DRM in Windows Vista

Windows Vista includes an array of "features" that you don't want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They'll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won't do anything useful. In fact, they're working against you. They're digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.

And you don't get to refuse them.

The details are pretty geeky, but basically Microsoft has reworked a lot of the core operating system to add copy protection technology for new media formats like HD DVD and Blu-ray disks. Certain high-quality output paths -- audio and video -- are reserved for protected peripheral devices. Sometimes output quality is artificially degraded; sometimes output is prevented entirely. And Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing something that it thinks you shouldn't. If it does, it limits functionality and in extreme cases restarts just the video subsystem. We still don't know the exact details of all this, and how far-reaching it is, but it doesn't look good.

Microsoft put all those functionality-crippling features into Vista because it wants to own the entertainment industry. This isn't how Microsoft spins it, of course. It maintains that it has no choice, that it's Hollywood that is demanding DRM in Windows in order to allow "premium content" -- meaning, new movies that are still earning revenue -- onto your computer. If Microsoft didn't play along, it'd be relegated to second-class status as Hollywood pulled its support for the platform.

It's all complete nonsense. Microsoft could have easily told the entertainment industry that it was not going to deliberately cripple its operating system, take it or leave it. With 95% of the operating system market, where else would Hollywood go? Sure, Big Media has been pushing DRM, but recently some -- Sony after their 2005 debacle and now EMI Group -- are having second thoughts.

What the entertainment companies are finally realizing is that DRM doesn't work, and just annoys their customers. Like every other DRM system ever invented, Microsoft's won't keep the professional pirates from making copies of whatever they want. The DRM security in Vista was broken the day it was released. Sure, Microsoft will patch it, but the patched system will get broken as well. It's an arms race, and the defenders can't possibly win.

I believe that Microsoft knows this and also knows that it doesn't matter. This isn't about stopping pirates and the small percentage of people who download free movies from the Internet. This isn't even about Microsoft satisfying its Hollywood customers at the expense of those of us paying for the privilege of using Vista. This is about the overwhelming majority of honest users and who owns the distribution channels to them. And while it may have started as a partnership, in the end Microsoft is going to end up locking the movie companies into selling content in its proprietary formats.

We saw this trick before; Apple pulled it on the recording industry. First iTunes worked in partnership with the major record labels to distribute content, but soon Warner Music's CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. found that he wasn't able to dictate a pricing model to Steve Jobs. The same thing will happen here; after Vista is firmly entrenched in the marketplace, Sony's Howard Stringer won't be able to dictate pricing or terms to Bill Gates. This is a war for 21st-century movie distribution and, when the dust settles, Hollywood won't know what hit them.

To be fair, just last week Steve Jobs publicly came out against DRM for music. It's a reasonable business position, now that Apple controls the online music distribution market. But Jobs never mentioned movies, and he is the largest single shareholder in Disney. Talk is cheap. The real question is would he actually allow iTunes Music Store purchases to play on Microsoft or Sony players, or is this just a clever way of deflecting blame to the -- already hated -- music labels.

Microsoft is reaching for a much bigger prize than Apple: not just Hollywood, but also peripheral hardware vendors. Vista's DRM will require driver developers to comply with all kinds of rules and be certified; otherwise, they won't work. And Microsoft talks about expanding this to independent software vendors as well. It's another war for control of the computer market.

Unfortunately, we users are caught in the crossfire. We are not only stuck with DRM systems that interfere with our legitimate fair-use rights for the content we buy, we're stuck with DRM systems that interfere with all of our computer use -- even the uses that have nothing to do with copyright.

I don't see the market righting this wrong, because Microsoft's monopoly position gives it much more power than we consumers can hope to have. It might not be as obvious as Microsoft using its operating system monopoly to kill Netscape and own the browser market, but it's really no different. Microsoft's entertainment market grab might further entrench its monopoly position, but it will cause serious damage to both the computer and entertainment industries. DRM is bad, both for consumers and for the entertainment industry: something the entertainment industry is just starting to realize, but Microsoft is still fighting. Some researchers think that this is the final straw that will drive Windows users to the competition, but I think the courts are necessary.

In the meantime, the only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade to Vista. It will be hard. Microsoft's bundling deals with computer manufacturers mean that it will be increasingly hard not to get the new operating system with new computers. And Microsoft has some pretty deep pockets and can wait us all out if it wants to. Yes, some people will shift to Macintosh and some fewer number to Linux, but most of us are stuck on Windows. Still, if enough customers say no to Vista, the company might actually listen.

This essay originally appeared on Forbes.com.

EDITED TO ADD (2/23): Some commentary.

Posted on February 12, 2007 at 10:37 AM • 240 Comments

Comments

JamesMFebruary 12, 2007 11:08 AM

There has been considerable debate on the Peter Gutmann article since it came out in 2006 well before the final Vista code release. It appears he has recently updated the article, however, giving him another round or notoriety in the press cycle. (Do a google search for rebuttals to the article if you care.)

The important thing as I see it is this:

The content providers are pressuring hardware manufacturer's to secure the paths to the endpoints. Let's take a monitor for example; the monitor will include a decryption unit so the video stream will remain encrypted until it gets to the monitor. The only path to the monitor will be a low-fi version which does is unencrypted. If the OS does not detect a monitor which supports this decryption, it will send the degraded signal to the monitor instead to prevent piracy.

So ultimately, it does not depend on your O.S., if the concept is implemented in a wide-spread manner (and correctly), you would not be able to view high def content without encrypting it appropriately.

Of course there will be a thousand hacks, but that's the idea in a nutshell.

Joe BuckFebruary 12, 2007 11:15 AM

No, Steve Jobs did not publicly come out against DRM in music, not really. He proposed the abolishing of DRM (something he knows won't happen in the short term) as a preferable alternative to opening up iTunes (something European antitrust regulators are proposing to press on him), with the motivation of derailing the antitrust people (hey, look over there! The record companies are making me be a monoplist).

Apple could already distribute DRM-free music, from those labels and musicians that want it (many of these have already asked Apple to do it).

DavidFebruary 12, 2007 11:16 AM

I know I've found it exceedingly hard to do what seems like a trivial task: copy my mini-DVD so I can edit the video and then burn it onto regular DVDs. It's surprising the amount of effort, software parts, etc. that are necessary to do this.

Microsoft MovieMaker would seem like an easy choice, but it won't import from a DVD or burn a DVD. Go figure!

MyCatFebruary 12, 2007 11:19 AM

"Some researchers think that this is the final straw that will drive Windows to the competition"

Windows *users*, perhaps?

Joe BuckFebruary 12, 2007 11:22 AM

JamesM: I'm composing this message on a monitor with 1600x1200 display, that does not have any encryption path. Such monitors are common, and the studios can't make them all go poof. If Vista refuses to display a high-definition movie on such a device, everyone will just run Windows XP or (if Microsoft tries to disappear XP) Linux. Video-on-demand services can require Vista, but when pirates do whatever it takes to break the encryption, their unencrypted high-definition videos will display just fine for non-Vista users, and will be degraded for Vista users.

Matt PalmerFebruary 12, 2007 11:22 AM

Well, I just advised a friend of my father's to get XP rather than Vista, although this wasn't to do with the DRM.

Regardless of the merits or demerits of the system, it's just too soon - some hardware may not work, and we don't know what the security is really like - will antivirus work OK?. She'll get better performance out of the same hardware using XP rather than Vista. Her friends and family know XP too, and wouldn't be able to support her on Vista. It feels like a big change for... what benefits were those again?

Still, it's the first time I can remember when just getting the latest version of Windows for home use wasn't regarded as a no-brainer.

JimFebruary 12, 2007 11:24 AM

"Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing something that it thinks you shouldn't."

That's funny. We are at the point now where the PC decides what we can and can't do. It's like the CPU is overriding the brain. Next Vista will tell you what you can think according to a DRM scheme. The user should manage the PC, the PC shouldn't manage the user.

kurt wismerFebruary 12, 2007 11:52 AM

gradually people will come to realize that the characterization of DRM as digital rights (or restrictions) malware is correct (that which works against the device owner cannot be good)...

i just don't think it will happen in time...

Paul CrowleyFebruary 12, 2007 11:55 AM

"With 95% of the operating system market, where else would Hollywood go?"

Standalone players. Hollywood don't have to make it possible for their content to be viewed on general-purpose PCs at all.

TomFebruary 12, 2007 12:04 PM

This is the final straw, for me. I'm almost grateful for the clarity M$ is showing regarding its true constituency: itself and the Entertainment biz...now conjoined!

Mac/OS-X, here I come!!

JamesMFebruary 12, 2007 12:05 PM

@Joe Buck

You are correct; there's nothing they can do about legacy devices. This is why the DRM described in the first link is not yet fully enabled in Vista. In my opinion that article is being overly hyped at the moment. You could also make an argument that the TPM module in Apple Macs are just as much a serious threat, but Apple isn't really using it yet either.

The threat is still out there somewhere in the future when the hardware is widely deployed. Moving back to XP won't help in this case if all you have is the monitor.

People will find ways around it, but the idea is to make it a major hassle for the average Joe from copying their CD's to give to their sister.

quincunxFebruary 12, 2007 12:06 PM

@ Bruce,

"And you don't get to refuse them."

Uhm, sure you do - MS has to compete with its own older products as well as an array of other operating systems.

"I don't see the market righting this wrong, because Microsoft's monopoly position gives it much more power than we consumers can hope to have."

Oh, please. Markets don't form monopolies unless there is a government to prop them up. That propping up is called 'intellectual property', and against reverse-engineering (i.e. violation of other peoples' use of their physical property). If not for this, DRM would be strictly reserved for proper uses (yes, there are some).

One should study how markets actually work before making blanket statements like that.

"Microsoft put all those functionality-crippling features into Vista because it wants to own the entertainment industry."

The industry will just make movies so that MS can distribute it for them - yeah right.

" It might not be as obvious as Microsoft using its operating system monopoly to kill Netscape and own the browser market, but it's really no different. "

Netscape killed itself by being wholly financially unsound, and refusing to compete fairly. By competing fairly I mean not running to papa government to threaten its more productive competitors. Compare them to Opera and one easily sees where they went wrong.

"Microsoft's entertainment market grab might further entrench its monopoly position, but it will cause serious damage to both the computer and entertainment industries."

It will be like their other big bad market grabs. I'm still waiting for the late 90's MS forecasts of taking over the server market, the gaming market, and the embedded market. When is MS finally going to accomplish these old tasks when alarmists like yourself predicted the same thing?

"Some researchers think that this is the final straw that will drive Windows to the competition, but I think the courts are necessary."

And what is the crime for which you think the courts are necessary?
Offering a crappy product that will ultimately be rejected by customers?

Who are the victims?
People who purchased the product voluntarily?

If the courts are to be of any use they should strike down IP and anti-tinkering laws - and the problem will be solved forever across the board.

"And Microsoft has some pretty deep pockets and can wait us all out if it wants to."

Ah, the old 'We've got plenty of money to burn; our investors love to lose money in our business as opposed to investing it in a higher yield' argument. Well it's so ridiculous it isn't worth refuting.

rigelFebruary 12, 2007 12:08 PM

i find it interesting that noone i've read has touched on the fact that all these spare cycles being used to monitor your behavior, whether or not DRM works, will in the aggregate cause a pretty significant amount of power consumption. while AMD is constantly touting their processors' lower power consumption as a selling point, MS is going out of their way to INCREASE power consumption unnecessarily, in order to fellate Hollywood content-owners.

NickFebruary 12, 2007 12:10 PM

"most of us are stuck on Windows"

I'm sorry, Bruce, I think that's a cop-out.

I'm typing this is Konqueror, and if I were sitting at my Mac mini I'd be using Safari. Either works just fine. I'm not stuck.

I think the situation is just as serious as you say, and not only because of Windows Vista Content Protection--although that is a none-too-subtle attempt to corner another market. The problem is a larger one of a company with an undesirable monopoly and few scruples trying to extend its monopoly position into yet more areas. The comment about Netscape was a timely reminder. Any monopoly situation is a serious matter; and--because it is a monoploy--it's not clear what can be done about it:

Here is another Eric Raymond expressing the problem succintly:

"Microsoft will literally put an OEM out of business before it lets them help a competitor. "

Monopoly begets monopoly, one might say.

http://catb.org/~esr/writings/world-domination/...

I don't think it's good enough in this situation to say something along the lines of: Wouldn't it be nice, if?--but of course, we're stuck.

For home users there's no great issue. The only slight difficulty is that most Linux distros ship without multimedia codecs (owing to licensing issues), such as those needed for MP3. But the next release of Ubuntu will, apparently, do multimedia out of the box. And there's always Mac OS X.

Business users may be dependent on particular pieces of software, but if they want to enough can do very nicely without Redmond, thank you very much--witness the Ernie Ball saga:

http://news.com.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html

The only thing to ask oneself is, "Do these moral issues about how business ought and ought not to be conducted matter?" If they do, then making the effort to switch to Mac OS X, Linux or *BSD is something one perhaps ought to do. At any rate, if someone feels as strongly as you do, judging by what you say in the article, he ought at least to be able to say, "I use something other than Windows whenever I can."

LizuFebruary 12, 2007 12:16 PM

I'm sticking with XP on my main computer. I need to use Windows for gaming... so I won't probably ever make a full switch to Linux, but eh.

"Regardless of the merits or demerits of the system, it's just too soon - some hardware may not work, and we don't know what the security is really like - will antivirus work OK?. She'll get better performance out of the same hardware using XP rather than Vista. Her friends and family know XP too, and wouldn't be able to support her on Vista. It feels like a big change for... what benefits were those again?"

Absolutely. That's why I hadn't even considered upgrading and wouldn't have for at least a year anyway.

FPFebruary 12, 2007 12:16 PM

There are more reasons why this is Microsoft's fault more than Hollywood's. There's also Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), which is Vista's own presumed-guilty DRM scheme. It's a mandatory background process that asks Big Brother's servers every day whether it thinks you are entiteled to continue using Windows, or whether your computer should be disabled.

Also know how we are slowly softened up to losing control of the devices we own. Look no further than your DVD player. When you put in a disk and press play, we are forced to sit through various trailers that we can not skip. Not because the player is not capable of skipping, but because Hollywood forces the hardware into obedience and does not allow consumers to override.

JimFebruary 12, 2007 12:18 PM

Microsoft launches 'PlayReady' DRM system
"Microsoft has launched a new digital rights management system that will allow users to use commercial content on multiple different devices for a single fee." writes David Meyer.

So you buy Vista and then pay fees to use content on different devices. Call me simple, but I don't think people are going to buy into this. If you buy a CD, you should be able to listen to it on whatever, when and where you choose. You paid for the content once. Paying to play it is simply crazy.

CyberrukFebruary 12, 2007 12:18 PM

I am reminded of E. E. "Doc" Smith in the Lensman series of books stating that anything humans and technologically create as a security measure can be analyzed and bypassed. This was in Galactic Patrol published in 1937.

His words have been prophetic: any scheme business has come up with to protect their investment has been circumvented by the "pirates". And regardless of the variations and permutations that might be applied, the technological mechanisms will be "cracked" with relative ease. It didn't work with software in the 80's and 90's and it won't work with DRM.

And, I will use Linux before I will purchase Vista - Microsoft has gone power and $ mad. Why should I pay huge dollars for an OS that will be discovered to be inherently flawed, when I can obtain a free OS that is patched very quickly when holes are uncovered.

And as for the document formats that are proprietary under Microsoft, governmetns are moving to an Open Doc standard. As long as my office suite applications can deal with that emerging cross-platform standard, I don't care which operating system I use.

DamFebruary 12, 2007 12:20 PM

The issue with Apple opening up FairPlay is constantly misunderstood.

To get the studios to agree to allow distribution, Apple agreed to DRM. As part of this agreement, they also agreed that if their DRM scheme was broken, they'd fix it in a certain amount of time. To counter this required DRM (and lure consumers), Apple implemented the protection scheme in a way that is trivially easy to work around. (Burning to CD is essentially unrestricted).

However, in order to comply with the "if it breaks, we'll fix it" part of their compact with the labels, Apple has refused to license FairPlay. The reason for this is obvious--once FairPlay is licensed, Apple becomes responsible for "fixing" FairPlay in a short amount of time in way that doesn't screw up a licensee's implementation. This is essentially impossible, and thus there's a strong disincentive for Apple to go this route.

The iPod doesn't sell because it's "locked" to the ITMS. It sells because it has a relatively intuitive UI and "buzz." You can move music to the iPod without using iTunes, and you can play MP3s on the iPod. The whole (mistaken) idea that somehow Apple is locking people in to iTunes is ridiculous.

AnonymousFebruary 12, 2007 12:21 PM

@Joe Buck
>Apple could already distribute DRM-free music, from those labels and musicians that want it (many of these have already asked Apple to do it).

Unless Apple's agreement with the Big Labels forbids selling any unprotected content. Since we don't know the terms of any such agreements, we don't really know who is holding whose chain.


@JamesM
>You could also make an argument that the TPM module in Apple Macs are just as much a serious threat, but Apple isn't really using it yet either.

IIRC, the TPM device isn't present in any recent Mac models.

Andrew ClunisFebruary 12, 2007 12:35 PM

This is why I don't like running proprietary software on my computer: it's working for someone else.

btw, a question: is there a "Law" or "Axiom" out there that describes the idea that you can't keep secrets from a person within a device that is in their physical possession?

It seems closely related to Kerckhoffs' Principle/Shannon's Maxim (basically, a system must still be secure even if someone knows everything about it, excepting a private key).

UNTERFebruary 12, 2007 12:40 PM

@quincunx:

Please name any markets that were not supported by a military force.

Honestly, I can't think of any larger than a few guys trading jade, and those were eventually subsumed under govt. organized markets.

derfFebruary 12, 2007 12:53 PM

Big brother Microsoft will make sure my users don't accidentally pirate their operating system. For free in Vista! How thoughtful.

Big brother Microsoft will make sure my users don't accidentally pirate a movie or song. For free in Vista! Super. I'm sure we all have nightmares about that possibility.

What I want to know is when will Microsoft make sure my users don't accidentally infect their computers with spyware, adware, trojans, or viruses?

We still have to pay extra for that?!?!

Jeff AtwoodFebruary 12, 2007 12:56 PM

This has very little to do with Vista, and everything to do with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. Vista *ONLY* uses these 'copy protection' code paths when you're playing HD-DVD or Blu-Ray content.

If you want to boycott the problem, boycott HD-DVD and Blu-Ray!

RealistFebruary 12, 2007 1:06 PM

It will be interesting to see if VISTA's DRM backfires and actually starts a trend away from convegence of the PC and multi-media...

...it would be nice to see Hollywood and Microsloth lose a few billion on this investment.

JeremyFebruary 12, 2007 1:10 PM

I have never more seriously considered a Mac until Vista. Not that it's a bad system, but the DRM and the licensing make is so. The day they remove support for XP may be the last day I use a Windows OS.

DaveFebruary 12, 2007 1:17 PM

The "get a mac" meme doesn't work on me.

Why, if I were a Windows user, would I want to switch from one closed source Operating System (Windows) to another OS (Mac OS X) which is partly made up of closed source?

No thank you! I want my OS and software programs to ALL be FREE AND OPEN SOURCE!

Now some may get a Mac for the hardware, and/or to run Linux or a combo of Linux/Mac OSX/Windows or what have you on it, but if you value security and freedom, make sure your OS is FOSS like Linux! Free yourself from paying for upgrades and from software (like iTunes) which you cannot modify the source or even audit yourself for security. The "most people don't read source code" is bullshit, it's about FREEDOM *and* security.

eMFebruary 12, 2007 1:21 PM

"Mac/OS-X, here I come!!"

