantage" this and "Genuine" that, along with some dozen or more reboots. It's ridiculously annoying...

      Being a generous IT worker, when an employee's machine goes bad I'll sometimes give them my own machine if they need something fast. Last time I did this, a copy of Vista which I purchased directly from Microsoft's website suddenly became "not genuine". Not wanting to fuss with it, hoping I'd be able to get my machine back and make my copy of Vista genuine again, I ended up passing the time frame (30 days?) allotted for using the OS, then was locked out with a red screen saying "this copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Business is not genuine". This statement was clearly a lie if taken literally, but discussing vocabulary destruction through marketing would be quite a digression.

      So, I went back to using my dual-boot linux partition and another spare PC for my day-to-day work.

      Fast forward a few weeks...

      Last Friday I got my laptop back, put the hard disk back in, and what's this? Vista still said it was not genuine. I tried to re-activate online but it said I couldn't do that because that key had already been activated. (Gee, you think? Maybe when I bought it?) So, taking the only course left, I called Microsoft on the phone and entered a series of numbers about 30 digits long. When the computer couldn't validate my install it forwarded me to some Indian call center, a place I'm familiar with because I've had to do this process more than a few times.

      But this time was different... (Don't get your hopes up, it wasn't different in a good way. I was on the phone with a Microsoft offshore call center, remember?) Not only was my personal system down, but apparently their whole call center system was down. They were unable to validate my install and told me I'd need to call back later after they got their system back up and running. Apparently there was no other backup call center online, I simply had to hang up and call back another time when their system was back up.

      Back to my trusty dual-boot Linux partition with its `sudo bash -c 'apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && reboot'`, or my Mac with its `sudo bash -c 'softwareupdate -i -a && reboot'`

      Oh, and Jim Allchin can kiss my ass. "It's rock solid and we're ready to ship." Rock solid as in paper weight. What good is a stable OS that won't let you use it?
      • by KwKSilver (857599)

        What good is a stable OS that won't let you use it?

        It should be pretty good for Microsoft's bottom line. If they can force you and eveyone else to rebuy their "O/S" 3 to 6 times over the lifetime of the box/lapbox at $100-400 or more, how can that not help MS's bottom line. That ought to make the stock analysts and the Mini-microsofts of the world happy. Besides, think of Steve Ballmer's starving children! You want them to be warped for life because they don't have two different Mercedes-Benz cars for e

      • I think you misspelled:

        sudo -H -c "yum update"

        You reboot only if the kernel changes.
      • by Ant P. (974313)
        Same thing happened to my XP Home install a few years ago. I installed SP2, rebooted, instantly lost access to my legit Windows installation.
        I didn't bother fixing it, just booted into whatever distro I had installed at the time (I think it was Slack 9) and got all my important stuff off the windows partition. Then I turned it into swapspace.
    • by nmb3000 (741169)
      yum -y update; shutdown -r now;

      Slightly off-topic, but I'd suggest changing that to yum -y update && shutdown -r now. Using "&&" in leiu of ";" will prevent the system from rebooting if the call to yum isn't successful (can't contact a server, whatever). On many systems you can even replace "shutdown -r now" with simply "reboot".
    • Re:Said before (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Charcharodon (611187) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @06:46AM (#19626849)
      The Genuine Advantage always seemed like a $100 fix to a $5 problem. I don't understand why they just don't offer the customers at retail they same price they offer companies like Dell for the license or even something at 2-3x times the price. You would find people a lot less willing to pirate Windows if it costs $40 instead of $220. They could get rid of all those people they have for licensing support and whole sections of their software engineers, I'm sure that would make up a large portion of the $180 difference licensing price.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:10AM (#19625387)
    Why would the file have to be so large? There's no need to exchange the entire VM file... just swap the key file which is produced after authentication. To explain, if two VMs are set up as identical (e.g. same HDD size, same virtual processor, same virtual RAM, same video card, etc.) they will produce the same hardware "hash". Once an authentic software ID has been used to unlock the first file, a file will be written to disk which contains an encrypted signature which authenticates the software and thus "unlocks" it. That same key, copied elsewhere to an otherwise identical environment, will also authenticate the other environment. Put another way, one key will unlock them both.

    I'm sure there's a legal use for this. I just can't think of one...
  • No way (Score:4, Funny)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:13AM (#19625399)
    Will encouraging consumer virtualization result in a major uptick in piracy?

    No way. I told my mom and my aunt not to trade those VMs and they listen to me.

    I don't want to see them in jail.
  • Want DRM free computing???

    www.ubuntu.com
  • by earlymon (1116185) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:33AM (#19625489) Homepage Journal
    I believe that there's more to Microsoft's dislike of VM than simply DRM, and I think that they're hoping to be shielded by a bit of DRM FUD.

    Last year I was in Taiwan running WinXP under VirtualPC - with the appropriate upgrades after Microsoft had bought the product from its creators - and I had zero trouble.

    This year, I'm in Taiwan again, but this time I'm running WinXP under Parallels. Shortly after my use of the machine here on the internet, I got this message telling me that my hardware had significantly changed since the original installation and that I needed to re-validate - I don't recall the rest of the message, but it involved Genuine Advantage and suggestions of unusability. So, even though I'm not carrying my original box around with the keycode (would you??), I decided to be brave and tapped on the warning from the tray as instructed. Took me right to an MS page at what appeared to be Microsoft-Taiwan, and it was quite persistent that I should continue to be routed to some Chinese language page. Long story short, I got some embedded wizard launched, got the MS phone number for the USA (Bangalore notwithstanding), called in, got re-validated and woot, woot, woot.

    It seems - very strongly to me - that the only thing that Microsoft could have detected was my location in a way that didn't make sense to them, and I think I triggered something that decided I had a pirated copy. I really haven't had any use of my machine or anything change in any other way to cause me to suspect anything else.

    So, how long before business travellers - and we fill a lot of 747s, virtually all running Windows - picking up VM for one reason or another start pitching fits when they discover that they can go into a full-screen presentation and be tagged publicly as potential software pirates?

    I couldn't understand why MS had a real problem with Vista under VM, but if the cause I posited is in fact true, then the problem Microsoft is worried about goes back to the XP codebase. Say anything about Vista's new codebase, but it's all from the same company..... so, I think DRM is a specious explanation but it allows them to hide behind something where they can try to claim some innocence regarding VM - when in fact the OS may be more seriously broken w.r.t. VM than they're admitting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Keeper (56691)
      Virtual machines are not emulators, and the non-virtualized "hardware" is not the same across VM software. Windows activation keys off of a number of hardware components, and it shouldn't come as a shock when different VMs running on different pieces of hardware "look" like completely different pieces of hardware to the software running in it.
      • by myxiplx (906307)
        I thought the whole point of VMware was that it made the virtual machines hardware independant. One of the benefits of it is that if a server dies you can replace it with anything and can still run the original image without having to reinstall drivers, etc...
    • by DannyO152 (544940)
      Maybe Microsoft's problem with virtualization is that Microsoft is behind and so, and I don't where they learned this trick, they are using their licensing to slow down the market until they have things in place.
    • by orin (113079)
      Not sure why this was modded insightful, but as someone who has travelled and used Virtual Machines under Parallels, VMWare and Virtual PC/Server in Australia, Japan and Russia I know that you don't get a reactivation trigger from changing location. If location changes triggered reactivation, it would happen to the host OS as well as any virtualized OS. You can get a reactivation trigger if you switch VM software. For example, if you take a Virtual PC image and open it in VMWare. Also be careful about swit
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:39AM (#19625529) Journal

    These jerks think they define popular culture. They don't.

    DRM doesn't work. [freshdv.com] People steal the stuff before it's encoded with the DRM. The key is always distributed with the content or recoverable.

    DRM can't work. [wikipedia.org] Their attempts are hilarious. In order to be perceived by a human it has to be rendered in analog format, at which point capturing and encoding it in an open format is trivial in all cases.