The same DRM will be present in OS X as well once it gains the capability to play HD-DVD/Blu-Ray.

"If Vista refuses to display a high-definition movie on such a device, everyone will just run Windows XP or (if Microsoft tries to disappear XP) Linux."

Neither XP nor Linux support HD-DVD/Blu-Ray. Any OS/device that supports HD-DVD/Blu-Ray will support HD-DVD/Blu-Ray DRM. If you don't want to be subject to HD-DVD/Blu-Ray DRM, don't buy/play HD-DVD/Blu-Ray disks. It's as simple as that.

W^L+February 12, 2007 1:21 PM

@quincunx:
Microsoft does have to compete with its older products, but "end of life" will come in a few years. Moving content to Windows Media Player 12 or 13 and making said application uninstallable on version prior to Vista will effectively kill off those older versions for content-viewing.

It is very true that government activity has propped up Microsoft's monopoly. Or more to the point, government INactivity. Court documents show that Microsoft violated anti-trust laws (the Sherman and Clayton acts) repeatedly, yet has only been slapped in the face. In the case of Netscape, for example, they inserted special code into Win95 to cause browser hangs and crashes. They also paid OEMs to include IE / not include Netscape with the computer. They used special OS hooks to make Word and Excel work better than WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Quattro Pro. If you believe that all of these competitors *suddenly* stumbled at the same time in the two or three years after Windows 95 came out, perhaps we can find a therapist for you.

"It will be like their other big bad market grabs. I'm still waiting for the late 90's MS forecasts of taking over the server market, the gaming market, and the embedded market. When is MS finally going to accomplish these old tasks when alarmists like yourself predicted the same thing?"

Because of monopolies in client/consumer operating systems and office applications, they have been able to rapidly expand in the server operating system area, even though those of us that work with their servers believe that the product is inferior to such systems as Solaris. These monopolies have also kept them in the game with money-losing XBox, MSN/Live, Zune, and Origami. They are also growing in the PDA/smartphone space, despite BlackBerry / PalmOS / Linux being much easier to use and better suited for those environments. I concluded that the office monopoly was now the key to their whole business at http://lnxwalt.wordpress.com/2007/01/21/... and http://lnxwalt.wordpress.com/2007/01/20/... . This is why they are pushing so hard for the OOXML that no one else wants. Not businesses, not governments, not consumers, not competitors.

Remember, they have saturated their core markets, while most of their initiatives (Origami, Plays-For-Sure, Zune) are going nowhere. This strategy that Bruce talks about was successfully used when a railroad owner decided to become a steel tycoon, and got a major steel company dependent upon his railroad for transporting supplies and output. The railroad simply stopped carrying to and from the steel plant and in short order, was able to purchase everything lock, stock, and barrel.

Stephan SamuelFebruary 12, 2007 1:24 PM

The 'own the movie industry' theory may be a slight overstepping of the boundaries of Vista, but I think Bruce got it right in general. It seems that many people are regarding Vista in a utopian, all-else-equal context.

If you're a Mac or Linux user, you consider them options for the desktop; the fact is that they're really not for 90% of users. If they were, how come they have 5% market penetration?

Users won't "reject" Vista. XP took a while to pick up steam and Vista will too. Maybe it'll never sell as well as XP, but if it takes a huge hit, Microsoft will adapt. Similarly, Hollywood will adapt if they see their market share of distribution eroding. In 5 years, Vista 1.x will be the only upgrade path to Vista 2.x that anyone wants or needs.

If necessary, intermediate markets will emerge, like perhaps middleware that helps Vista "see" the "right" hardware. Where there's a line of code that does something no user wants, Microsoft will patch it or some hacker will "patch" it.

These markets all have evolved and they continue to:

- The RIAA crowd hasn't moved quickly, but they're still making money off licensing to Yahoo! Music.

- Apple rolled sinking desktop market share into a lucrative MP3 player market: Apple was nearly last to the market, but who even calls it an "MP3 player" anymore? Now Apple wants you to believe that you need an iBook and a VW to listen to your music.

- When it's financially viable, read: enough people don't want to buy Vista, Red Hat will make changes to their kernel that will allow XP binaries to execute directly. Linux is an application compatibility layer and one more partnership deal away from becoming a viable desktop OS for the mainstream.

Diversity and adversity are opportunity.

James RistoFebruary 12, 2007 1:38 PM

I am usually with you, but why is it when people talk about MS its like all freedom is ending? Seems to me that MS is putting in stuff so big entertainment will allow stuff on it. The minute that big-e decides with Jobs that DRM is not worthwhile, then all that non-DRM stuff will play on Vista, too. Move along .. nothing new to see here.

SamFebruary 12, 2007 1:49 PM

Ummm, maybe its just me, but I care way more about the INCLUSION of seamless preboot full-drive encryption in vista, then anything to do with high-def entertainment content.

Kylie MandersFebruary 12, 2007 2:48 PM

I don't see what all the fuss is about people. Vista is a terrific improvement over XP. Quit your moaning and go back to work!

Ron RuncibleFebruary 12, 2007 2:50 PM

Peter Marreck: MS mean well; for instance in '92 or so Gates railed about how software patents would crush free enterprise in software. Bottom line, these days the back room is so much more accomodating than us vile consumers.

Derek C. F. PegritzFebruary 12, 2007 3:05 PM

I am certainly no Microsoft apologist, yet it's obvious that Vista's so-called "Protected Media Path" DRM scheme was simply added to the OS to satisfy the media industry conglomerates. Of course MS wants to use its next-gen operating system to monopolize media markets, so in order to ensure that media distributors are comfortable with all of the new media-centric enhancements in Vista, MS had implemented a "secure" combined hard/software channel to lock down premium content.

I run Vista, and have had *no* problems whatsoever with this. My PC is by no means a bleeding-edge Alienware monster, yet I haven't observed ANY performance slowdowns or other issues that could in any way be connected to Vista's PMP.

How do I avoid these problems? I avoid protected media. I do not own a single digital media file (audio or video) which has a single byte of DRM added to it. I do not own any HD/Blu-Ray high-definition discs. And anytime I watch a regular DVD on my computer, I ensure that AnyDVD or Region-Free CSS is running in order to circumvent any older copy-protection schemes which may in any way interact with Vista's built-in DRM support.

MS can wire as much DRM into their OS as they want: it's irrelevant to me. I have no need to buy any new hardware that is "supported" by PMP in order to enable protected content because I refuse to buy ANY protected content.

Furthermore...any and ALL DRM schemes can, and most assuredly will, be cracked eventually. Both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD flavors of AACS have been cracked already, and at *least* one security investigator, Alex Ionescu, has already announced that he has circumvented the Protected Media Path (http://www.alex-ionescu.com/?p=24).

I do agree that DRM is a completely unnecessary hassle that consumers should not in any way be burdened with, yet most consumers simply do not *care* about DRM--they are not aware what it does, what problems it causes, what legal and ethical issues it raises....Hell, most of 'em don't even know what the anagram stands for! As long as folks can download songs from iTunes for a buck a track, most of them simply will not give a damn that they, as consumers, do not ultimately own the material they paid for. Nor will they care if entrenched DRM schemes produce security threats, as public ignorance of security issues is notoriously widespread.

The battle against DRM will not be won by stirring up public outcry (unless another Sony rootkit fiasco comes about--and, believe me, soon enough another will), but by hackers and crackers who routinely dynamite holes in DRM schemes again and again and again...until it finally becomes apparent to software manufacturers and media distributors that DRM is completely ineffective at stopping "piracy."

Fred PFebruary 12, 2007 3:06 PM

"Vista is a terrific improvement over XP. " - Kylie Manders

What, pray tell, does Vista do better? Is it the appearance of the interface that you like more? Is it MS Marketing's claims of (once again) being the most secure MS OS ever (a mark many other such MS OSes have failed to meet after similar claims)? Is it the reduction of the amount and type of hardware that it fully supports? Is it the slow-downs for certain classes of applications? Is it the drain on memory that it causes? Is it the reduction in the number and classes of software that will function properly on it?

Yes, please, tell me what Vista does that you think is better.

UNTERFebruary 12, 2007 3:18 PM

@Peregritz,

But the hackers and crackers won't solve the problem for the very reason you pointed out: most folks don't know about DRM.

The goal of DRM is not to stop "pirates," it's to increase the cost of copying to the consumer --- intermediate producers aren't the problem being solved. For example, DVD's are copy protected. Of course, a little custom hardware will allow any pirate to produce limitless copies, and at the consumer level, plenty of tools are available to DeCSS. Even though the consumer has a legitimate (if not legal) right to back up a copy of a movie he bought, this requires a knowledge of the available tools, and a not insignificant time investment. So, when the kids go and scratch a movie, he goes out and pays another $20, when lack of DRM would have allowed him to buy a home DVD copier.

Changes won't come about "naturally." They require political effort, which is unlikely today to happen in the US.

Geoff LaneFebruary 12, 2007 3:20 PM

DRM will die, not because of any great ethical cause, but because there is no real financial reason for it to exist. Microsoft doesn't profit from DRM but it is an obvious and continuing loss (continual development required as each DRM version is cracked.)

Contrary to what the RIAA/MPAA like to claim, most people are fairly honest and the occasional home copy or download doesn't translate to an actual loss (the presumption that every unofficial copy prevented is translated to an actual sale is both stupid and insulting.)

DRM does nothing to prevent bit-level copies nor off-the-books production runs on DVD production lines.

The hardware "dongle" died because it didn't protect against any serious threat and was difficult and unreliable to use. DRM is just a software dongle.

Anne O'NeimausFebruary 12, 2007 3:25 PM

@quincunx: "Oh, please. Markets don't form monopolies unless there is a government to prop them up. That propping up is called 'intellectual property', and against reverse-engineering (i.e. violation of other peoples' use of their physical property). If not for this, DRM would be strictly reserved for proper uses (yes, there are some)."

In fact, MARKETS don't form unless there is a government to prop them up. If necessary, they create that government (the Hanseatic League, for example), as part of forming. Thus, the government is inherently part of the "market environment", and manipulating the government and its laws is inerently a "market activity" - both for business, and for "the people" (a critical part of the market).

Claiming that some theoretical ideal "Market" will do such-and-such, if "the government" just leaves it alone, is ridiculous. Whatever form it takes, the regulatory-and-protective-services (colloquially known as "the government") in which a given market operates, and upon which it relies, is an essential aspect of that market. Some forms of government may produce "more vibrant" markets than others, but all markets are inherently tied to some form of government. Otherwise, you wouldn't have any basis of value (money) for the market to operate with. (I am presuposing that a pure-barter economy with no inherent trade-stability because of rampant piracy/briggandage and unmitigated fraud does not really qualify as a "market" in the way the term is generally used.)

Laws which limit the powers of corporations are NOT "anti-market". They are PART of the existing market and marketplace - as are the laws which allow corporations to exist and function at all.

This, then, brings us to the topic of regulation - specifically, regulation of trade. As stated, government is necessary for there to be any persistent market. The market itself demands the creation and enforcement of trade regulations - what do you think "trade guilds" have historically been all about? At the very least, traders demand that some entity protects them against robbery. If they are simply "allowed to protect themselves", then the private security forces they develop and employ become the de-facto police-force/government in the areas where they operate. It's insepperable and inevitable.

One of the key advancements of Democracy is the tacit understanding that "the people" are a critical component of "the market", and both should and do have a say in how "the government" works to promulgate that market. Typically, an individual is ineffective in enforcing his/her will on a large collective. Most modern businesses are collectives (corporations).

One way to effectively compete against businesses is to form one or more collectives that represent the interests of (segments of) "the people": representative democracy. These collectives of "the people" make their desires known by influencing the regulations imposed by the government. This is all inherently part of the market in any democratic society.

Corporation can and do manipulate both the government and popular opinion, in order to promulgate regulations they find favorable. Many people (ocassionally Bruce among them) simply recommend that we "the people" use our own collective power in this arrangement to promulgate regulations in our favor. In general, I concurr.

This is all a big security issue, because ultimately that is what a government is for: establishing and maintaining whatever security is necessary for a society to both develop and continue existing. Currently and historically, one of the requirements for a society to thrive is the cultivation of "a market", in terms of resource-exploitation, goods production, services, and trade. Thus, the "health" of "the market" IS a security issue within that society. But ignoring the consumer half of that market is probably not a wise security choice, over the long run. Armed revolutions are generally bad for security when they happen, but they ARE the ultimate "market correction" - and they historically happen when collective businesses (including commercial governments and most forms of
plutocracies) are allowed to run rampant over the the rights of the populace.

Our current "market-driven" economy is driving our society ever closer to being yet another plutocracy. The fact that "the rich" is mostly comprised of inhuman entities (corporation and over-budgeted bureaucaracies) only makes it worse - even fewer people enjoy the "full" benefits of society.

Your postings often seem to have a strong "anti-government" stance. However, while I see many flaws with our (indeed, all exiting) government, it just can't happen that we will EVER exist without any governement for any significant period of time. Even one person acting as a sovereign individual is inherently a Monarchy (or a perfect Democracy, if you want). Two or more people who regularly interact for any significant period of time are automatically going to form a government of some type. Even if it is not formally codified, it will exist; "understandings" will evolve, and "traditions" will become entrenched as effective law regulating their interactions. Thus, rather than propose "no government at all" - which condition can only exist in the total absense of any people at all - we should probably look at optimising the government we will perforce have. Under our current system, we do this (admittedly, rather inefficiently) with legislation. What laws do you thing need to be enacted/changed/repealed to get a suitable "security environment" for your chosen constituency? Myself, I am far more interested in the protection of "real people" than I am in the totally artificial entities we call corporations.

MatthewFebruary 12, 2007 3:27 PM

It might include features you don't want. But it surely includes features you do. However, many of these can be re-created in Windows XP.

My latest blog entry highlights some of these features/enhancements that can be made to XP to match Vista.

oasisob1February 12, 2007 3:28 PM

Everyone has a choice, Bruce. The problem here is that in order to switch platforms, the user has to 'not be lazy'. The switcher has to learn about the new OS. In the case of Linux in all its flavors, the user has to *gasp* do some reading! I haven't used a Windows machine outside of work since 1996. My life is great! An earlier poster said your comment about 'being stuck' was a copout. I agree.
Switch.
And who needs 'premium content' anyway? Go read a book. Go for a walk. Talk to a human being. Sometimes we have to disconnect from these computers and be real people. We survived without them for quite a while.

Harvey HypocriteFebruary 12, 2007 3:28 PM

We gripe and complain, but nearly everyone will still go out and buy it. Just like the folks with placards protesting a new Wal-Mart. To the average consumer, we're just a few little gnats on a summer afternoon.

Are we going to boycott Vista? No. Are we going to stop working for companies drowning in Microsoft products? No. Are we going to walk the streets of Redmond with "No DRM!" signs? No. Will most of us be using systems running Vista by this time next year, regardless of embedded DRM schemes? Yes.

quincunxFebruary 12, 2007 3:36 PM

@UNTER

'Please name any markets that were not supported by a military force.'

What do you mean by 'supported'?
What do you mean by 'military force'?

'Honestly, I can't think of any larger than a few guys trading jade, and those were eventually subsumed under govt. organized markets.'

All were subsumed by force since there is no free area left on the earth - but that does not prove that force was necessary to run them.

In fact, if they weren't running well, there would be no point in expropriating them!

@ W^L+

'It is very true that government activity has propped up Microsoft's monopoly. Or more to the point, government INactivity.'

I consider it's overall enforcement of IP laws, anti-tinkering laws, and its own use of MS products (indirect corporate welfare) as much bigger interferences.

'Court documents show that Microsoft violated anti-trust laws (the Sherman and Clayton acts) repeatedly, yet has only been slapped in the face.'

Violating those laws is a good thing - since they are inherently ANTI-COMPETITIVE.

' In the case of Netscape, for example, they inserted special code into Win95 to cause browser hangs and crashes. They also paid OEMs to include IE / not include Netscape with the computer. They used special OS hooks to make Word and Excel work better than WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Quattro Pro. If you believe that all of these competitors *suddenly* stumbled at the same time in the two or three years after Windows 95 came out, perhaps we can find a therapist for you.'

Yes, you are correct, they did do all that , but they did not threaten anyone with violence - something only the gov can do legitimately.

BTW, why is it that these companies could not get around these software restrictions imposed on them by MS?

Why that would involve hacking around the restrictions - making 3rd party patches and distributing them. But that would be illegal! So you see whose at fault again (the State). I don't need a therapist. People just need to see the invisible middle finger of the state when it is lurking in the background.

'Remember, they have saturated their core markets, while most of their initiatives (Origami, Plays-For-Sure, Zune) are going nowhere.'

Market share is NOT monopoly.

'The railroad simply stopped carrying to and from the steel plant and in short order, was able to purchase everything lock, stock, and barrel.'

I have no idea what you are talking about. Is this an actual episode from history? This can't be a general case otherwise the railroads would subsume the steel companies - but they didn't. I'll have to look into that.

@ Bruce

'Funny. I knew it was you by the secone line.'

Any chance I can get a real response on any points I make?

Do you or do you not support using the court to expropriate any given compay and then use the procedes for political coffers (the only feasible outcome)?


rkeeneFebruary 12, 2007 3:40 PM

The DRM in Vista was not put there 'at the behest of the music industry'. It was put there because Microsoft wants to lock in the customer to Microsofts business model. If Microsoft marketing did not want DRM, it wouldn't be there no matter what the music industry said. This is Microsoft doing what is best for Microsoft. The sad thing is that it is not at all what is best for Microsoft in the long term.

UNTERFebruary 12, 2007 3:45 PM

@quincunx:
What do you mean by 'supported'?
What do you mean by 'military force'?

Simply, I can't think of any historical market that did not exist without government backing, without an army protecting the market place from people who didn't want to play the game going on in the market. Even the few guys trading jade carried clubs, or had their buddies hanging around with a few.

I would like to have a counter-example. Otherwise, I have to doubt that it is even possible to have a functioning market without somebody protecting it with guns. In the same way that all organisms have immune systems: I'd like to see a functioning organism without one, if someone suggests that immune systems are unnecessary to a functioning organism.

Is there an realistic alternative for organizing markets and protecting them, or are you suggesting that they can spontaneously organize, even though there is no evidence that any ever have?

WaltFebruary 12, 2007 3:58 PM

@Geoff

Hardware dongles are alive and well in high-end software - particularly software that has a limited market such as medical / industrial vision systems, etc. Typically the market for this kind of software is small, and the dollar cost is high - several thousand $ per license.

ChrisFebruary 12, 2007 4:06 PM

@oasisob1

If you're expecting average/novice computer users to put in the additional effort to run Linux or some other alternate platform you're in for some serious disappointment.

Until Linux becomes dumb user friendly, anyone who purchases a PC will be "stuck" with Vista.

mrGFebruary 12, 2007 4:10 PM

Nielsen numbers say the Canadian digital download market grew 120% last year, dwarfing the market growth in more Digitally Restrictive markets like Europe (80%) or, worse still, the copy-gestapo spooked market in the United States (65%).

So why, asks the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, are foreign music labels still pressuring Ottawa to stifle fan-sharing?