    DRM shouldn't work. [blogspot.com] If they won't sell me the content for the device I want to play it on when I want to play it where I want to play it, I'll convert it [blogspot.com] and to hell with what they think I should be allowed to do. Fair use.

    DRM is a security risk. [slashdot.org] I will not surrender control of my PC to render your content.

    The more they annoy people, the more visibility worthy indie acts [harveydanger.com] get. People will listen to their popmart derivative garbage less [magnatune.com].

    I am personally opposed to straight pirating the stuff but I have to admit my conviction on the subject is wavering at this point.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fade-in (839519)
      Doesn't it strike you as interesting the way these fat white CEOs address piracy the same way the Bush administration addresses terrorism?

      Did I say interesting? I meant scary.
  • by Mr Jazzizle (896331) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:44AM (#19625551)
    I use "Microsoft Plus! Analog Recorder" to record albums from Yahoo! Unlimited with the cable from line-out to line-in trick, effectively ignoring Microsoft DRM with their own software.
  • Microsoft feels it has covered its baases. It owns the user base and it must move forward locking out any possible competitor. So they chase the chimera of secure distribution. At some point we can only hope linux's usability and market share provides a real challenge.
  • by gig (78408) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:51AM (#19625587)
    > So is every future advance in computer security and/or usability going to be held hostage to the gods of Hollywood
    > and Digital Restrictions Management?

    Microsoft has nothing to do with Hollywood. There are waiters in Hollywood who have forgotten more about movies than anyone at Microsoft will ever know. Even the accountants use Macs here in California.

    Microsoft does not even make a movie player that plays the standard format. Calling Windows Media Player or Zune a movie player is like saying Microsoft Word is a Web browser because it can also display text and images. That is a very unsophisticated view that you can't sell to someone who actually knows how the Web works. Well, in Hollywood, they know how movies work. MPEG-4 was coming for many years, then it was standardized, then it became the format in iTunes+iPod, then the iPod took off. MPEG-4 is also HD DVD and Blu-Ray and AppleTV and iPhone and PSP. MPEG-4 is also the standardization of the QuickTime format which all the content creation tools are built around, even those like Avid that compete with Apple, so it arrived already having mature development tools. One day there was a QuickTime update and all of my tools could now generate MPEG-4 H.264 as if they had always known what it was. Further there is a free open source MPEG-4 streaming server that runs on every Unix and also Windows, it also has no streaming tax. Finally, most of all, MPEG-4 has no "content tax" while Microsoft's Windows Media business model depends on a content tax and everybody in both music and movie industry already knows better than that. All this happened already with sheet music and player pianos 100 years ago. Nobody is going to use an encoder that spits out a file which you can't copy or share without paying a tax to Microsoft, because everybody wants their movie or album to sell 100 million copies (even if it actually has no chance) so when Microsoft says aw it's only a penny per copy, people do the math and say no you are raping me with that, I can buy an MPEG-4 encoder for $20 and use it to make all the copies I want and not owe anybody anything why don't I just do that? And MPEG-4 just happens to already be integrated into all my tools and integrated into the hardware of consumer video playback so there was never any there there with Microsoft and movies. Even if they built a technically sound system or one that had a cost advantage, they would have to overcome the fact that nobody wants to work with the evil typewriter company.

    All you are seeing here is another way that Windows sucks. Core computing functionality that customers use and want and even need to stabilize their Windows software on a real operating system is falling victim to Microsoft's lack of focus and hopeless star fucking. Why isn't Windows ready to be a good typewriter today? Because of its magic DRM.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Gallech (804178)
      Well, I'm not a waiter in Hollywood, but I do have a few firing neurons, so...

      > MPEG-4 has no "content tax"

      Really? How about that licensing fee that all MPEG-4 use requires [wikipedia.org]? The folks who own the MPEG-4 patents fully intend to make you pay for their use. Personally, I'd call that a "content tax", since anyone who sells an encoder or any device that embeds an MPEG-4 decoder (E.G.: a BluRay player) has to pay it.