"The CMCC sees the 2006 sales numbers -- and the continuing success of the private copying scheme -- as a sign that there's no need to change Canada's copyright laws to enable record companies to sue our fans. Our music download market is growing faster than those in the US and Europe. To us, that seems like evidence that the Canadian government should focus on empowering Canadian musicians and protecting Canadian consumers from potentially harmful technology."
[ source: CMCC Congratulates Industry on Unparalleled Growth : http://www.musiccreators.ca/wp/?p=215]

AlanFebruary 12, 2007 4:24 PM

I have been using Linux as my primary desktop for about 10 years now. I have not regretted it. If I want to watch a movie, or change formats on media, or view a file I got off the net, I can. I don't have to ask permission from anyone. If I buy a new system, I can move the drive in a matter of minutes. I don't have the downtime of having to get permission from Microsoft or anyone else. At work, I have to use XP. It is crippled compared with Linux. If Microsoft had spent 1/10th of the time they spent trying to lock in people to their OS fixing the glaring problems in the OS, it might not be so bad. (The command line is still the frickin DOS shell for gnu's sake!)

Matthias UrlichsFebruary 12, 2007 4:45 PM

DRM, as applied to consumer content, does not "manage" any rights. It restricts them, pure and simple.

The FSF people may be crazy Free-as-in-Libre Software Zealots, but their idea to call this nonsense Digital "Restrictions" Management is dead on. Please consider doing likewise.

In other news, I refuse to buy any content I cannot back up without loss of quality. I refuse to buy a player that doesn't understand free A/V formats. I'm running Linux because there's enough ugly closed-door shenaningans going on in the world out there and I don't want the same thing on the computer in my home.

Among a lot of other reasons.

So there.

JLFebruary 12, 2007 5:22 PM

"Microsoft's bundling deals with computer manufacturers mean that it will be increasingly hard not to get the new operating system with new computers."

We recently tried to order some DELL Inspirons and were told that they only ship with Vista.
Since MS obviously plans to give little choice to the consumer, I guess they have learned how to release stable, tested software. I'm not sure where they learned it.. certainly not from experience.

ScottFebruary 12, 2007 5:46 PM

I'm sure there are people who would like to get familiar with Linux, but are not at all interested in installing it on their computer. The "LiveCD" makes it possible. Choose one of the many flavors of Linux as a LiveCD, download the .iso file, burn it to a blank CD then reboot from that CD. The flavor of Linux you chose will auto-detect your hardware, set it up and present you with a default desktop.

Here is a list of LiveCDs to choose from:
http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php

Among them are some very good options, some very bad options and some mostly pointless "me too" distributions. They come bundled with an assortment of software. KNOPPIX is a good place to start since it will not touch your hard drive unless you specifically tell it to. It runs only from the CD and from RAM (setup as a ramdisk and merged with the file system on the CD.)

All it will cost you is some bandwidth for the download, the price of a blank CD and some time.

BJBeetsFebruary 12, 2007 5:55 PM

Linux will never capture a large portion of the home user market until the Linux geeks figure out that the reason their OS is largely incomprehensible to Windows users is their own basic terminology. MS users know what "install" means. When you start talking about "mounting" something, they think you're referring to taxidermy or Viagra. Oh, sorry. I forgot. Gates probably has a patent on the word "install".

Michael LongFebruary 12, 2007 6:12 PM

"With 95% of the operating system market, where else would Hollywood go?"

Hollywood would only be too happy to go, period, as they really didn't want their content on those pesky PCs in the first place. If all people did was slide the shiny little disc into the shiny little region-encoded DRM-protected DVD player they'd be estatic.

DaveFebruary 12, 2007 6:22 PM

Maybe we should take a page from the RIAA playbook and charge Microsoft (RIAA) a "carbon tax" or "resource consumption tax" or "systems reliability tax" that reflects the cost to society of the overhead of DRM. Much like RIAA wants a cut of every CD-R media sold.

It's a classic externality, right? Microsoft (or RIAA) doesn't have to bear the cost of all this hardware overhead, so it doesn't enter into their economic decisionmaking process.

drewFebruary 12, 2007 6:34 PM

Bruce,

Could you expound on how it's going to continually drain your computing resources ("Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing something that it thinks you shouldn't.")? As I understand it the DRM "features" are irrelevant performance-wise unless you're attempting to play back protected content. Absent protected content, no performance impact.

I agree with your assessment of what the real battle is, but I don't think impaired performance is a valid argument.

JohnFebruary 12, 2007 6:40 PM

Linux _is_ ready for the desktop. Here's the thing; someone further up the page asked "if Linux is so ready for the desktop, why does MS have 95% market share?". The answer to that comes in two parts:

1) Linux (as a desktop OS, the server ads from HP and IBM don't count) has no marketing department.

2) Linux, as a rule, doesn't come preinstalled as a desktop OS (I say "as a rule" because there are places to get it preinstalled, but not from a shiny Dell catalog for example).

More people don't use Linux because they either don't know about it, or because they can't install it. Guess what...

They can't install MS Windows either.

Are these issues that need to be dealt with? Of course...but deal with the actual problem and not some stupid "Linux isn't friendly enough" FUD. Have you people (who say that) even seen the new versions of KDE or GNOME?

If you level the playing field by getting Linux installed and set up with all the A/V codecs and desktop shortcuts, etc., by someone who knows what they're doing -- just like what a user gets with a pre-loaded copy of MS Windows -- then you have no problem.

atanas entchevFebruary 12, 2007 7:11 PM

All my desktop professional applications are Windows-only. Microsoft has an even bigger hold on users through its huge family of Windows-only application developers. I really have no choice.

AaronFebruary 12, 2007 7:41 PM

"Yes, some people will shift to Macintosh and some fewer number to Linux, but most of us are stuck on Windows."

@atanas entchev

"I really have no choice."

There is always a choice. And sometimes, all of the available choices will involve a sacrifice or compromise of some sort. The idea that we have an inalienable right to only be faced with choices where at least one outcome demands neither is perhaps the single largest problem that we have these days. Microsoft knows that the vast majority of its customer base will take in the proverbial shorts rather than suffer a greater inconvenience to attempt to influence the company's behavior. And it relies on those customers to pressure others into complying. And many do, because the pain of being screwed around by the Evil Empire is more palatable than the pain of having to look for and learn new products, or give up a convenient feature.

Microsoft might have a gun to the heads of most computer users, but it's the users themselves with their fingers on the triggers.

AnonymousFebruary 12, 2007 7:51 PM

@quincunx

"Any chance I can get a real response on any points I make?"

Bruce just gave you the 'real response'; next time try listening a bit more (hint - humility, not confidence of the ignorant) and remember whose blog this is.

RufusFebruary 12, 2007 7:57 PM

Spot on John. Windows is only user friendly if you don't have to do anything technical or under the hood.

For thet 90% of tasks that Joe and Jane Consumer use a pc for, Linux works just fine. The current media king, Flash, is available for Linux and Firefox 2 renders almost all web pages with ease. For the more technically adept, you can install all Windows media codecs on your pc to view any movies or DVD's.

That being said, what Linux lacks is a focused, cash backed effort to get it into consumers pc's. and I'm pessimistic that this will happen, at least in the US. There's always Europe, though.

LarryFebruary 12, 2007 8:07 PM

That's why I got my new PC in December. I wanted no part of Vista specifically because of DRM. I don't trust Microsoft and I don't trust Hollywood when it comes to my pc. I expect people to have all kinds of problems just because of the drm features.

mcepatFebruary 12, 2007 8:07 PM

please get your facts straight, this article is such BS

take this article and wherever you say Microsoft replace with Apple

Might as well be at least a little accurate

quincunxFebruary 12, 2007 8:24 PM

@ UNTER

"Simply, I can't think of any historical market that did not exist without government backing, without an army protecting the market place from people who didn't want to play the game going on in the market. "

I can't answer your question because it's framing is a contradiction.

How could an army protect the market, when the army is funded by expropriating from the market?

The army and its leader is already not playing the market rules.

@ Anne

The main problem with your comment, is that you infuse governance & the State (what I called government) into one concept, but they are different.

I am in no way opposed to governance.

The State is that institution that claims a legal monopoly of the use of coercion in a given territory.

It has its being by the systematic robbery of the population: Taxation, and counterfitting. The State never comes into being from voluntary consent, but always from force.

The only difference b/w the State and a bandit gang, is legitimacy. Legitimacy that must be preserved by duping the public over and over again.

'Whatever form it takes, the regulatory-and-protective-services (colloquially known as "the government") in which a given market operates, and upon which it relies, is an essential aspect of that market.'

I completely agree with this statement, because you are unwittingly supporting my anarcho-capitalist position.

If the form taken is a monopoly institution then you have a State.

If that form is itself a competitive market for regulation&security then you have Anarchism.

'Otherwise, you wouldn't have any basis of value (money) for the market to operate with.'

Ah, but the truth is exactly the reverse.

Government is just about the last entity you want to define money. Because it will debase it and counterfit it to the maximum extent it can get away with (oh yeah - and then blame it on the market).

If you believe that free market money would involve too much fraud, then why couldn't the State just protect against money fraud as it does for other fraud? Why did it have to monopolize it? Because it wants to do the fraud!

'Laws which limit the powers of corporations are NOT "anti-market". They are PART of the existing market and marketplace - as are the laws which allow corporations to exist and function at all.'

Corporations existed long before the State got into the act of perverting it.

Both laws that give it the power & limit the power are anti-market. We should reject the initial one that create the need for the latter one.

'Currently and historically, one of the requirements for a society to thrive is the cultivation of "a market", in terms of resource-exploitation, goods production, services, and trade.'

There is no government unless those things are already taking place. The government subsits on expropriating the products of other people, thus it has no existence unless a market is already functioning.

'The market itself demands the creation and enforcement of trade regulations - what do you think "trade guilds" have historically been all about?'

Trade guilds were the middle class' expropriation of the poor.

These trade guilds were actually fully backed by crony businessman, because mandatory high labor costs, cartelizes the market for them!

'At the very least, traders demand that some entity protects them against robbery.'

If they demanded protection against robbery, why did they demand to get robbed (taxed)?

' If they are simply "allowed to protect themselves", then the private security forces they develop and employ become the de-facto police-force/government in the areas where they operate. It's insepperable and inevitable.'

Uhm, not really. They don't have legitimacy, they key ingredient. A private security force that went beyond self-protection is not seen as a 'government' by the more numerous population. Bandit gangs always have to come outside that society, and are never seen as self-defenders.

'One way to effectively compete against businesses is to form one or more collectives that represent the interests of (segments of) "the people": representative democracy.'

Another way is to remove their privileges. It is my belief that removing problems is better than adding another one to compete with the other.

'Many people (ocassionally Bruce among them) simply recommend that we "the people" use our own collective power in this arrangement to promulgate regulations in our favor. In general, I concurr.'

But you 'the people' are not going to get the largesse of the ad-hoc expropriation. What will actually results when the government goes after a company is:

a) people lose their jobs (either them, or their clients).
b) Money goes to lawyers, and to the gov in general.
c) No user will get anything in return.
d) And to the extent that the product was useful, the customers lose out.

Who benefits? Not 'the people'.

'Two or more people who regularly interact for any significant period of time are automatically going to form a government of some type. Even if it is not formally codified, it will exist; "understandings" will evolve, and "traditions" will become entrenched as effective law regulating their interactions.'

Exactly! But it doesn't follow why these 'understandings' or codes of conduct must be monopolized by one institution.

'Under our current system, we do this (admittedly, rather inefficiently) with legislation.'

Legislation is a zero-sum game, that must constantly be fought. Legislation is a perversion of Law. Real law is discoverable by human reason, not modified and appended by a rotating set of special interests.

'What laws do you thing need to be enacted/changed/repealed to get a suitable "security environment" for your chosen constituency?'

All of the ones that contravene the natural law. That is, all those in any way shape or form that violate the non-aggression axiom. The foundation of security is private property. You can't have computer security without physical security, which is why discussion must always come back to it.

Being that the State is the systematic violator of private property, we can never get it until it is simply abolished.

@ Anon

"Bruce just gave you the 'real response'; next time try listening a bit more (hint - humility, not confidence of the ignorant) and remember whose blog this is."

I didn't realize that a brush off was a response.

I must have gained too must confidence since I have yet to be shown to be ignorant. I would appreciate being shown to be ignorant, so that I can gain some humility.

UNTERFebruary 12, 2007 8:35 PM

@quincunx:
I can't answer your question because it's framing is a contradiction.

How could an army protect the market, when the army is funded by expropriating from the market?

The army and its leader is already not playing the market rules.
================

No, that's not a contradiction. Outside any game, there's always a meta-game about the rules of the internal game. This is the system that enforces the rules, and by definition it must fall outside of the rules of the inner game, in order to avoid an internal recursion.

Of course, you end up at the bottom with a self-recurring system, which wraps up Gödel's nightmare, or you fall out to physics. It's a question of levels.

My question is simply empirical: has there ever been a system where, in your terms, the market wasn't being run by the bandit? The bandit likes the market, there's all kinds of nice effects of the market that the bandit can tax, organize, etc, which he couldn't do by the direct application of force.

Are there any examples of markets with no bandit? Or is it, on the ground, evident that the bandit is part of the market, just like the cartel running the NFL is part of football, even though they don't actually play by the rules of football?

Peter G.February 12, 2007 8:40 PM

Bruce--

I debunked Peter Gutmann's original article right here on December 28. I'm sad to see that you're still referencing it uncritically.

I'm not arguing with the basic thrust of your comments here. I just think you should be more careful in selecting your references. Gutmann's article was grossly irresponsible, biased, and simply false in most of its specific claims.

Here's what I wrote then:

What follows are some comments I wrote up for an email list I'm on.

I'll skip the summaries and start with the introduction.

Gutmann writes:

"This document looks purely at the
cost of the technical portions of Vista's
content protection."

He should have said "complexity" because almost nothing he describes has a direct or necessary relationship with cost. There are complexities involved, but they're pretty much insignificant especially by comparison with Gutmann's hype.

"However, one important point that
must be kept in mind when reading this
document is that in order to work,
Vista's content protection must be able
to violate the laws of physics,
something that's unlikely to happen no
matter how much the content industry
wishes it were possible."

This point sounds important but he never backs it up, so I'll skip it too.

"Since S/PDIF doesn't provide any content
protection, Vista requires that it be
disabled when playing protected content."

I believe this is wrong. I'm pretty sure Microsoft and the content creators aren't going to prevent people from playing high-quality audio over USB speakers and Bluetooth headsets. I'm pretty sure that digital audio may be transmitted at CD quality levels (stereo, 44.1 KHz, 16-bit samples).

"For example PC voice communications rely on
automatic echo cancellation (AEC) in order
to work. ..."

This is a very interesting point. If it's okay to get the downsampled CD-quality audio, AEC should still work just as well. If not, people may just have to give up on doing full-duplex voice communications while simultaneously using the PC to play protected high-def content. I think perhaps this is not a big problem.

"Alongside the all-or-nothing approach of
disabling output, Vista requires that
any interface that provides high-quality
output degrade the signal quality
that passes through it."

This is grossly overstated because it implies this happens all the time. It's true only when the content is protected and the selected output is inherently insecure.

In practice, once secure hardware gets out there, most end users will never see this problem.

In the meantime, yeah, Microsoft and the hardware guys shouldn't claim to support protected HD content if they don't have a complete solution.

"For example the field of medical imaging
either bans outright or strongly frowns on
any form of lossy compression because
artifacts introduced by the compression
process can cause mis-diagnoses and in
extreme cases even become life-threatening."

This is grossly irresponsible and tantamount to invoking Godwin's Law. No medical-imaging system in the world is ever going to use the kind of content protection that Microsoft and the MPAA care about, and no medical technician would ever overlook the sudden downsampling-and-supersampling of medical imagery. Nobody's going to die.

"Elimination of Open-source Hardware Support"
"Elimination of Unified Drivers"

These sections are ridiculous. The only thing the open-source software movement won't get is enough information to let them violate the intellectual-property rights of the hardware vendors and content creators.

Users will be able to get closed-source drivers where there's enough demand. Nobody has the right to expect anything more than that.

"This means that a report of a compromise of a
particular driver or device will cause all
support for that device worldwide
to be turned off until a fix can be found."

This is a clumsy lie. The only thing that has to be denied in the event of a crack is the ability of the compromised device to violate intellectual-property rights.

The truth hiding behind the lie is that this repudiation process could make enemies if it's invoked clumsily, inappropriately, or too often. This might happen, or it might not. If it does happen, the eventual result will be the relaxation of the content-protection requirements in order to protect the revenue stream.

"For example if there are unusual voltage
fluctuations, maybe some jitter on bus
signals, a slightly funny return code from
a function call, a device register that
doesn't contain quite the value that was
expected, or anything similar, a tilt bit
gets set."

Another clumsy lie. Nobody's building graphics cards with super-sensitive voltage comparators on the power-supply lines or bus signals. It's likely there will be software tell-tales. If these are badly implemented or exploited by malware, they'll be removed.

"'Cannot go to market until it works to
specification... potentially more respins
of hardware' -- ATI."

How is this different than any other generation of hardware? Sheesh.

"Apart from the massive headache that this
poses to device manufacturers, it also
imposes additional increased costs beyond
the ones incurred simply by having to lay
out board designs in a suboptimal manner."

Nonsense. This is like the old arguments against clean-burning engines. It turns out it's cheaper and easier in the long run to do it the right way. Plus, signals that can easily be intercepted have to carry encrypted data anyway. The only places that unprotected digital video could be intercepted are inside chips.

"Increased Cost due to Requirement to License
Unnecessary Third-party IP"

This section is also nonsense. There are hundreds of chips in the world that contain unlicensed IP-- because the functionality is disabled. At least as a first-order effect, the only chip costs due to IP licensing will be for chips that actually expose the licensed functionality.

"Unnecessary CPU Resource Consumption"

Completely false. The only thing that really matters here is the effort required to decrypt pre-authored content. Apart from a stopgap solution here or there, this will always be done in hardware. Gutmann goes on to admit as much in the very next section, too. Every graphics-chip vendor is putting 100% of the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray processing stack into hardware. CPU utilization will go DOWN with these implementations-- almost to zero, in fact-- not up.

Most of this section is just heartburn over the fact that marginal codecs aren't mainstream codecs. Oh, well. Better skill next time.

"Final Thoughts"

Well, that's pretentious. He never STARTED thinking clearly about the issue. It's all just knee-jerk mumbo-jumbo.

"In July 2006, Cory Doctorow published an
analysis of the anti-competitive nature of
Apple's iTunes copy-restriction system."

One thoughtless crank referencing another. Brilliant.

. png

(Originally posted by: Peter G. at December 28, 2006 12:12 AM)

Dean HardingFebruary 12, 2007 8:56 PM

To all those saying that Linux or OS X plays content just fine thank-you-very-much, the point of the DRM in Vista is that Linux and OS X *WILL NOT* play HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc just fine WITHOUT exactly the same draconian DRM that Vista has.

If that doesn't matter to you, then you're free to stick with Linux or OS X. But if that doesn't matter to you, then all of the DRM stuff in Vista will simply sit there, not being used.

So if you don't play HD-DVD or Blu-Ray discs, then it DOESN'T MATTER whether you have Windows XP, Vista, Linux or OS X -- they all function identically. If you DO want to play HD-DVD or Blu-Rays discs (on a PC), then you have no choice but to use Vista because it's the only one with the DRM required to play them.

In short, don't boycott Vista -- boycott HD-DVD/Blu-Ray.

Ctrl-Alt-DelFebruary 12, 2007 9:28 PM

I have a first-hand experience with existing "content provider" mandated DRM staring me in the face.

My laptop (running XP) came with a region-limited DVD player. I can change the region a limited number of times - and it's already changed twice. I live in Region 4. During the next year I will be visiting: China (Region 6), Russia (Region 5), Europe (Region 2) and SouthEast Asia (Region 3). If I want to watch any locally-produced DVDs I acquire as I travel, I'll need to change regions for each DVD - except that if I do, my freebies will quickly run out and my player will be permanently locked down.

I will then legally own a bunch of legally acquired DVDs that I can't play in my legally acquired hardware. The content providers will have my money and I will have nothing: this does not strike me as equitable.

My only recourse if I want to watch my DVDs will be to break the regional encoding on my player. Which is, of course, illegal, but is what I will probably do.

Regional encoding is a grotesque historical example of how DRM can go wrong. It never achieved its objectives but the collateral damage from it just goes on and on.

I see nothing in any of the postings about Vista's DRM that persuades me that Microsoft have considered equivalent Catch 22 situations that they will impose on users. On the contrary, it's an externality to them and to the "content providers" and they've chosen to spend their effort trying to make sure I can't do to Vista what I plan to do to my laptop's DRM-crippled DVD player. They'll fail, but since they're not the ones footing the bill, they don't care.

BTW, avoiding Vista's DRM by turning to Apple or other commercial OS probably is not a good long-term strategy. If Microsoft get their system accepted, this will force other OS's to follow or be locked out. Just as happened with regional encoding. The fact that the DRM will be largely ineffective won't have any effect.

quincunxFebruary 12, 2007 9:44 PM

@ UNTER

'No, that's not a contradiction. Outside any game, there's always a meta-game about the rules of the internal game. This is the system that enforces the rules, and by definition it must fall outside of the rules of the inner game, in order to avoid an internal recursion.'

This doesn't make any sense if you escape into meta-physics land.

There are no people outside the market to enforce rules on the market. The people that control the apparatus of the state LIVE within the market system, they privately get their goods & services like everyone else. It is what they do in the name of the public that is criminal.

There is no game. Society is built bottom up, not top down. This may be difficult to observe since we've already come a long way.

But the most important thing is, not everyone follows the rules! And why they don't follow the rules is precisely because they realize how ridiculous they are.

'My question is simply empirical: has there ever been a system where, in your terms, the market wasn't being run by the bandit?'

Well since the most basic block of the market is two people engaging in mutually beneficial trade, and since society has never been the supposed Hobbesian state of nature (otherwise there would be no society), it is clear that yes no bandits are needed to oversee any exchange. Civilization is not created by bandits, but the common understanding among people that life can be improved through cooperation. Those people that do not feel that way and engage in banditry, are properly labeled so, and commonly repelled by people, associations, privately funded defense, and yes governments (but only if it is in their interest). There is no need for this activity to be monopolized.

'Or is it, on the ground, evident that the bandit is part of the market,'

Yes!

'just like the cartel running the NFL is part of football, even though they don't actually play by the rules of football?'

Cartels are not inherently bad - it is what they do that counts.

The market is not like football. Football is an actual game. The market is our means for survival and livelyhood. Football is just for entertainment.

@ Ctrl-Alt-Del

' On the contrary, it's an externality to them and to the "content providers" and they've chosen to spend their effort trying to make sure I can't do to Vista what I plan to do to my laptop's DRM-crippled DVD player.'

An externality is when a third party is effected because of the trade actions of the original two parties.

There is no extenality between you (the purchaser) and MS (the software provider).

'They'll fail, but since they're not the ones footing the bill, they don't care.'

They already foot the bill for the software. The investors will be footing the bill when it fails.

merkelcellcancerFebruary 12, 2007 9:48 PM

Bottom line, this is the last version of a microsoft operating system (win XP) that I will own or operate.

Any new computer or laptop I purchase will be without an operating system on demand or I will not make the purchase.

Simple choice. There are other operating systems available.

CoyoteFebruary 12, 2007 10:01 PM

Bruce

Why, oh why, are you being just as much a kook as Gutmann? Peter is a crypto genius, maybe you are too, but please don't say your an expert on something you won't even try.

Run Vista for a while. Actually see it do all of these things you say it won't do. Rip a CD to unprotected MP3? Check! Play stuff from Bittorrent in WMP? Check! DVD ripping? OK, nope, but guess what? Mac OS X won't rip a DVD out of the box either. Linux will, if you have some form of DeCSS, which is exactly what will enable OSX and Vista to do it as well! DeCSS, Handbrake, DVDShrink, all of these violate the DMCA. That is something NO corporation like Apple or MS is going to touch.
Sure, Vista supports DRM like AACS, PlaysForSure, and the insane restrictions on CableCARD. Supported, not mandatory: Vista does not force DRM on unprotected content. But if it was DRM-free, it would be content-free. No provider would trust it. If it didn't peoperly enforce said DRM, it might actually be illegal. Blame bad laws, RIAA, MPAA, but NOT MICROSOFT. If you don't like the protection on CableCARD or HD-DVD, show it! Don't buy them! If you do still want them, you're not going to find a legal, supported alternative to Windows that will remove the DRM on them.

UNTERFebruary 12, 2007 10:11 PM

@quincunx:
This doesn't make any sense if you escape into meta-physics land.
=====

My statements weren't meta-physics. Just old fashioned cybernetics. The market is a "game" in that tradition. And it requires a context, that is enforced: by people, by conglomerates, by physics, etc. It's a game in that its a socially-constructed transaction. Of course, the rule-makers are not insulated in any real system, and you end up with recursions in the corners, but any sane system is going to minimize them -- so the King is not exactly a buyer since he's the taxer and minter, his soldiers have a special resource allocations system, yadda-yadda-yadda.

========
Well since the most basic block of the market is two people engaging in mutually beneficial trade, and since society has never been the supposed Hobbesian state of nature (otherwise there would be no society), it is clear that yes no bandits are needed to oversee any exchange.
========

Two people trading is not the same as a market, just like two cells is not a multi-cellular organism. The dynamics grow very quickly as the number of people increase: it's a factorial. Leading quickly to an inability for people to use the same set of skills and strategies for regulating their relationships. With say five people, I can track all alliances, all altruism, all cheating while asleep -- that's pre-wired. Once a real market is developed, numbering hundreds of people, I no longer know what's going on intuitively. Implicit rules no longer work; explicit rules and external enforcement become necessary.

So the answer I was looking for was of the form: in year X, there was a town of 10,000 people with a market every Tuesday, where there was no police, no taxation authority which functioned well for 125 years, and failed under the onslaught of the Y's. Or somesuch.

I've never been able to find a record of such, or had an example given to me. And with evidence going back almost 10k, I would expect evidence of such if it was practically possible; I doubt that it's even theoretically possible, but that's a trickier proposition.

quincunxFebruary 12, 2007 11:06 PM

@ UNTER

'The market is a "game" in that tradition.'

You can come up with all sorts of paradigms: cybernetics, biological, physical all you want, but none is useful for understanding what actually happens in the market, for that you need economics.

'It's a game in that its a socially-constructed transaction.'

No, you have the free will to reject the rest of society.

'Leading quickly to an inability for people to use the same set of skills and strategies for regulating their relationships.'

The market does not need to incorporate all the various types of relationships to work. You can get along just fine by not agressing against anyone, and if you do - then you have obviously established the fact that you may be treated the same way.

The only thing you need is to understand is simple justice: don't kill, don't steel. This is something that any functioning member of society understands (whether or not they stick to it).

'Once a real market is developed, numbering hundreds of people, I no longer know what's going on intuitively.'

Why would you have to know what everyone else is doing?

'Implicit rules no longer work; explicit rules and external enforcement become necessary.'

You have not established why this external force must be a monopoly.

If there are a hundred people, and one of them starts to attack me - anyone is free to defend me, and I'm free to ask for it as well as take up arms myself. Why is it necessary for one of these 100 people to be solely in charge of defense?

Why can't I make defense contracts by myself? Why can't I insure myself against aggression with anyone willing to provide such coverage?

'So the answer I was looking for was of the form: in year X, there was a town of 10,000 people with a market every Tuesday, where there was no police, no taxation authority which functioned well for 125 years, and failed under the onslaught of the Y's. Or somesuch.'

Market every Tuesday? People are engage in trade all the time. 10,000 would not survive if goods were exchanged only on Tuesday.

You must have not looked hard enough because there were a few.

Midevil Iceland and Ireland qualifies. I don't know about populations, but many Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and Polish tribes also qualify.

BTW, there was no public police in the US until 1838 (Boston, IIRC).

IgorFebruary 12, 2007 11:11 PM

>He should have said "complexity"...

Complexity always means added cost so it ends up the same.

>I believe this is wrong...
>I'm pretty sure that digital audio may
>be transmitted at CD quality levels...

Your beliefs are based on ignorance.
44.1kHz audio is not something you want
to hear from SACD or DVD-A disc.

>If not, people may just have to give up
>on doing full-duplex voice communications
>while simultaneously using the PC to play
>protected high-def content.

And that is exactly what many gamers do --
use voice chat in game, and listen to some
music in background. So if the music is 5.1
96kHz/24 bit, it will get downsampled and
even game audio will get further distorted.
Why would anyone sane want to accept that
given the money involved in setting such
high quality entertainment system is beyond
me.

>No medical-imaging system in the world is
>ever going to use the kind of content protection

Using power of 3D to render high resolution
X-ray scans is something many do today on a PC.
But if the video driver gets revoked...

>These sections are ridiculous.
>This is a clumsy lie.

Open source community will not be able to
implement decryption and hardware acceleration
of high-definition content because that part
of functionality will be considered violation
of hardware vendor's IP.

>Another clumsy lie.

People are already experiencing graphics
subsystem reboots under Vista so the only
lies seem to come from you so far.

>How is this different than any other
>generation of hardware?

It is because specifications are changing
at third-party will (Hollywood) and are
not governed by consumer interests or by
pure technicality.

>Nonsense.

No, _you_ are complete nonsense.

Hardware should be designed by engineers
and not by corrupted senators which are
on a Hollywood payrol.

>This section is also nonsense.

Last time I checked video playback didn't
need HDCP or HDMI. It was and it still is
possible and in better quality with less
hassle over DVI. So shut the fsck up or
share that money you got from Microsoft
for propaganda with all of us if you want
us to share your distorted point of view.

>Completely false.

When have you last tried to play 1080p clip
on a high-end hardware?
Have you checked CPU utilization by any chance?

I think not. Let me clear something out for you:

1920 * 1080 * 3 = 6220800 bytes per FRAME.
6220800 * 30 (NTSC) = 186624000 bytes per SECOND.
186624000 / 1024 = 182250KB/sec = 178MB per SECOND.

So, even for a high-end CPU that is a considerable
amount of work. Next time check your facts before playing smart.

NOMICROSOFTFebruary 13, 2007 12:08 AM

FUCK MICROSOFT

People need to TURN THEIR BACKS FOREVER on this company.

STOP using their products
STOP watching their advertisements
BLOCK their website from loading on your system
REFUSE to use Microsoft Windows
ENCOURAGE others to switch to other operating systems such as Linux
DO NOT give in to using Microsoft products again

People are waking up

Now it's time to go to the Governments and free the preloads at the OEMs and STOP Windows from being the ONLY preloaded choice!

STOP SENDING MONEY TO MICROSOFT

WHO CARES about Microsoft and if they will ever change, how many YEARS have you put up with frustration because of their products?

FUCK THEM stop using their products FOREVER

Just turn your back on them, the time is way overdue

JUST SAY "NO" TO MICROSOFT!

MaryFebruary 13, 2007 12:11 AM

When people say:

"WINDOWS IS A GAMING PLATFORM"
"YOU NEED WINDOWS FOR GAMES"

IT IS BULLSHIT

It is because STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS continue to pigeon hole themselves through the CLOSED DirectX software

STOP developing for DirectX
STOP gearing your specs for DirectX
STOP making your graphics cards tweaked for DirectX

STOP DEVELOPING FOR MICROSOFT!

Don't you get it? Windows isn't the issue, DirectX is!

You want gaming on several platforms? THEN STOP CLOSING YOURSELF TO OTHER OPTIONS!

STOP DEVELOPING FOR DIRECTX!!!!!

KesxexFebruary 13, 2007 3:15 AM

The trouble is not so much Vista's DRM features for now but the precedent it sets in how my computer is controlled by a corporation.
So far MS is looking over my shoulder (WGA) but not too much interfering in how I use it.

Vista changes this model. Out of the box Vista allows MS to control what is and what is not working on my computer.
Quite frankly this allows them to change their business model from selling once and supporting it for free to sell once and support for money (patent in motion: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/...

As I see it this allows MS to even more to control what I do with my computer (which after all I bought myself).
Vista in my opinion is just a first step from Microsoft to see how far they can gain control over their users and lock them into MS.
Going forward what will stop MS from stopping certain software to execute in the name of security? As the majority of users will not complain and with feasible arguments against the government's probes of monopoly exploitation there is nothing to stop MS from taking over control of "Joe Average"'s computer.

And DRM ? Let's see, in a few months there will be Hi-Def players out there for most platforms (cracks to make them run on Vista too), the pirates will be able to produce Hi-Def movies and other entertainment that works better and smoother for "Joe Average" and actually Hollywood will make even less money thus causing stink in US legislation to protect them from the "bad" pirates.

Personally I like to buy my movies. But as I see it I will be forced by MS and Hollywood to get illegal copies just to have them working on my computer.
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

And for Vista? Aye, time to learn about Linux and run dual boot systems. Linux to do the work and Windows XP for gaming.

RonFebruary 13, 2007 3:41 AM

> it DOESN'T MATTER whether you have Windows XP, Vista, Linux or OS X -- they all function identically.

I beg to differ here...

AlexFebruary 13, 2007 4:21 AM

@Mary
>"STOP DEVELOPING FOR DIRECTX!!!!!"


do you remember the "good old time"? where you actually had do configure each game... and one third wouldn't launch afterwards?

hm... i think i like directX

ChristianFebruary 13, 2007 4:57 AM

"To all those saying that Linux or OS X plays content just fine thank-you-very-much, the point of the DRM in Vista is that Linux and OS X *WILL NOT* play HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc just fine WITHOUT exactly the same draconian DRM that Vista has."

Ehh... yes it will. It's as simple as:
1. Crack the HD-DVD/Bluray DRM.
2. Play the content on your favorite Linux media player. If we are lucky we soon have a player that does the cracking on-the-fly while playing.

Illegal in some countries that have DMCA and similar laws? Who cares? It's not like you are going to get busted for it, and it's not even immoral. Actually you are morally obliged to do it. Unjust stupid laws SHOULD be ignored and broken against as much as possible.

ChristianFebruary 13, 2007 5:02 AM

"do you remember the "good old time"? where you actually had do configure each game... and one third wouldn't launch afterwards?"

It was never so bad, and you still have to configure each game to a large degree. The only thing I can think of not requiring hardware config and did before is the sound card, but that is pretty much moot now directx or no directx. In both Windows and Linux you now use the sound card through the OS and it's sound system, not directly.

Besides, if a developer insist in having a middle layer between his game and the OS there is always SDL (libsdl.org) which is equivalent to DirectX but free and cross platform.

PaeniteoFebruary 13, 2007 6:02 AM

@Kesxex (and others): "Linux to do the work and Windows XP for gaming."

AFAIK, wine does a quite good job to run games under Linux. I have heard that people run World of Warcraft on a Linux system, for example.
Plus, there is Cedega (1), which is supposed to be even more compatible with even more games.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedega

ajacksonianFebruary 13, 2007 6:41 AM

The last version of Windows that I actually liked to some degree was NT 4.0. With 2k I spent time turning *off* features, and lots of them. With XP to run on x64 machines I turn *off* features to a fare-thee-well. My actual, useful, feature set is limited, and the only real improvements have been in addressing the actual physical memory and disk sizes that one can buy for a computer. I really don't like proprietary format types for media and spend time finding ways to re-encode them so that I am not stuck with just one format and take losses between them. The Open Source community has addressed this with various means and methods and my program code-base is slowly moving in that direction. For personal use that code base, however, does not encompass all that is what I seek to do from my system and having to become a LINUX/UNIX guru to go back to configuration files and such just isn't in the cards for me at this stage in life. WINE is helping and when I can get 100% assurance of all my usability needs *and* my code base working via it, plus the ability to do all my configuration needs done without ever, once, having to go back to a command line, then I will seriously consider *that* as a viable alternative.

It is *not* the efficiency of operations of Open Source operating systems that I am seeking. It is the ability for me to re-use existing, paid-for software in a relatively easy-to-use manner that is a prime requirement. I spend time turning off interface bells and whistles, and just want to be able to remember where I can set my configuration to be user friendly to *me* not to the LINUX coders. I appreciate all the hard work that has been done on *all* Open Source software and try to get donations to those pieces that I use, along with individuals who make their software available for free and ask for a pittance in return. That is a right and good way to do things. So long as I do not have to pull open a configuration file, remember command line syntax and obscure names and option switches for them, and the entirety of all of *that* can be hidden from view in a way that lets me use my system in the way I prefer to use it, that is my goal.

When that day comes I will gladly never pay another red cent to Microsoft. And I think that millions of others will *too*. LINUX has *always* been faster and more reliable. That is *not* the question. Usability has been the key along with software support for me as an individual, not as an industrial outlook. And if Windows Vista wants to do a plethora of things that I find no use for and detract from my needs then it, too, can sit on the shelves. Because the final question is: 'Which of these alternatives takes the least crowbar to make fit my needs?' Zero is optimal and the industry and coders still aren't there yet.

ThomasFebruary 13, 2007 7:55 AM

Topics like this always brings out the "fundamentalists".
As far as I know there is no media that I can play in Mac and XP that I cannot also play in Vista. On the contrary, in addition to everything I can play on XP, it allows me to also play the HD-DVD and Blue Ray that I cannot play otherwise.

If Vista was limited to play only DRM protected material, it would be bad, but that is not the case. It plays all non-DRM material as well.

If we should boycot anything, we should boycot the DRM protected material.

Colossal SquidFebruary 13, 2007 8:04 AM

quincunx, two questions:
(i) What do you hope to achieve with your interminable screeds?
(ii) Wouldn't it be simpler just to get your own blog?

mdsFebruary 13, 2007 9:06 AM

Doesn't Mac OS X include DRM? I'm thinking of iTunes and the default DVD player in Mac OS X...

LizuFebruary 13, 2007 9:24 AM

@Mary:

""WINDOWS IS A GAMING PLATFORM"
"YOU NEED WINDOWS FOR GAMES"

IT IS BULLSHIT

It is because STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS continue to pigeon hole themselves through the CLOSED DirectX software

STOP developing for DirectX
STOP gearing your specs for DirectX
STOP making your graphics cards tweaked for DirectX

STOP DEVELOPING FOR MICROSOFT!"

Sure. Once I start developing my own gaming software and creating my own games, I'll get right on that.

However, for those of us who actually buy games at the store so we can waste out lives in front of pixels, that's not an option.

I guess I *could* just stop playing video games all together until the developers decide to stop making games on DirectX. But (and this goes out to all the Linux Fundies out there as well) it is not MY fault that the developers are playing to the highest common denominator. I am not going to pay more to have a Mac so I can play less than a third of the games I wish to indulge in, and where I run Linux for what I find it useful for, gaming is not one of those things. I don't like WINE, it does not work as smoothly as running a game in its native environment, which is Windows. I'm sorry if that gets my geek badge revoked or whatever, but it's facts.