      > there is a free open source MPEG-4 streaming server

      Really? I'd love to know what it's
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285)
      The windows machines as typewriter is an interesting analogy. Certainly for the majority or the population, it is a best a typewriter, while in reality it has become a way to download pron, either pictures of cats or pictures of naked people, depending on what floats your boat. But for business, mostly it just types memos, or enter sales orders, or the like. A few people use a vertical application like Autocad or some other historical MS only tool.

      What I find most interesting about the analogy though,

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jez9999 (618189)
        This just sounds wrong. You said you can use computers for free at the library... so computer+word processor = better typewriter. Assuming you also have it attached to a printer. Personally, I find the most annoying part of using public computers to be printing stuff out. There's invariably a per-page fee, and a complex system of topping up your 'account', all because a few utter morons would otherwise abuse the system. Sigh. Screw utter morons.
  • BZZZT! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by superbus1929 (1069292) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:56AM (#19625611) Homepage
    Saying it's because of what the MAFIAA will say is a fucking cop-out. Why would you want anyone to virtualize your $100 - $400 operating system when they can just buy a new one? Especially with their Draconian licensing agreements. They want to pass the buck, plain and simple, and the MPAA/RIAA are more than willing to take that buck and run with it.

    "Content provider revolt" is a pitiful excuse that no one with a brain really buys.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:25AM (#19625747)
    I was originally floored by the amount of hardware required to run Vista. So now with all the eye candy brought on in Vista, I was wondering...

    "What could MSFT do next to require me to once again throw out my computer and buy the latest and greatest hardware in 2008 or 2009?"

    Virtualization. MSFT Vista 4.0 or 3.51 or 95/98 or 2009... Would require:

    Min of 1GB of RAM.
    1TB HD (supplied by FibreChannel disk).
    Quad Core CPU
    Dual Core GPU.

    All I wanted was to be able to surf the web and play Civ. I now require the computational power of an IBM p590.

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      Using &&, if yum errored out because your internet is down, you dont reboot your system needlessly.

      You were floored because by a ~1Ghz P3, 768M RAM and a $30 video card ? A ~6 year old PC you can get basically for free because companies throw them out ? Specs that are basically the same as those for equivalent OSes ?

  • I thought the article might have something to do with virtualizing HDCP to fool Vista-VM into thinking the DVR connected to it was a proper protected video path. Now that would have been interesting.
  • by azav (469988)
    Who is DeGroot? His name appeared in the article without ever mentioning who he was.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:55AM (#19625859) Journal

    Ok, you've got many PCs most of which run Windows XP [nytimes.com]. They've been crashing every Exploit Wednesday [windowsitpro.com] since October. Every one has a license that was paid for three times (six times under Software Assurance [microsoft.com]). You have seventeen core apps. Some of them are paid for several times. Some have a licensing server so that some people can use them when other people aren't, and come with a utility so that priority users can kick off nonpriority users. A couple of them are free. Four of them are nagware that came with your PCs or that you thought were a good idea at the time. One is an in-house app that only runs in a DOS box and accesses dBase files stored on your server. Every month a couple get pwned [theregister.co.uk] for no detectable reason.

    Even if they don't run Windows [theregister.co.uk] you've paid over and over. You have to because they've made it happen what "enforcement" will happen if you don't. [microsoft.com]

    Every software vendor you buy from makes it clear the software you bought is being split [symantecstore.com] into "basic" versions that include most of the features you use, and an "Enterprise" version that includes must have features you can't live without. Both new versions will be annual subscriptions instead of purchases. Naturally, the Premium version you require will cost many times what you already paid and the cost will be annual rather than once each. Of course they're entitled to this conversion of your purchase into a "revenue stream" because they've upgraded their product from an application to a "platform framework" that "optimizes" your "TCO".