It's easy for some people to sit on their high horse and demand everyone make the switch to Linux. I look at all operating systems as they are tools, NOT A NEW RELIGION. I don't need to evangelize or convert people. If I'm "talking shop" with someone, and what they need seems to be Linux, *BSD, or whatever, I'm going to give them my honest opinion.

Unfortunately, if they are primarily using a machine for recreational gaming, I'm going to tell them to stick with Windows. If you want to flame someone for "developing for DirectX", flame the actual DEVELOPERS, not the end-users. The majority of people are not software developers. The majority of people are just using whatever software is on the shelf, and they want it to work right out of the box... without having to do a bunch of tweaking and configuring and making sure that they have this or that emulator.

A lot of computer people often forget that the majority of users are "I-D-10-T" problems waiting to happen, and the Linux/UNIX/*BSD world isn't very luser-friendly. Someone who is new to Windows gets their proverbial hands held through the process of learning to use it... someone new to the Linux world gets a hefty dose of flames and RTFMs, with an extra shot of "STFU, noob".

Talk about all the LiveCDs and various flavors you want, but as long as Linux users, in general, hold themselves apart as being "superior" to the average computer user, you're not going to see a mass migration to that platform. The current user-base is too rude and full of themselves to be of any use to anyone who might have considered the switch.

I digress.

The point is, if PC gaming is a major hobby of yours, Windows is pretty much your best option. Otherwise, you're not going to be able to play everything you want to play.

If you want to blame someone for that, please take it up with the developers, and quit slamming the end-users. They didn't make the game, and telling them "well, just don't play it because it [ is DirectX, won't run on Linux, won't run on Mac, whatever]" isn't an option. You're just going to further alienate that sector of the population.

MasterofGuitarsFebruary 13, 2007 9:31 AM

@John

Interesting point about the marketing efforts of Linux. The Ubuntu project has some money behind it. Why don't we see some nice shiny adverts on TV for Ubuntu? Why doesn't someone have a decent effort at shipping preinstalled Linux systems? As you noted, some big players do but only for server environments.

I love using Linux and have it on my machine at home which triple boots between a choice if Vista, XP and Ubuntu. I love using Linux for the same reasons as most people, i.e. freedom of choice and the ability to see *exactly* what is going on in the machine when you want to and have complete control over everything.

But the reason the big players won't ship Linux as a desktop (imho) is that it is a little too easy to break something due to excessive fiddling around. Could you imagine my mum on the end of the phone after just inducing her first kernel panic or ASCII-art Xorg.conf warning?

People want an OS that doesn't break and until Linux can promise that, Windows will be there for people who don't like tinkering with the settings too much. Whether we all like it or not.

Visitors to my home marvel at my aiglx desktop with it's transparency, desktop cube, window animations etc... but none of this works out of the box yet. And I can't recommend to any of them that they use Linux if they want it for the flashy bits because they can take a lot of time and experimenting to make them work.

I suspect that much of these things will work with the next ubuntu release but even so, I think it will be a long time before any big resellers will advocate it as a desktop. I will wait for that day with baited breath though!

And I do recommend that anyone with a sense of adventure, curiosity and the patience and time to spend on making your operating system "your own" to download and install pretty much any Linux distro, but ubuntu is probably the easiest.

But I confess, I like using a few clever and flashy industry standard programs for video editing and website design and unfortunately these only run under windows or mac. So until they are ported to linux systems, I am "trapped" as mr Schneier put it. And I suspect that this might be what he meant. Bruce, if you read this, do you only use MS or do you only rely on it for certain things that can't be done in other os's?

As others have said, I'm sure there will be workarounds for these drm issues. Perhaps VLC will be able to play blue ray discs and stream the content to an mpeg4 or something. It wouldn't surprise me! They be clever folk!

Bruce SchneierFebruary 13, 2007 9:31 AM

"Hollywood would only be too happy to go, period, as they really didn't want their content on those pesky PCs in the first place. If all people did was slide the shiny little disc into the shiny little region-encoded DRM-protected DVD player they'd be estatic."

I don't think so. I think they know that the computer is the future of their product, and have no choice but to make it available for the computer. They'd much prefer DRM -- at least mostly -- but they'd cave if Microsoft forced their hand.

SceptreFebruary 13, 2007 9:37 AM

@Colossal Squid

Funny you should ask that. I was wondering as well. I have composed a short advisory message that I will post on topics that quincunx takes an interest in. See my next post.

SceptreFebruary 13, 2007 9:41 AM

Blog Advisory: quincunx
Version 1.0
Released 13 February 2007
===================

There is an individual who frequently posts comments to the Bruce Schneier's security blog
using the pseuonym 'quincunx'. Although this blog is a security blog, quincunx's real interest is in debating Anarcho-capitalism. If you wish to know more about Anarcho-Capitalism, more information is available on Wikipedia. Be advised that quincunx never admits being wrong about anything concerning Anarcho-capitalism and appears to have an insatiable appetite for debating Anarcho-capitalism. If you are not interested in Anarcho-capitalism, then you may wish to consider not replying to his posts. If the readers of Bruce Schneier's blog ignore quincunx's posts, quincunx may eventually lose interest in the blog. Under no circumstances should you engage quincunx with comments unless you wish to debate Anarcho-capitalism.

Matthew SkalaFebruary 13, 2007 9:51 AM

The Darknet paper was from Microsoft Research. Microsoft Research is very much independent of Microsoft's OS and applications arms, for sound business and scientific reasons. One result of the research arm's independence is that sometimes the more product-oriented parts of the company make decisions that the researchers know are bad decisions. That's a loss for the business side, but it can't really be any other way: if they tied their research more directly to the interests of the business side, then it wouldn't be scientifically sound, and they wouldn't get even the benefits they currently do.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2007 10:06 AM

Actually, people who play video games a lot are NOT the "highest common denominator" but the lowest.

quincunx likes to waste his time trying to convert the masses. When he grows up he'll realize what a waste it is and mind his own business.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2007 10:10 AM

Tha didn't come out quite right; I meant more "take care of his own business and let everyone else's brains continue rotting."

IgorFebruary 13, 2007 10:13 AM

>it is not MY fault that the developers are playing to the highest common denominator.

1. Yes, it is your fault.
2. Untrue.

If you as a consumer decline to buy any DirectX based game and buy only OpenGL titles (preferably with Linux and Mac port) then they would not write them using DirectX.

Highest common denominator for all systems which have 3D support is OpenGL which is open industry standard where IHVs together decide on featureset and API. DirectX is closed and only Microsoft decides the specs, others play by their tune.

The only way to kill Microsoft is to kill DirectX. Xbox would be busted without it. Windows too. Those are two largest sources of income and platform popularity.

Unfortunately, there is to many game developers who want to get rich quick and DirectX is their way of doing it.

I can bet that Crysis could have been written using OpenGL. That is a game I would never pay for because it will be a cornerstone of Vista adoption.

LizuFebruary 13, 2007 10:31 AM

@ Igor:

"Unfortunately, there is to many game developers who want to get rich quick and DirectX is their way of doing it."

Yes, because money talks.

I'm not going to stop gaming because I've got some sort of religious crisis over Linux vs. Windows.

If developers make money making games that are DirectX, then good for them. People have to make money so they can get a paycheck so they can pay bills. Welcome to your capitalistic society at work.

I think if people stopped treating operating systems like life choices and more like what they are-- a user interface for a machine --then maybe something useful might occur.

Until then, everyone is screaming "mine's bigger", not taking account of the fact that this post wasn't about that at all.

Vista has bugs. So does Linux. And Mac. Nothing is perfect.

The issue in this post was DRM, and how that is affecting Vista. So far, the machine I have that's running Vista doesn't seem to have any issues... but then again, I don't use content with DRM.

-shrug-

StefanFebruary 13, 2007 10:49 AM

@Alan
It is actually Stasi (STaats SIcherheit) and you'd better not think, any other intelligence service is better than they have been. I am not advocating them, I just don't think, they deserve to be ranked lower than others.

Ben RosengartFebruary 13, 2007 11:01 AM

Stuck with Windows? I think you are making a mistake, Bruce. Many people vastly overestimate the amount of effort involved in throwing off the Windows yoke. Are you one of them?

markFebruary 13, 2007 11:10 AM

I have no idea of how Vista would actually impact me, but as someone who uses his PC primarily to edit original audio and video I'm spooked enough to never go to Vista. But I also dislike Mac for their approach to DRM and their attempts to monopolize electronic music distribution. Linux is swell for my home PC, but it still doesn't have many of the high end tools I used in my work. At this point I just hope the open source community picks up the pieces and soon. Apple and MS have made a huge mess with their broken technologies. Apple HW is overpriced and underpowered, and MS promises to use all your CPU keeping you from having decent quality in your work.... Gees.

UNTERFebruary 13, 2007 11:14 AM

@quincunx:

Give me a reference. Give me an explicit example. And yes, I do want a formal market, one that is capable of supporting a large community, and not just bartering pigs for chickens.

Additionally, it needs to be one not protected by a military force, whether police or some kind of standing army. Medieval iceland might qualify; I would need more information on their organization. Your other examples do not; on continental Europe and Ireland their were quite sophisticated military apparatuses associated with the governing organization, going back past the Iron Age.

It's time to put up with an explicit example of how such a system functions. Unless you are simply suggesting a return to a simple, nomadic existence consisting of horticulture, hunting and bartering. And that is not a model transferable to say, computer security (Don't know where I pulled that one from...)

boboFebruary 13, 2007 11:33 AM

NoMicrosoft is absolutely correct. Just stop buying and investing money in a company that has no ethics or redeeming qualities and who think your all a bunch of dummies. You prove it by continuing to do so and then whine about how your trapped.

I'm not trapped. Windows is gone from everywhere except one spot and XP will soon disappear as well.

The xbox 360 has way more to do with taking over Hollywood than Vista. It's their hoped version of iTunes. A pile of crap as well as anyone who is on their 3rd or fourth failed one will tell you.

The PS3 is based on Linux, Java, OpenGL, mp3, mp4, jpeg and a real web browser that doesn't lock you into even Sony's content. You can go wherever you want today - even MS or Apple. No such choice with MS and the 360 despite their slogans.

The rootkit fiasco was Sony BMG..not Sony Playstation. Sony Playstation is moving in the direction Bruce talks about in terms of re-thinking their position..just look at what the PS3 is actually built around. OpenGL vs MS Directx. MS is moving in the opposite direction and locking you in even deeper so they can fleece you even more than they do with windows - and using the windows monopoly to do so.

Given the crap they produce you have no else to blame but yourselves. No one MAKES me use windows at home. No one.

Governments are also wasting billions and billions of your dollars on windows and Office - you should be suing them for not using Linux and OpenOffice and wasting your money .. and yet your outraged by Enron. Give me a break.


C GomezFebruary 13, 2007 11:46 AM

So, the claim here is that the studios are backing down and they may decide to give up on DRM, but the content distributors (Apple via iTunes and MSFT via whatever) will want to keep it?

I dunno. I honestly think that's a little tenuous. The best way to sell devices like iPods is through features. It hs recently been estimated that only 3% of music on all iPods is DRM'd, which means people are still buying CDs and stealing from friends or the Internet. Yet, Apple could care less. iTunes is a tiny piece of the business. The real business is selling iPods.

Vista is far too great an upgrade for me to pass up just on features I don't care about. I don't buy DRM'd files. In my household you'll find an two iPods, a Zune, and a Dell DJ 15. All of them play the same music. It's just not a big deal.

REAL TechnologistFebruary 13, 2007 12:23 PM

You're revealing the typial ignorance of the average journalist.

Please keep your bias to yourself and actually LEARN the technology before you comment.

VerbosFebruary 13, 2007 1:06 PM

Remember "Tron"? He was trying to find the 'all wise' user to fix the problem. That's where we are now.

BrianFebruary 13, 2007 1:10 PM

@bobo:
Are you seriously advocating that everyone jump ship from one company with closed and locked standards to another company that's equally closed and locked, simply because they use open standards to build their closed and locked product? Buying a PS3 means buying a BluRay player, which means supporting a closed and locked standard.

Just because the DRM fiasco happened in a different division of the company doesn't make Sony (Playstation) any less responsible.

In addition, everyone here saying that it's easy to give up Microsoft and its products must not work for an employer who is a major Microsoft customer. I can own as many Macs and Linux boxes as I want, but I'm supporting Microsoft every day by coming to work. Getting a new job is far harder than getting a new OS.

rdivilbissFebruary 13, 2007 1:24 PM

I'm okay with Hollywood wanting to protect their copyright. But I also want my fair use.

I do not feel any compelling need to buy Vista, or HD-DVDs, so I won't.

But for all the mudslinging here, the obvious point is simply neither Hollywood, nor apparently MS wants you to have the rights afforded under the current laws in the US.

OS and platforms are irrellevant in this issue. You do not need to purchase DRM materials. It is a choice.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2007 1:28 PM

I have a few days left to return my Vista
Premium. Now you have me wondering
what I should do. I haven't had any
trouble with it, but I don't do anything
big with it. Maybe I should get the XP.

warp99February 13, 2007 1:39 PM

@quincunx:
What do you mean by 'supported'?
What do you mean by 'military force'?

For globalism to work, America can't be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is....The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist...McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. – Thomas Friedman, from "What the World Needs Now" in the New York Times and Illustrated by an American Flag on a fist.

Need I say more?

Pat CahalanFebruary 13, 2007 1:45 PM

With regards to the many people's posts that follow Nick's:

Bruce> "most of us are stuck on Windows"

Nick> I'm sorry, Bruce, I think that's a cop-out.

This is most certainly not a cop-out. Individual users may decide to run whatever the heck they want on their own personal computers, but most organizations don't allow their members to buy or use whatever they want on their corporate or institutional network.

Most organizations have internal political issues with operating systems, it is true, but it is a gross oversimplification to say that you always have a choice.

Your internal IT department may mandate Windows for your work PC. Internal application servers may require ActiveX for functionality. You may have a corporate Exchange environment. And, of course, all of your customers may send you Office documents.

Yes, I know Open Office does a good job of porting Office documents -> it's not, however, 100% reliable, particularly in regards to layout issues. Any document conversion problem has to be fixed, either by the user, or by the helpdesk staff, and in either case represents a loss of productivity and a higher TCO.

The question of moving an organization to a different operating system base is one that has a million side effects. Such a transition is not to be undertaken lightly.

Taking that one step farther -> if you're using Windows at work, all day, every day, a very strong argument could be made that it is foolish to run another OS at home. Everything about your UI is going to require either context switching, or retraining your brain or unlearning and relearning simple tasks. You may regard this as worthwhile work (I do, personally, but then I an OS agnostic, and I support everything, so I need to learn at least basic functions on every OS).

However, "stuck on Windows", while it may be a simplification, is a functional reality for a large population of users.

Sheesh, if I forced all my relatives to switch to Mac OS X or Linux to keep their current "free support" conduit, my personal help line (ie, my cell phone) would suffer a serious, several-orders-of-magnitude uptick in usage...

Anne O'NeimausFebruary 13, 2007 1:48 PM

@quincunx, UNTER: "Additionally, it needs to be one not protected by a military force, whether police or some kind of standing army. Medieval iceland might qualify; "

Medieval Iceland (indeed, all stable communities) had an effective army. An all-volunteer militia with little or no formal training or organization, maybe - but still willing to employ armed force to repel invaders and bandits, and to expel community members who didn't "play by the rules" (i.e. obey the law).

I categorically reject quincunx' assertion that it isn't a government unless it levies taxes and oppresses people. A government is any entity and methodology that governs. This may be ad-hoc, relying on convention and tradition - but it is still a government.
Besides, even an informal ad-hoc government effectively levies taxes in terms of uncompensated labor requirements: whatever communal improvements to the local environment get made by consensus or individual initiative still require actual work. Even at a strictly Tribal/Clan-based/Familial government level, people are expected to contribute towards the "common good", or be treated as a burden to the community.

XellosFebruary 13, 2007 2:19 PM

@Peter G.

Perhaps it's being ignored because it isn't much of a "debunking"?

"This point sounds important but he never backs it up"

It's a pretty straight-forward extrapolation. DRM requires that the people who view the content also and at the same time not be able to view the content, depend on what their intentions are. The whole A and Not-A at the same time thing is probably what he's talking about.

"I believe this is wrong." (regarding audio)

No, it is actually correct, but I do have to admit I'm not sure how relevant it will be. Unless SACD or similar is being talked about, I don't think it's going to be a very important factor, and how many people use their PC to listen to DVD-Audio?

"This is grossly overstated because it implies this happens all the time."

This apparently happens more than you believe it does. There have been some interesting posts on Slashdot lately by people working on graphics card drivers (ATI and nVidia employees). From what they say, this DOES happen all the time, which is part of the reason the current Vista video drivers stink on ice.

"No medical-imaging system in the world is ever going to use the kind of content protection"

Again, yes, they do. Can't recall if it was Slashdot or here, but people who actually work with the things have indicated that they are indeed wrapped in DRM.

"The only thing the open-source software movement won't get is enough information to let them violate the intellectual-property rights of the hardware vendors and content creators."

Ad hominem attacks now?

I agree he's overstating, but it's hard to deny that Microsoft isn't gaining some significant leverage here to push just that.

"The truth hiding behind the lie is that this repudiation process could make enemies if it's invoked clumsily, inappropriately, or too often."

It was put in place, and there have been multiple breaches in a matter of weeks. If they don't follow through and start revoking (note that we're not just talking volume keys now), what was the point?

--"Another clumsy lie. Nobody's building graphics cards with super-sensitive voltage comparators"

Which has nothing to do with the tilt bit problems. Again, look at Slashdot for some info on this, for example this post:
http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?...

"There are hundreds of chips in the world that contain unlicensed IP-- because the functionality is disabled."

Er... HDCP support is mandatory if you're going to play "protected" content. How can it be disabled? There's pretty clearly some extra licensing fees here, and they're not insignificant. It's getting (past?) to the point where the licensing costs in making a stand-alone DVD player outweight the actual component and assembly costs.

Anyway, there's definitely more to this than you're looking at.

trsm.mckayFebruary 13, 2007 2:56 PM

One point that I have not seen yet, is that we have recent history showing that not every media product has to be on the computer - SACD and DVD-A.

It is kind of a mixed message, because SACD and DVD-A are hardly wild successes, in part I think because they did not have computer or car players. But this (IMHO) weakens the central tenant of Bruce's argument - that HD-DVD and BluRay NEEDED computer playback devices.

Still, the inclusion of computer play back devices is probably the only mistake that HD-DVD and BluRay have not made (format war - check, extra copy protection - check, more expensive media - check). As much of an audiophile as I am, the overall value of the offering is what matters most. Even though I care more about audio and video quality than most, I have yet to buy any of these products because of the overall poor value. Extra DRM does not help this equation!

quincunxFebruary 13, 2007 3:18 PM

@ Anne

'Medieval Iceland (indeed, all stable communities) had an effective army. An all-volunteer militia with little or no formal training or organization, maybe - but still willing to employ armed force to repel invaders and bandits, and to expel community members who didn't "play by the rules" (i.e. obey the law).'

That is not a state. It was not a monopoly organization. It was a polycentric legal system. Armies are a must for defense, but the moment they agressed against you - you had a recourse to go to a competing one. They were not your legitimate sovereigns to which you must subordinate yourself as a general rule of thumb.

'I categorically reject quincunx' assertion that it isn't a government unless it levies taxes and oppresses people.'

Fine - you don't like the word I used - I already defined what I meant. The world is covered by States, they are typically called governments, uncritically.

If you wish to define government as a positive thing (a body that governs) then what I wish for is totally voluntary competitive governments for the services of law, courts, and defense.

'A government is any entity and methodology that governs.'

Yes, but I believe I made it clear that I was talking about a specific type of government. A monopoly institution which you can not avoid: the State.

If you don't like (for example) the drug laws in the US, and you wish to light up a joint and say 'today I wish to be represented by the government of X, because X doesn't care about drugs', could you get away it? No - you are obligated to bow down to the edicts of your territorial monopolist. But if you could, then you would be FREE.

@ Sceptre

"Although this blog is a security blog, quincunx's real interest is in debating Anarcho-capitalism"

And Economics. Which he openly admits. Why?

Because he believes that Security should always be considered within the context of private property rights. Something we don't have much of these days.

All the wonderful technological methods that can improve your security mean diddly squat if one assigns any responsibility of providing security to any monopoly organization.

Let's see, 200 million deaths by States in the 20th century - oh yeah, let's assign more security responsibilities to those organizations! We just need to tweak the laws a little and then everything will be just right.

X the UnknownFebruary 13, 2007 3:18 PM

@quincunx: "Market share is NOT monopoly."

Excuse me? That is pretty near the definition of monopoly. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly:

"monopoly (from the Latin word monopolium - Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods."

Persistent market situation...only one provider...lack of viable substitute goods. Sounds a whole lot like Microsoft and it Windows-based product suite hegemony.

geekWithA.45February 13, 2007 3:32 PM

As the owner of a system,

I, and I alone, am the final authority on what shall and shall not run.

System features incompatible with this central reality are evidence that my system is under the control of entities whose intentions and hostility position towards my interests are unknown.

X the UnknownFebruary 13, 2007 3:40 PM

@trsm.mckay: "One point that I have not seen yet, is that we have recent history showing that not every media product has to be on the computer - SACD and DVD-A."

On the other hand, consumer electronics tend to be rather expensive, in the aggregate. And personal computers are continually having their capabilities "enhanced". We are definitely heading in the direction of computer-based "home entertainment systems" - they already exist, although they are not terribly common, yet. The flexibility and utility provided by having a general-purpose computer interface with, and control, your entertainment devices is just too compelling. Even the most Luddite media companies can see this one coming.

TimFebruary 13, 2007 3:49 PM

I do not go to the movies, and I am positively finished buying DVD's or music CD's. The RIAA and MPAA are greedy, filthy bastards who can take their crap and shove it back where the sun don't shine, where it belongs.

As for Windows--I haven't owned a Microsoft product in 8 years. I use Ubuntu Linux for everything, and I can do everything I want to do with a computer, including recording and editing video and music.

To hell with Microsoft!

X the UnknownFebruary 13, 2007 3:58 PM

@geekWithA.45: "As the owner of a system, I, and I alone, am the final authority on what shall and shall not run."

As a content provider (or functionality provider, such as O/S or Media-Player), I'd love to be able to lock in consumer dependency on continual support (and support contracts).

As a consumer, I am willing to pay a fair price for a product, but once I buy it, I feel I should be able to use it when, where, and how I want.

As a society, we are now in an ongoing struggle about the merits and implementations of these competing desires.

As a consumer, I think the current DRM offerings are too restrictive of my rights; if I'm right, then "the market" will eventually shift to suppress these forms of DRM - just as most forms of floppy-disk copy-protection went away for all but the most high-value products.

As a citizen, however, I am worried about many of the implications of the current crop of DRM, and the various laws and executive regulations that support it. Arbitrarily asserting control over systems and equipment that I have purchased for personal use, even to the point of requiring an external communication channel to be periodically enabled, strikes me as "wrong". Especially if I am legally restricted from even investigating the control mechanism, but just have to trust that it's not doing anything inimical to me. Particularly when the control mechanism is expressly described as doing something inimical to me, in terms of what I believe I should be able to do with my own equipment.

Historically, societies have frequently imposed various limitations on the use (and even ownership) of private goods. In the U.S.A., the average citizen cannot legally own a functional Naval Gun and stockpile of ammunition. By the raw numbers, however, (s)he can own and operate a more-deadly weapon: an automobile. But even this has legal restrictions on when, where, and how it can be used.

The question is, as a society, how much freedom or restriction to we want to allow or impose on the ownership and operation of one of the most-revolutionary and powerful tools available: the computer? This is arguably a "basic tool", like the wheel or the lever, except what it enhances is mind-power rather than physical force.

Personally, I favor more personal freedom and less externally-imposed restriction. However, I don't think it is quite as simple an issue as it at first seems. The incredible flexibility, operational speed, and infrastructural ubiquitousness of computers means that there are many unexpected consequences, vulnerabilities, and (naturally) valuable utilities implied by our choice. It will (and already is) radically shape our society and economy.

IgorFebruary 13, 2007 4:28 PM

>I'm not going to stop gaming because I've got some
>sort of religious crisis over Linux vs. Windows.

I never advocated for Linux as such. That is not the
point.

You should stop gaming to be able to have a choice in
the future. If you don't see that as a good cause then
I can only feel sorry for you.

>a user interface for a machine

Last time I checked, "user interface" you are talking
about wasn't dictating what you can and what you can't
do on a PC.

>The issue in this post was DRM

True, but you are missing the part where you conciously
lock yourself in with Microsoft DRM by supporting games
written only for DirectX.

>People have to make money so they can get a paycheck so
>they can pay bills.

You are helping wrong people to pay their bills.

Anne O'NeimausFebruary 13, 2007 4:50 PM

@quincunx: "Why can't I make defense contracts by myself? Why can't I insure myself against aggression with anyone willing to provide such coverage?"

You certainly could, in your "ideal society". However, it would quickly turn out that a few specialists were significantly better than the average person at organizing and providing defense (or food, or shoes, or any other service or commodity). Specialization is one of the hallmarks of "advanced civilization".

As population grows, the trend has definitely been towards establishing relatively-unified control over ever-larger sections of territory. Those who resisted this trend (for example, the city-states of Ancient Greece) tended to get overwhelmed by those who were already applying this principle.

It only takes one skilled and charismatic military leader to start a wave of conquest that no disorganized group of sovereign individuals can hope to resist. The leader can easily (if possibly falsely) show followers that they will be better off following his/her plan, at the expense of the conquered. Thus, by applying "selfish economics", individuals given the opportunity often join with the would-be conqueror.

Historically, the only effective preventative measure that people have come up with against this tendency, is centralized defense (or a totally nomadic lifestyle - which has questionable efficacy for a population of any significant size). Whether this is standing army/police, hired mercenaries/guards, or citizen militia, it still has to be equipped, trained, and organized to be effective. That, in turn, means that it has to be funded.

In an idealized world of almost superhuman "Intelligent, Conscientious, Enlightened Anarchists" such as the mythical world of Null-A (for Non-Aristotelean) proposed by A. E. vanVogt, maybe this would work without creating a "state" (as you define a monopolistic government).

In the real world, people don't seem to be capable of regularly making the kind of far-reaching and introspective analysis required to regularly come to the same conclusions as to "the best" approach to every situation as each other. Thus, they can't effectively coordinate behavior without active "guidance" from a focused specialist, or governor (in the technical sense, not the political sense - although they tend to be the same, in practice).

In some (admittedly rare) cases, this supervision is willingly delegated by the citizens, giving up some of their freedoms in return for the greater efficacy of having a professional governor for whatever activity is in question. In other cases, this governance is forcibly imposed. In most cases, it is a bit of both - the "social contract" is implicit in the continued functioning of society, but the inertia-filled functionaries of that society (generally, bureaucracies) tend to actively support and maintain themselves at the expense of the general populace.

I don't know of any Utopian society that has much outlived its founders - and most didn't last even one lifetime. I would class the theoretical "Enlightened Anarchy" as a Utopian society. The evolved societies that we do have, and have had in the past, have been none too stable either. But, at least many have been viable for periods of time between centuries and millennia. The relatively stable ones have tended towards some form of "statehood". It's what actually works, in practice.

The Constitutional United States is something of an anomaly. It has aspects of an artificially-created, Utopian, society. However, it was firmly based upon an existing system - mostly the British society - and explicitly defaults to British Common Law, which is part of an evolved system of governance. On the other hand, the jury is still out on how "stable" our system is. We have a long way to go before we catch up with the track-record of either Republican Rome or Imperial Rome.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2007 4:57 PM

@ Quincunx

"An externality is when a third party is effected because of the trade actions of the original two parties.

"There is no extenality between you (the purchaser) and MS (the software provider)."

The "original two parties" in the case of my laptops's DVD player are the major media companies and the hardware/software vendors, who between them agreed, devised and imposed the regional encoding scheme in order to protect market share and restrict piracy. The international traveller who wants to play commercial DVDs purchased on the road is a third party.

"They already foot the bill for the software. The investors will be footing the bill when it fails."

The agreement between the "content providers" and Microsoft impacts me but Microsoft does not bear MY cost of rectifying that impact (money to upgrade hardware, time and money to find alternative software, time and effort working around limitations, etc). They carry only their own cost of developing the software. The rest is external to them.

UNTERFebruary 13, 2007 5:05 PM

@Anne:

You're barking up the wrong tree. Quincunx finally answered my question. His ideal is a society composed of semi-feudal clans warring against each other, à la medieval Iceland. Where laws are advanced basically by the combination of being the biggest and most charismatic guy around, able to gang your family up against others. Where the market is a temporary truce of warring factions, like the Olympic festival in Greece, or the Althing in Iceland.

He's at least realistic enough to not advance a mythical Enlightened Anarchy, but an idealized tribalism. I had actually expected a nomadic example, which is much closer to individual freedom, but I guess then the scale limitations would have been too obvious.

RDFebruary 13, 2007 5:44 PM

@quincunx
>If you don't like (for example) the drug laws in the US, and you wish to light up a joint and say 'today I wish to be represented by the government of X, because X doesn't care about drugs', could you get away it? No - you are obligated to bow down to the edicts of your territorial monopolist. But if you could, then you would be FREE.

Please give an example, contemporary or historical, where this kind of freedom has been the law of the land.

I understand your assertion. I'm just not coming up with any examples of when it's ever been tried, much less worked.

However, I can think of examples where violating local or regional tradition could get you killed, despite the territorial monopolist's laws stating otherwise.

bobFebruary 13, 2007 6:08 PM

@ quincunx
"You can't have computer security without physical security, which is why discussion must always come back to it."

Do you have safe, cheap drinking water, reliable access to food, a decent shelter? Can you leave your shelter and move in public without unreasonable fear of imminent assault or death? Do you have money, goods, property that you own right now? If those were taken from you, do you have access to courts in which you can pursue redress? Are you able to criticize or advocate the removal of the government that claims territorial monopoly over your place of residence?

If so, then you already have physical security. Or at least sufficient security for the luxury of posting on this blog, vehemently decrying the "territorial monopolist" whose stability and physical security you enjoy.

If this level of security is insufficient to allay your fears, perhaps it is your fears that are unreasonable, rather than the physical security.

bobFebruary 13, 2007 6:15 PM

@ Anne
"... the inertia-filled functionaries of that society (generally, bureaucracies) tend to actively support and maintain themselves at the expense of the general populace."

Until the expense becomes too high. Then the populace revolts.

They can revolt in many different ways, but starting over from scratch is rarely one of them. Transition costs are usually perceived as being too high.

quincunxFebruary 13, 2007 7:48 PM

@ X the unknown

"Excuse me? That is pretty near the definition of monopoly. From"

That article is totally biased in favor of the modified view of monopoly advanced by the economics profession since the 1920s as an ex-post-facto rationale for government intervention that was already in place for decades.

The problem with their methodology is that they create ideal models that do not exist in the real world - and then condemn the real world for not fitting in to their models.

The classic definition (one that is correct and conforms to historic evidence) is that a monopoly is a privilege or grant by the State. Monopolies can also occur by a specific set of laws that disproportionally props up certain companies over others. I think Microsoft is one of them but NOT because of their market share.

In Microsoft's case I believe those laws are IP and anti-tinkering. These laws VIOLATE the real physical property of other people, and therefore they should be removed COMPLETELY.

@ Anne

'You certainly could, in your "ideal society". However, it would quickly turn out that a few specialists were significantly better than the average person at organizing and providing defense'

Yes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Just because there are a few specialists does not mean that they will merge. Otherwise we'd see natural 100% monoplies created de novo in places without gov regulation.

Natural organizations have a natural size restriction, at which it becomes impossible to operate economically.
The state, even though it can expropriate a large quantity of funds from its slaves, cannot even perform what its operators wish, either. The Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea are prime examples of what happens when you monopolize everything into one big blob. The only difference between these nations and the social democratic ones is only in degree, not in kind.

"It only takes one skilled and charismatic military leader to start a wave of conquest that no disorganized group of sovereign individuals can hope to resist. "

Well the US has had a difficult time conquering the peoples of X (where X is a subset of at least 20 countries) for the last 110 years.

Also, in order for this charismatic leader to succeed he already must have his hands on a couple of tools that have been created for him in the past. In other words, the State must already exist for him, in order for him to exploit his population by duping them into supporting a war with a bestial enemy outside the nations borders.

"Historically, the only effective preventative measure that people have come up with against this tendency, is centralized defense (or a totally nomadic lifestyle - which has questionable efficacy for a population of any significant size). Whether this is standing army/police, hired mercenaries/guards, or citizen militia, it still has to be equipped, trained, and organized to be effective. That, in turn, means that it has to be funded."

State vs State has the best recorded history, and typically only one wins. You have proven that centralized defense doesn't necessarily work either.

My contention is that those nations with a decentralized army, and a cultural respect for self-defense are much more difficult to conquer because there is no central authority that speaks on their behalf. A centralized authority can be conquered by acquiring the property this authority claims to itself. So if you can get the capital city, you already have all the tools you need (that the central authority put in place for you) to exploit the population to your advantage.

If those exploitative institutions do not exist - well then you have to go out and attempt to kill everyone who disagrees with your presence. The host population always outnumbers the parasites, and therefore this task is extremely difficult to accomplish. Furthermore, the whole point of the expedition was to tax and regulate the populace - if you have to fight for it you are only incurring expenses and no revenue.

"In an idealized world of almost superhuman "Intelligent, Conscientious, Enlightened Anarchists" such as the mythical world of Null-A (for Non-Aristotelean) proposed by A. E. vanVogt, maybe this would work without creating a "state" (as you define a monopolistic government)."

You don't have to be superintelligent to not aggress against others.

'I don't know of any Utopian society that has much outlived its founders - and most didn't last even one lifetime. I would class the theoretical "Enlightened Anarchy" as a Utopian society.'

The problem is that a lot of resources are spent on duping the public. Afterall, as you say, in order to have a society, people must at least tacitly approve of the state's legitimacy. But if that legitimacy is based on false scientific arguments (which it is, politics is the ANTI-economics) then people end up approving an organization that creates serious conflict and not peace. They essentially approve of the very thing that robs them blind.

My brand of anarchism is not Utopian. Utopianism is a centrally PLANNED society. Not aggressing against anyone is simply the creed that modern societies promulgate but in no way follow.

"It's what actually works, in practice."

Works for who?

@ UNTER

"Quincunx finally answered my question. His ideal is a society composed of semi-feudal clans warring against each other, à la medieval Iceland."

No I propose a society where you can buy defense insurance, just like you can buy auto insurance, medical insurance, etc.

"Where laws are advanced basically by the combination of being the biggest and most charismatic guy around, able to gang your family up against others. "

OK, you really do know nothing about the topic, so your conclusion is to go with the popular perception of what life was like back then.

"I had actually expected a nomadic example, which is much closer to individual freedom, but I guess then the scale limitations would have been too obvious. "

Individual freedom existed somewhat during the midevil period in certain societies.

Therefore, your conclusion is that individual freedom leads to a midevil-like culture. Well, sir that is a logical fallacy.

@ bob

"Do you have safe, cheap drinking water, reliable access to food, a decent shelter? Can you leave your shelter and move in public without unreasonable fear of imminent assault or death? Do you have money, goods, property that you own right now?"

Are you suggesting that I should be awed at this amazing level of service, even though the things you mentioned were available at a better price with better service when the private sector were still operating them?

"If those were taken from you, do you have access to courts in which you can pursue redress?"

Maybe. That depends on whether they found articles in my home that where considered contraband or some developer decided that my property would be a good place to build a hospital, and my local politicians agreed with him.

"If so, then you already have physical security."

Well that's great. It's a good thing the choice has been made for me. I should just shut up and enjoy the high prices I pay for this crappy service that can at any time in the future be cut away from me.

"If this level of security is insufficient to allay your fears, perhaps it is your fears that are unreasonable, rather than the physical security."

The security you're getting is not stable - it is worsening. I'd rather be aware of it, and profit from it (thank you dot com bubble!), and suggest to others how they can too. It's the sensible thing to do - even if harsh criticism and ridicule is then directed at me.

UNTERFebruary 13, 2007 8:04 PM

@quincunx:
No I propose a society where you can buy defense insurance, just like you can buy auto insurance, medical insurance, etc.
===========

See, this is where you come in as entertainment value. I've asked numerous times for an actual existing example of such a society. You could have said, "No, as a matter of fact none has ever existed." But what you say is that medieval Iceland is the kind of society you're taking about. Then you say, no its defense insurance! But, as an aside, feudal societies weren't so bad, and my dissing them is just ignorance.

Be clear! Be transparent! Specify what you want, instead of going around in circles. Do you want a militaristic, theocratically dominated state like the late medieval period? The tribal/sheikdom organization of the early medieval period, tied with priestly kleptocracy? The tribal/band organization of prehistory? Should things look like New Guinea? Or are you suggesting a completely new form of organization, unlike any the world has known?

If so, just say it: "there may be no such example in history, but I suggest that market forces would allow the hiring of defence without any democratic legitimacy; market forces will avoid brigandage." That seems to be what you are suggesting.

If that's your suggestion, then I can ask, well why has it never happened before? What is different about today? If it's not, well, once again: Put up! Say, yes, I want medieval iceland or whatever example you want, specific with dates, locations, background.

AnonymousFebruary 13, 2007 8:15 PM

@quincunx:
>No I propose a society where you can buy defense insurance, ...

What state would permit that? Your proposing a civil war. Is that cost effective?

quincunxFebruary 13, 2007 8:53 PM

@ UNTER

"See, this is where you come in as entertainment value. I've asked numerous times for an actual existing example of such a society."

And even if it never existed, just like socialism did not exist until the 20th century, what would be your point?

'You could have said, "No, as a matter of fact none has ever existed."'

But I would be lying, since there were some that came amazingly close.

'But what you say is that medieval Iceland is the kind of society you're taking about.'

No, there are property and legal aspects in that society that are close to what I have in mind.

That does not mean I agree with the mysticism and the irrationalities that were around at that primitive stage in history.

"Then you say, no its defense insurance! But, as an aside, feudal societies weren't so bad, and my dissing them is just ignorance."

These were not feudal societies. There was no local monopoly of unjust land&slave ownership - the main characteristic of a feudal society.

You can even test that, and see how these societies treated their women unlike the feudal societies:

Celtic women achieved high positions in society and a standing which their sisters in the majority of other contemporary European societies did not have. They were able to govern; they played an active part in political; social and religious life. They could be warriors, doctors, physicians, judges and poets. They could own property and remain the owner even when married. They had sexual freedom, were free to choose their partners and divorce, and could claim damages if molested. Celtic women could, and often did, lead their men into battle.

They didn't even have to fight for their rights! They always had them.