    You're thinking about investigating this multicore thing that people are talking about, but it seems impossible to reconcile the software licenses with multiple "cores" on one or more CPUs. You want to do server consolidation, but every server app has to be evaluated both by a professional enginner and by a hideously expensive team of lawyers who also want to audit every piece of software you've purchased since 1974. Your CPA wants to know why you licensed the same software 3-6 times for each PC, and why you're buying licenses for software that won't run on the PCs they're purchased for. And what's this entry for "SCO Linux licenses"? You live in dread of being audited [com.com] by jack-booted thugs, [bsa.org] not because you're pirating but because the danger of a paperwork snafu that destroys your budget is nearly certain and the slightest discrepancy is going to get you canned.

    I have one question: What the hell are you thinking? Get off the train to crazy town. The free stuff [ubuntu.com] isn't just good, it's better. So much better that you're not going to believe you put up with this crap. If it's truly free you don't have to account for each copy/user/use/year/processor/incidence. It's not free because it's less worthy: it's free because you're not the first person to be disgusted by the experience you're having. Pay for support. Nobody ever got sued for terminating their support contract. Figure it out. The world has changed. The future is open.

    • by jimicus (737525)
      Firstly, let me say that I agree with more or less everything you said.

      Though you did miss out the bit that the wording of most commercial software licenses is incredibly hard to follow - I sincerely believe that 90% of them are written by lawyers who are briefed to make sure it's practically impossible to understand them, much less follow them to the letter.

      However, there remains just one practical problem: IT works for the business, not the other way around.

      When you have a free, real alternative to Sage M
  • by QX-Mat (460729) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @07:09AM (#19626941)
    Gah.

    Is stupidity abound or something? The comment from the article about copying multi gigabyte images is ludicrous and makes one ask if the guy has ever used a VM let alone knows anything about the basics of DRM.

    First things firsts. Virtualization means that the physical hardware and virtual hardware are not linked. That means, in no simpler language, if you want to use a TV, monitor recording device or whatnot to view your VM: you can, and the VM doesn't know. This is a technological threat to DRM implementations inside a VM, because they cant guarentee the path outside the VM.

    Why you would copy potentially dangerous VM images from one PC to another when you could simple capture the output, i don't know.

    Once upon a time NES ROM carts implemented their own I/O multiplexing - the vast majority still aren't emulated today because it's tedious work. Guest OSes inside VMs will continue to find ways of obfuscating their data (after all the guest inside a VM doesn't even have to be the same architecture as the host!)... its anybody's game once you're outside of the Guest.

    MS don't want people to virtualize their software for the same reason DRM is a CEOs best friend: they can charge more for less restrictions.

    If you have to pay $100 extra for the Ultimate or Pro versions of Vista to get virtualization, and people want virtualization, it can be seen as a valuable extra. Extras, not to be confused with added value, increase price premiums through added cost to the purchasing party.

    However, the meat of the issue is not that people spoke out about DRM in such obvious and clear cut language, touting the anti-competitive stance MS has taken, but bloggers and writers are steering the focus to Linux which is offering a mirad of virtualizations for free. The only sensible stance is to do the same - just like MS did with VirtualPC... MS can't afford to be completely leapfrogged in any area.

    The thing the irks me is that people are constantly barking up the wrong tree with regards to industry ties with companies and DRM. The "MAFIAA" (as it's been put) is convincing companies to make DRM provisions, but they can't force the implementation on to end users if companies can't/don't want to/disagree. MS allowing virtualization is nothing more than a technology response to Linux. No one is warming to DRM, DRM is not dying any time soon. This is market forces at work. Granted market forces are slow, and cause no end of problems for us now...
  • The reasoning "It's not feasible to copy and distribute media that way because you need to distribute the VMs too" is flawed. If you wanted to re-emulate the entire viewing, then yes, you'd need the VMs etc. But what you want is the media - and since you already have that data sitting inside your VM plus the snapshop (remember that the VM needs to simulate everything) it should be possible to either record the thing with an authentic (read simulated hardware behaves as if it had DRM) VM and then use a modif
  • So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Will encouraging consumer virtualization result in a major uptick in piracy?
    No, because DRM doesn't hinder piracy in the first place.
  • SVS and Softgrid can also be used to get around a lot of the DRM and registration nonsence.

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