" Do you want a militaristic, theocratically dominated state like the late medieval period?"

You see this is a problem you have, you think the medieval period was exactly the same everywhere.

" Or are you suggesting a completely new form of organization, unlike any the world has known?"

Take the old legal precedents and modify them to conform to modern knowledge, and then apply them.

"If that's your suggestion, then I can ask, well why has it never happened before? "

Because the only arguments we had back then were moral ones.

Today we have moral, utilitarian, consequentialist, and mostly importantly economic ones. We have also have witnessed the amazing spectacle of what happens when you take the organization of the state to its utmost limit: totalitarianism. Do not think for a second that this is not possible in the US, in fact it's most likely - all the key institutions are in place.

We have learned that our past is ridled with an endless battle of liberty vs. power that keeps repeating over and over again across the globe for our entire history. The fatal mistake in every case is giving over ANY amount of power to a central authority.

UNTERFebruary 13, 2007 9:33 PM

@quincunx:

Alright we're starting to get somewhere.
1) No such society has ever existed. But, you claim, some have come close.
2) The difference between now and then is the number of arguments you feel that your point of view can marshall now, that they couldn't at any point in the past.

This is like pulling teeth. So, what you propose, I would guess is a propaganda/culture "war" to convert some percentage of the global population to your point of view, which would then be self-sustaining. How much of the world needs to be converted, for the mass of folks to take control of all weaponry, etc? Since today there exists technological differences, such as nukes, how will those be handled, specifically in any transition? Will those be handled via some form of insurance?

So the image I get is of a basically tribal/sheikdom organization, since that is your examples, but with access to high technology. Is bartering include? Or competing presses producing currency?

Since kinship bonds were the dominant form of relationships in those societies, with a hierarchy of interlocking families forming them, would that be repeated, and if so, how would high levels of specialization be supported -- that was one of the advantages of the "bandit" style societies over their predecessors. If not kinship bonds, I don't see the analogy.

To clarify, there was great diversity in the earlier medieval period, before full consolidation of church power. In the later period, there was relatively little. The church managed to pressure most states to unify their essential regulations, such as marriage (see any history of Germanic law for examples); I believe the model you're shooting for is closer to "Dark Ages" Europe than the later medieval period. I think the problem you have is that you're not finely differentiating the actual period you want to reference. Specificity is everything. By the late medieval period, there was precious little "Celtic" society left, with Anglo domination in Ireland and England, Frankish domination throughout France, etc...

RalphFebruary 13, 2007 11:06 PM

Bruce,

I don't know if you read this far down a thread...

Good debate that needs to be had. Keep at it.

bobFebruary 13, 2007 11:30 PM

@quincunx
>Are you suggesting that I should be awed at this amazing level of service,

No, I'm suggesting that if you have a certain level of physical security, that you could start talking about computer security.

Since you didn't reply by saying "I don't have water, food, or shelter" or "I'm incarcerated and can't freely walk about", or anything else but a vague complaint about cost and quality of service, I'm guessing you do have those basic amenities. Which would make it possible for you to talk about computer security. For once.


>even though the things you mentioned were available at a better price with better service when the private sector were still operating them?"

There are places in the USA where such services are still privately owned and operated. You could move there, if private ownership is really as important to you as it seems.

You might lose some amenities, since many such places are smaller communities, and you'd have to pay the transitional costs of moving, but "If it is right, then any movement toward it would also be right..." [1]

[1] http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/08/...

Non-AnonFebruary 14, 2007 12:25 AM

Bruce, Is there some way I could filter out the string "quincunx"?

BTW, my wife got a job with DHS. Based on your observations of a year or two ago I told her what she would see. She saw. She quit.

This gov't. is made up of smoke and (broken) mirrors. I have stopped being a realist and become a full-time cynic.

Anne O'NeimausFebruary 14, 2007 12:48 AM

@quincunx: "Are you suggesting that I should be awed at this amazing level of service, even though the things you mentioned were available at a better price with better service when the private sector were still operating them?"

Well, "You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go; I owe my soul to the company store..."

This pretty much sums up the common feeling about "...better price with better service when the private sector were still operating them". Unfettered capitalism, with its tendency to concentrate both wealth and power, lead the monied few to aggressively exploit the less-empowered masses. Until, that is, the masses organize in opposition (unions, political movements, and other cooperatives).

The classic case against an unregulated liaise-faire economy is the advent of Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly. This was a textbook example of "free market optimization" at its best (or worst, depending on viewpoint). Little or no government influence was involved. In fact, Roosevelt's attempts to use the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to reign in some of the excesses were largely unsuccessful, until the Supreme Court finally intervened (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USArockefeller.htm).

Anne O'NeimausFebruary 14, 2007 12:50 AM


@quincunx: "Corporations existed long before the State got into the act of perverting it."

No, they didn't. Collective business entities may well have existed for a long time, but the modern corporation is a very recent development. Even ancient (Roman-era) corporations, however, involved explicit State sanction.

A corporation is a state-recognized legal fiction that is allowed many of the rights and privileges of a "natural person", while explicitly protecting the principals from many forms of legal responsibility and redress. It can't exist (indeed, is meaningless) without State sanction.

Furthermore, the modern "extreme" version, which essentially grants an incorporeal entity most of the rights of a citizen with few of the corresponding obligations and limitations is the product of a possibly-biased court reporter (Mr. John Chandler Bancroft Davis,) rendering a demonstrably invalid summary (in a "headnote") about the nature and meaning of a Supreme Court ruling in 1866 (Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad).

SuSeFanFebruary 14, 2007 3:10 AM

I can see a golden market for hardware manufacturers in China. I predict that most people are prepared to pay *more* money for components without DRM. I know I would.

IgorFebruary 14, 2007 5:04 AM

"We have also have witnessed the amazing spectacle of what happens when you take the organization of the state to its utmost limit: totalitarianism. Do not think for a second that this is not possible in the US, in fact it's most likely - all the key institutions are in place."

Quoted for truth.

"The fatal mistake in every case is giving over ANY amount of power to a central authority."

Ditto.

The more I read, the more clearly I see quincunx's points.

In our time, nothing is secure, so there can't be such a thing as "computer security". You can secure your computer using hardware and software to whatever degree you want but the feds can come to your home and take it away. With physical access to it, they can do anything they want.

Likewise, if you give Microsoft (remote) control over how your computer works, and let them decide what is trusted to run on it and what is not (which translates into what you can use it for!), then you already gave up on your own security because they can revoke your usage rights as they please and you as an individual can't do anything about it because you willingly accepted it in that devilish EULA which you never bothered to read.

I am most annoyed by the fact that most software vendors think they own your soul AND your hardware.

While the first I might have to accept in order to use their software, I won't, under any circumstances accept hardware functionality limiting they would like to impose. I have paid full price of hardware and I want to use it as I see fit.

Imagine if you bought a car and in order to use it, you have to install software which imposes restrictions on your usage patterns. For example you can drive yourself to work, but you can't drive your spouse or your children to school the same day. You can drive them whenever and wherever you want as long as you don't drive yourself to work that day.

As a developer for example I am facing that situation because of DRM. I can't use a kernel debugger to debug applications and drivers I write and certain applications (Adobe Photoshop, games, etc) together on a single computer.

I will explain the situation with Vista DRM by using simple maid analogy -- imagine a maid which comes to help you keep your house in order but she only agrees to work (for the money you already gave her!) if you close and lock down all house doors and windows so that nobody can get in or out while she is there and she doesn't care at all if she interferes with your work.

For me, that is unacceptable. After all software is just a "maid" for me. It helps our work by offloading stupid repetitive tasks from us and should be as transparent and unobtrusive as possible.

CridFebruary 14, 2007 6:21 AM

Found your blog though Pual H: dfenestrator.blogspot dotcom.

I've become a windows portable app superfreak, for easy of backup and "reinstallation". It's insult enough that XP won't let you use keyboard shortcuts to portable apps, as W2K would. Vista makes this worse. After loading the trial version of of V. last week, I noticed that local, installed apps (IE etc) had crisp, pretty text, whereas the portable apps (portable opera, p/Firefox, P/VLC, everything) had extra mosquito noise around the text as well as diminished contrast. There was no way around it.

I can't believe there isn't some punk lawyer at the SEC who doesn't want to put a notch in his pistol with Microsoft over this.

burlingkFebruary 14, 2007 6:43 AM

The option I am working towards for me is simple. I will run GNU/Linux on my computer. In order to do that and keep everything legal, I will purchase a separate device for viewing movies, or keep a windowsXP Partition for that purpose.
:-)

There was once upon a time when that was the normal thing to do anyway (get a DVD player I mean).

JacquesFebruary 14, 2007 7:26 AM

Does XP not work anymore? I thought that after 2 service packs, the beta everyone of you had purchased was close to release candidate!

What's wrong with you all? Do you think if you don't use the latest toy from Microsoft/NSA, you won't be able to breathe? Do you need the Vista obeseware alibi to buy a brand new Core 2 Duo powered computer?

I don't.

I run GNU/Linux on a P4 PC I assembled many years ago (because I didn't want to pay the M$ Tax), and it works very well, though I make software updates every day. I need no antivirus because viruses and worms are all Windows applications that exploit Windows flaws, I need no defrag program because Linux knows how to use the hard disk very efficiently, not like Windows that voluntarily fragments the drive because it cuts the files and spreads them wherever it finds free clusters. I am happy of not having to spend money buying very powerful hardware just to fit the greeds of this unsecure, ugly obeseware system, that spends all CPU time looking if the user is not trying to screw it up, and that stole from Mozilla XUL technology of XML User Interface Language Definition, and that uses a 3D desktop available under Linux since ages. That porky Ballmer should recognize that he and his company are just crooks instead of saying the Linux people stole M$ intellectual property.

What makes me jump to the ceiling, is to hear people say they will have to buy new and powerful hardware because Vista is Here! If it were because they needed a new version of some kind of critical software that used more memory, or a brand new processor, I'd understand. Instead it is just to run an operating system. In reality, it is to fall into the dark world of digital slavery, drm, "freedom" to give your money and to shut up, to let Microsoft/NSA look into your privacy and lock or erase whatever they want, but actually to spy non-us citizens and companies. Vista is the best US strategic weapon (it spies and brings money home!).

All Vista will do is to turn half PCs of the planet into e-wastes that will poison poor people in Asia.

Most people think money is the only important thing in the world. When the planet is dead because of human activity, greed and misrespect of our environment, then money will be the only thing thing people will have to eat.

I think it is all about freedom. Technology, when in the hands of honest persons who are keen on working to make the world better and the human beings happy, can be an invaluable gift. But in the real world, stock holders need to turn people into brainless paying slaves. And then, technology in the hands of those nazis is evil.

So now is the time to definitely boycott Microsoft/NSA piracy software. Good luck to you all victims who begin to open your eyes just as if a strangler had awakened you, seeing your future entering suddenly in the darkness, and feeling like lambs the farmer is taking to the slaughterhouse.

Now I know I was right to move to GNU/Linux, and to have said long time ago: Astalavista Windows!

Russell McOrmondFebruary 14, 2007 10:22 AM

What is really locking people into Vista that want to watch high-definition content isn't "DRM", but the legal protection for DRM. All DRM will always be trivial to circumvent (effectively they have to violate the laws of physics to work), and we would be able to legally watch our legally acquired content on the hardware/software combinations of our own choosing if it were not for so-called "anti-circumvention laws".

In Canada we have a petition to the Canadian Government on this issue.

Petition to protect Information Technology property rights
http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/ict/


If you are a Canadian, please print out, sign, and send us your signature. If yo aren't Canadian, please consider setting up a similar petition to your government. We need to not only help countries who have not yet ratified the 1996 WIPO treaties (such as Canada) to avoid it, but to also convince policy makers to go back to WIPO and fix these treaties which (as Bruce points out) will decimate the content industry just as much as it harms everyone else.

W^L+February 14, 2007 11:42 AM

I wish we'd be more honest. "Digital rights management" is a euphemism--fancy words to make something sound better--for "technological usage restrictions." We should stop playing the feel-good-speak game and call it TUR instead of DRM.

I am against theft and in favor of both users and the individuals that create the music, software, movies and other "content" we consume. I do think we pay too much attention to the desires of faceless, amoral corporations, and too little attention to the individuals that actually produce and purchase "content." Until this changes, we will continue to have corporations trying to find new ways to limit our usage and hinder our enjoyment. We will also have legal and illegal operations seeking to break this corporate control.

Fred McKinneyFebruary 14, 2007 4:30 PM

Bruce, you've hit it right on the money. Count me in as another Linux user, which I have been since January of 2005, and I switched for two main reasons:

1) I decided I would eventually switch to Linux when I read about the "phone home" system in Windows XP back in late 2002 (I still had Windows 98 on my computer at the time), because the "phone home" system would lock you out if you upgraded your computer's parts -- and I like to tinker on occasion.

2) I finally left Windows for good in early 2005 when I was having a bunch of system crashes every 2 minutes or so (this was a hardware problem) on Windows 2000, even after a fresh re-install. I then decided I'd go for it and give some Linux CD's a try I'd recently burned and installed just that -- and much to my pleasant surprise, I found that Linux is a very highly capable Windows replacement and I've been hooked on Linux ever since! :-)

Unfortunately, I still have to use Windows XP at work, which is a real piece of bloatware crap compared to Linux. The more I use my Windows computer at work, the more I like my Linux box at home.

Oh, and Vista? I predict that Vista will wind up becoming about as good as Windows ME. Windows ME was a joke, and from all I've read about Vista, I consider it a joke as well.

Fred in St. Louis

polertsinfositeFebruary 14, 2007 7:04 PM

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/dating-directory/]dating directory[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/asian-dating/asian-dating-euro-online.php]asian dating euro online[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/sex-dating/mature-sex-dating.php]mature sex dating[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/single-dating/christian-free-dating-single.php]christian free dating single[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/internet-dating/dating-internet-online-personal-service.php]dating internet online personal service[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/russian-dating/bride-dating-hot-russian-ukraine-woman.php]bride dating hot russian ukraine woman[/URL]

[URL=http://www.polerts.info/single-dating/single-parent-dating-site.php]single parent dating site[/URL]

true or falseFebruary 14, 2007 7:16 PM

true or false

(1) Vista = US govt spyware, DRM police, big brother ?

(2) Vista = M$ owns your computer system, you pay M$ to rent a spyware appliance ?

(4) DRM = all consumers are content pirates ?

(5) Cost of DRM to IT industry and consumers > profits of Hollywood + music industry ?

(6) If hd movie or music = $1 ~ $2 then DRM and pirate copies don't bother ?

(8) If hd movie or music = $1 ~ $2 then hollywood/music industry increase overall profit ?

(9) Vista + DRM = M$ bye bye, hello linux/apple ?

Simon WardFebruary 15, 2007 6:11 AM

On a practical point, I would like to play HD-DVDs on my media PC. I can plug the XBox HD-DVD player in and play HD-DVD with one of the software players, e.g. PowerDVD. However, I have read that if certain devices do not support HDCP then I will either get no output or output degraded to DVD quality that defeats the whole point.
HDCP has already been cracked so it will not server its intended purpose of stopping professional pirates, and I understand that the ICT, which tells the player to degrade quality, will not be initially set on discs because people do not have the correct HDCP equipement. Furthermore, it seems that the software player must be decompressing the video stream in the clear because it is using the CPU. Therefore, someone can/will hack the players to totally negate HDCP.
Currently, I am not looking to by-pass HDCP, but I would like to know that I will see genuine HD content before I invest in any hardware/software. My projector is HDCP compliant, but I have read that NO graphics cards are HDCP compliant, so where do I stand? I am presuming that the HDCP confusion is what is stoping the sale of HD-DVD ROMs for PCs. If Microsoft can sell an XBox player for $200 then it cannot be anything to do with production.
Personally, I thing the "HD" part sounds great byt the "CP" part is a nightmare. It may well kill any uptake of HD discs and stall media PCs, but if it does then it will hopefully take down the DRM concept with it!

Andy from LondonFebruary 15, 2007 8:50 AM

Perhaps I should get a free copy of Vista with my cinema tickets and popcorn?

I'm holding off buying Vista till these kind of issues are more clearly resolved.

JamesFebruary 15, 2007 9:46 AM

Whenever you see a website say you need Windows Media Player to play back content, please take a few seconds to e-mail the webmaster and inform them of other choices like FREE formats: OGG VORBIS for example for audio and video which can be played back on most any platform.

Stop using Windows formats for your media, you can use OGG VORBIS on Windows, Linux, and other platforms for free without bowing to a convicted monopoly to use their closed format garbage.

ProhestFebruary 15, 2007 10:41 PM

Although its already been stated countless times, I too will not be purchasing a W$ OS ever again. I will however still have to obtain knowledge of its inner workings in relation to my work. So Bruce is completely right im am in fact stuck with M$.

I use and like Linux/*BSD, but it is still not mature as a serious alternative to M$ on the client side (go ahead and flame me, its still true).

The only reason i still use XP as a primary OS (with my other 11 OS's running through VMware) is simply the ability to the 1 game i just cant give up, if there were a (non cmd line) viable option to run in under Linux/*BSD i would have no reason whatsoever to keep XP. But Im a computergeek, my 60 year old parents do not have a choice at all. Linux is simply not an option for them, and I am certanly not willing to spend the amounts of time it would require to perform emergency phone support every time X chrashes (especially looking at you FreeBSD!).

Alexey KuznetsovFebruary 16, 2007 12:35 AM

Well. I'm IT department student of Novosibirsk State University. I've read you book (AC) and that's why I'm here :)

So. I agree with this article about Vista. I think there is some ways to solve this problem.

When I was at the 2nd grade I was interested why there no Win32 API course in our university. Only Unix, SVR4 cources... And now I undersnand why. Now I'm Linux user and I think that good education can solve many problems with Microsoft monopoly. Because the reason of this monopoly is low computer skills of home users. They think that there are no reasons to study how to work on computer.

IgorFebruary 16, 2007 5:05 AM

>OGG VORBIS

While I agree that we should avoid proprietary formats, I strongly disagree on your choice.

Good alternative to WMV is mpeg1, mpeg2, mpeg4 (aka DivX, Xvid) and also h.264 codec. Ogg vorbis is trash. Good alternative to wma is mp3, ac3, flac and monkey's audio but not ogg vorbis.

When you purchase portable mp3 or video player there is more chance that it will support other formats and not ogg so using ogg is a lock-in again.

Ben ChannellFebruary 16, 2007 5:06 AM

1. You may decide not to play HD movies on your pc but the DRM is always there scanning the PC (Slowing it down lover than WinXP)
2.Linux may have Gnome interface but so does Solaris and its supports 64Bit chips and far more secure, plus the job in Solaris pay more than Linux.
3. WinXP is not the most secure windows version and Vista is little better, that honour goes to Windows NT 3.51 (and had the wide HW support) it was killed off by MS as new MS products would not run on NT3.51 and force users to upgrade to NT4, Ill bet they do the same again.
4. How long will it be before the first Virus is written to use DRM to slow Vista PC so much you re-imaged, or causes a black screen because of a failure in DRM compliance, or worse the virus attaches as a system process on bootup using using random memory location you cannot remove from memory. you re-image load your email again bang back to rebuild, the nightmare you upgrade the HW vista stops (new licence required) upon rebuild the new HW is a different version/issue of DRM or supported by some of the Hollywood studios
5.Full drive encryption is available with Killgetty, nothing new and does not require a TPM chip, IF Vista had the Win FS :-)
6. I'm looking forward to Linux being available on the Xbox 360 and the return of Psion PDA's. may be like tommorow it never come :-((

leekFebruary 16, 2007 12:13 PM

[My friend's comments to this article appearing in CRYPTO-GRAM.]

"And you don't get to refuse them."

Well of course you can refuse them-- don't buy or use the operating system. Why do people insist on supporting vendors like this, and then fooling themselves into believing they have no options? I'm rather surprised dribble like this would appear in this publication.

[My response to him:]

When someone makes this kind of criticism, I don't take it too literally.

What I think the author meant was:

"If you want the other features of MS Windows you are accustomed to, or if you want to use an application for which MS Windows is the most practical or cost-effective solution for your business, or if your employer requires you to use MS Windows, then you don't get to refuse the DRM features, in Windows Vista at least."

Not everyone has the simple choice of using a free OS instead of MS Windows. There may be costs involved with choosing a free OS over MS Windows.

For some, the total costs of just using Windows are less than the alternatives. So they complain, on the hopes that it might change in a direction they like it to.

tessuraeaFebruary 17, 2007 4:55 AM

Just another voice chiming in for the viability of Linux as an alternative (well, several alternatives):

I installed Ubuntu on my 10-year-old ebayed laptop a while back. It was a very nearly painless process--a couple of minor tweaks made it work better, but it worked right away. Ran faster than the version of Windows that was pre-loaded too. I've installed Ubuntu on a couple of other machines, used Knoppix, and looked at other linux distros but saw no need to migrate. I'm happy with Ubuntu.

I've installed Windows XP at least a dozen times.

I can say--with absolute certainty--that Ubuntu's liveCD installation is much, much simpler than the Windows one. After Windows installs, you still have to install and update all the drivers for your hardware. That's a confusing process for newbie users. I've walked quite a few of them through it.

The primary reason users buy into the Windows monopoly is simply that the machines they buy have Windows preloaded. Many of them--most--couldn't install a new OS, or at least think they couldn't. As far as they're concerned, Windows is somehow an intrinsic part of the machine. They don't really know there's another choice that doesn't involve buying a new computer.

nick sFebruary 17, 2007 4:13 PM

I think we need to take a fundamental look at the problem. The problem exists in the licensing agreement between the artist and the end user and not the DRM. When you purchase a piece of media, you agree to the terms and conditions of that agreement, whether it's enforceable or not. Why not get rid of the license model and quantify the number of plays and create a universal format. When you want to buy a CD, you agree to a finite number of listens. For example, a track is good for 1000 plays. If you choose to share it on a p2p network, you're basically going to run out of plays. This would eliminate the rampant abuse of a piece of intellectual property. You could do something similar with movies.

EmeryFebruary 17, 2007 8:33 PM

After reading all of this after Peter Gutman's piece, all I can I say is no wonder Vista was years late.

The pressure of the marketplace will force a correction -- just like the stock market.

I use XP for two reasons -- iTunes, my iPod and Photoshop. Maybe after reading the Eula's maybe they are not really mine. Vista probably would not allow me to use iTunes at the standard I expect... because I ripped the CDs.

I know I could use Gimp, but I am so used to Photoshop. My Linux and Sun boxes sure run faster.

CecilFebruary 18, 2007 9:06 PM

I thought I'd add my two cents to the debate here.
I used to stick with Windows because I didn't know much about the alternatives (knew of them though). A couple of years ago, my oldest brother installed on version of Linux on my computer, and I haven't turned back since (I changed flavors, but that's neither here nor there).
About the gaming aspect, yes, most developers program for directx. I say most, because some companies actually do develop for OpenGL, such as id software (hate to plug, but had to use an example). They have made files to make their games run in Linux just as well as (if not better than) Windows. I play Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory every day, and some days I tinker in GTKRadiant to create Quake 3 maps.
Unfortunately, I'm hard pressed to find another example of another gaming company in the PC business that uses OpenGL.

Well, hope that was informative.

EricFebruary 19, 2007 12:34 PM

The bottom line here is that each company will do whatever it takes (within the limit of the law and let's hope so) to maximize their profit. Microsoft and other companies are doing the same thing. Their business models are focusing in one thing and only one thing and that one thing is to make money.

It's not about what's right or wrong for the consumers. It's about how much more money can they make. So whatever decision that Microsoft and other companies make, it's all based on maximizing their profit. If by putting DRM in Vista to help Microsoft to be a more dominant player in the industry therefore gain more market share and resulting in making more money, THEN THEY WILL. It's just that simple. It doesn't matter whether it will cripple your pc or making your pc unable to do some taks freely.

I've worked for some major companies and when we sit down to make major decisions, we calculate the risks and the rewards. If the rewards are more than the risks, then the decision will be made. My point is if MS makes a decision based on what's best for the consumers then the debate is over. It's what is best for the their company. It's nowaday what we called 'business'. If you're talking about business ethics, there's none.

PastcoFebruary 20, 2007 1:06 AM

The stupidity of this article is mind numbing. As other posters have mentioned, this has more to do with HD content in general than Vista. It is absurd to simply say that they could have refused to do it and that the industry would have released the content anyway. Where is the precedent for that?

Do you really think that Apple, which sits on the Blu-Ray board isn't going to incorporate DHCP into Leopard? How does this hand control of the industry to MS?

Most amazingly you don't even mention Intel which developed HDCP! Pitching this as a MS only problem obfuscates the real problem. What a simpleton.

PastcoFebruary 20, 2007 1:18 AM

>Mac/OS-X, here I come!!

Yeah because Apple, which sits on the Blu Ray board, isn't going to implement the necessary DRM the industry requires to play Blu Ray movies. I feel sorry for people who read this column and think they have been informed.

This is an industry issue - not just a MS one.

IgorFebruary 20, 2007 5:57 AM

So quincunx you suggest a society with decentralized power and I see that as a good model. But what is to stop groups of people to centralize the power again by creating cartels?

Ed EvansFebruary 21, 2007 3:06 PM

The important issue with all of this control is that the average user is too ignorant to understand or to care. Those of you who can intelligently write on this topic (or any other, for that matter) are in the tiniest of minorities, a percentage so small as to be negligible to the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Sony, etc. ad nauseum. You don't matter in all this: The tiniest thorn in their sides. What matters is that the poor bastard mass audience member will just be led like sheep to the slaughter, oblivious of the "big picture". We are too little, too late. The die is cast. Am I a harbinger of doom? No, just a realist. But at least we can bask in the light of knowing what is happening, however helpless we are to do do anything about it.

weebitFebruary 24, 2007 12:46 AM

I believe time has come for the public to sue the whole software industry and demand a consumer bill of rights for software. Today vendors like Microsoft can do pretty much what they want too, and get away with it. There are no consumer protections when it comes to software.

EitheFebruary 25, 2007 3:28 PM

Just struck me that there is an energy overhead to Vista DRM, which could be pretty substantial when totalled across all machines running the OS. Every machine cycle used by the DRM burns energy. It may also be the case that users need faster, less energy-efficient machines to compensate for the performance overhead imposed by the DRM. Sooner or later, someone will make a stab at estimating the greenhouse gas implications. It is possible that these implications are significant enough to give the DRM a very bad press.

Christopher HawkinsFebruary 27, 2007 5:32 AM

Wow.

Generally I find most of the information on this website useful and agreeable. That, however, was possible the biggest lot of bullshit I've ever read.

I'd contradict it point for point but enough people have already done this for me.

Please check your facts before you post.

Christopher HawkinsFebruary 27, 2007 5:35 AM

@weebit

"I believe time has come for the public to sue the whole software industry and demand a consumer bill of rights for software. Today vendors like Microsoft can do pretty much what they want too, and get away with it. There are no consumer protections when it comes to software."

We should also sue the white-goods industry for being able to do whatever they want. If you don't like what Microsoft does, don't buy their software. It's amazingly simple.

And if you don't like Fisher and Paykel dishwashers, buy something else...

AlexFebruary 27, 2007 9:01 AM

This is becoming that same old same old discussion: Microsoft against the rest.. Funny enough, somewhere I read that the technician Mr Schneier cites, didn't even touch Vista when he wrote his piece.. so much for research then, aye mate.. That would mean that it's just an opinion based on experiences in the past and heresay.. and a healthy dose of MS-fobia.

So, why does Microsoft have such an evil monopoly position? Maybe because there isn't a proper alternative? Oh dear, I need to duck for the Mac-users and *Nix-users now..

No really.. if you are a'company and you have to provide 2000 employees with some form of desktop automation, will you buy an Apple for $1500 or a Dell for $500? I'd say the choice isn't that difficult.

It isn't because Bill is evil Darth Vader(c) and wants world domination. It's because MS does something right where others go wrong. Take a look at Linux. Have you ever tried to get a wireless networkcard working on a laptop? Just a simple Intel 2200BG which is in (I guess) 70% of all business laptops. I'm not unexperienced with Linux and it still took me 45 minutes to get it working and another hour to get it working properly. Using Windows, I'd be ready in a jiffy (less than 10 minutes).

Yes, I know they are working on it. Yes I know that it's the vendor's fault because they don't bother to support Linux as they support Microsoft.. Why is that? Maybe because MS already thought about it and took action. Linux is just behind and getting started. Not that I agree on everything the boys in Redmond think up, on the contrairy.

About this piece; If you publish anything about a certain technique, make sure you have your facts straight and your story based on real experiences, not on fairytales and a bad night's sleep.

I for one will value the next statements of Mr Schneier and Mr Gutmann alot less after this little piece of work. It's just another opinion just as mine or anyone elses on this page.

I'd say to all desktop-OS-producing companies, get your act together, close the gap with Redmond and maybe, just maybe, you're in time to compete before they release their next OS.. in about 3 years.. where, undoubtly, we will have these same old same old discussions again..

stevenFebruary 27, 2007 2:28 PM

I've been useing windows vista since Beta 2 as my standard OS on a dual screen system... one screen which run's media player 24/7 with video and music files that do not contain any DRM strings and i have not had any problems that you have stated. So why don't you actaully get the latest codec's for you audio/video files which will change the quility of the image and sound, and actually test the system before speading such non-truths about something you don't know anything about....

quincunxFebruary 28, 2007 4:59 AM

@ Igor

"But what is to stop groups of people to centralize the power again by creating cartels?"

Voluntary cartels break down very quickly because the incentive to profit, will override each member's ability to keep the compact.

The purpose of the compact is to have each producer cut production and raise prices, in order to be effective. However, for each producer it is personally beneficial to cheat on the compact, and instead raise production to attract consumers from the other firms.

The history of voluntary cartels in practically every industry reveals their incompetence at achieving an anti-consumer oligarchy.

I have tried very hard to find a bad "cartel" that did not form as a direct result of gov intervention, and I have found none that managed to inflict any harm on the consumer or even last for any amount of time, profitably.

What eventually allowed them to remain in tact is that they lobbied the government to oversee their operations, usually with rhetoric like "open book pricing", "business cooperation", "taming the dog-eat-dog market", "reducing destructive cut-throat competition", "eliminating the price breakers'. All regulation ends up being a revolving door for cartelizers, and a cost to real competitors (present and future) and a pilfering of the consumer, and designedly so.

Professor Gabriel Kolko, a socialist himself, brilliantly argued that most of the regulations was brought about by an equally motivated co-partnership between the government and the crony capitalists and disguised as 'progressivism', so at to be acceptable to the duped public. Big business has its origins in specific state intervention, rather than an outgrowth of the free market.

Also, in a rational society, there would be no central banks issuing fraudulent money that allows first recipients to gain at the expense of later recipients and then to buy out sound firms.

Most people think that capitalism leads to concentration of wealth, but the truth is that it is a specific institution (a central bank - created by gov intervention, rather than market necessity) that effectively socializes investments, and enables those with top financial and government connections to rob the rest of the population by devaluing their money and buying up their resources, and creating indebtedness among the population through this process.

This is why I have a problem with people comparing socialism and capitalism in the real world - the truth is that capitalism does NOT exist anywhere on the globe, because every nation has socialized investment. The only difference between nations is what kind of mercantalist policies they have.

Concentration of capital is a result of organized legal plunder, not anything inherent in markets.

It is hard to imagine leveraged buyouts and concentration of wealth with a sound monetary system. In a sound monetary regime, the best providers of security (by subjective valuations of property owners) will be making the profits, the worst will be bankrupt.

AKMMarch 1, 2007 2:52 AM

Hmm, well...

My big problem with Vista is not really the media content. I mean, for watching HD-DVD/Blue-ray I use my standalone player hooked to my TV screen. I have no intention to use my PC for that, the TV screens is bigger and more suitable for that.

Besides, the HD-DVD/Blue-ray battle reminds me of the VHS/Video 2000/Beta fight from VCRs back in the days. Who knows, HD and Blue might both fail on the long run because someone comes up with a third, easier to to use system (as it happened with Beta and 2000 when VHS popped up, Beta had reversibel cassettes with two sides, like audio tapes, 2000 a far better quality than VHS, but VHS was easier and cheaper to produce).

The problem I have with Vista is that I get a shitload of crap with it. It's certainly NOT a great improvement to XP when I get an friggin' OS that has nearly the same hardware requirements as Doom 3 (exaggeration, I know), and that it gives me an alt+tab replacement that eats up more system ressources than my video encoder when running on full speed and which is also far inferior to the good old alt+tab.

Sure, Vista LOOKS nice. It's shiney and sparkly and new. But how practical is it? Is it practical at all? Well, for John Doe, who buys a machine for 700 Euro, all set up and ready to run, who uses it to play "Moorhuhn" and watch porn, it surely is. For anyone who knows his crap about computers? Hardly.

Vista is an OS and eats up... 15 GB (!!!) HD space... 15 GB for something that is supposed to be a platform to run other programs on? You gotta be kidding... 15 GB, the MMORPG Vanguard eats up 17 GB, and that is purely game relevant data... You can't tell me that all those 15 GB of data are absolutely necessary to for an OS. And on a day, when an OS eats up more HD space than WoW, Guild Wars and my C&C folder counted together... well... you gotta start wondering...

Here I am, waiting for the first dedicated Vista worms and viruses to pop up soon. That'll be very painful.

And frankly, I'm not going to upgrade past XP.

diseño webMarch 1, 2007 8:15 AM

La verdad prefiero linux, tiene un gestor de ventanas mas impresionante que el vista, echale un vistazo al compiz.

un saludo Juan

JoeMarch 2, 2007 5:42 PM

You're missing the point. This system checks to make sure that your monitor is HD. If it is not, it plays in a version you monitor can render. This means you can watch HD movies on non-HD monitors. That’s a good thing. The fact that they are also limiting piracy (somewhat) is just a side note. As for requiring software developers to seek certification, this is also a good thing. Ever seen those fake anti-spyware programs you get by visiting cheesy malicious websites? "YOU'RE INFECTED, CLICK HERE!" Next thing you know your computer is running extremely slow and you have popups, and all kinds of little annoying programs running all over the place? All the annoying security features in Vista that we advanced users turn off, and requiring software developers to be certified are the first steps in preventing this. Frankly, if you’re not smart enough to turn them off then you need them. Because you’re the kind of idiot who get’s infecting with this crap and has no idea how to remove it. You’re the reason Windows gets a bad rap as “un-secure��? and “virus-prone��? and why Mac users make fun of us. This guy is just another reactionary ranting and raving just to be heard. Every time a new OS comes out, they rant and rave. Why? Because they love the attention. So take your Ritalin slick, calm down, and let the rest of us enjoy Vista! Thus far it’s been a joy to use, and much more powerful. As a freelance Web Developer (meaning database driven applications and not just pretty websites) I make a living off my computer. Vista made my job a lot easier, and more enjoyable. It connects to multiple networks (home, work, other offices) easily, and all the coding and design software runs much better in Vista than it ever did in XP or OSX. I couldn’t be happier!

BobJMarch 2, 2007 7:29 PM

With Windows having a 90% market share, where else can the user go?

Not Mac .. Its genuinely kick ass but expensive
as well .. Not an easy flip at all (steep learning curve) ..

There is life after Windows .. It is called Linux .. You can learn to love it in 20 minutes tops
And .. You can run most of your Windows
software under Linux easily ..

Bingo .. no viruses for Linux

Try Novell Suse 10.1 GM .. It is an absolute pleasure to work with .. I promise that you'll
find it more fun to use than Vista .. and more versatile than XP

When asked for which desktop to use choose .. Gnome. It will make your migration to Linux a virtual dream

It has the grace and elegance of Mac OS X ..
But with alot of horsepower under the hood

Make your machine sing and soar ..

Have fun .. Go Novell Suse 10.1

JustinMarch 4, 2007 9:10 PM

I can see what will happen already , masses of people moving over to a LINUX OS.

I am already looking into it for myself.

Apple is no good , I'm a gamer.

Bill Gates , Steve Ballmer & Steve Jobs...

These three have something in common , can you tell me what that is ?

Heh heh yeah , theyr'e greedy control freaks...

Lets teach them a lesson...

kyzipsterMarch 7, 2007 8:53 AM

I do not spend a lot of time thinking or worrying about this subject but I recently bought a new computer with Vista and I had problems playing mp3s I bought at Napster so I came across this article in an attempt to educate myself and it's very interesting.

I don't believe we are completely powerless, it seems to be part of a larger picture, corporate ownership of our government. These efforts to control our computers are Constitutional or they are not, hopefully it will eventually play out in court and the Constitution will win.

I am not in the computer field but I know enough to have the opinion that Windows is a piss poor operating system and I've probably purchased 6 or 7 licenses in the last 10 years, it's absurd. I love Apple computers but until I can purchase an entire state of the art Apple package at $550 dollars at Circuit City, like the HP I purchased recently, I will not make the switch.

I don't think I have said anything positive about a Microsoft product since Windows 3.11 but I have to give a compliment. I set up my last computer with DVR capabilities with a Hauppage TV card, I used the software packaged with Hauppage even though I had Windows XP Media Center, I didn't want to give into Microsoft. I decided to try it out on my new Vista system. It's fantastic, everything about it works extremely well, it has changed my home entertainment system and I have to think it will catch on, shocking considering it's Microsoft.

I've also been reading about the future of DVD rentals. It looks like we will be able to download rentals in the near future, with a 3 to 4 day turn around with Netflix, I see this as a good thing. It's possible now but I understand the quality is very poor.

I'm curious how the DRM issue plays into the future of video rentals. I don't have a problem with some control over my computer if I choose to rent video over the internet but I believe it should be a choice, not something hidden away in the operating system.

Any opinions on this? Is DRM a necessary evil in our future?

Patrick BatemanMarch 7, 2007 11:42 AM

Anne O'Neimaus

great post (on markets/government.)

:)

Gates' donations of *licensed* drugs to developing nations was all part of this scheme: Gates' donations were the carrot to get developing poor nations to sign-up for global intellectual property rights - which they had until then been robustly refusing because they wanted to *make their own cheap life-saving drugs* instead of having to buy more expensive *licenced* ones from western drug companies.

To *save lives* african countries were making their own cheap AIDS drugs, for instance.

But obviously, this was out of step with present western efforts at extension of intellectual property rights, which is the wider issue underlying this VISTA fiasco.

Gates' *charity* played it's part in getting the developing nations signed up to global intellectual property rights - that's what it was about - and it garnered a lot of positive publicity at home too, of course.

Pardon my cynicism but the connection is hardly obscure between Gates' charity to supply drugs for africans and the institution of DRM in Vista being a massive grab for electronic distribution rights by Microsoft?

So, just to be clear - Gates' charity work helped persuade the world's poorer nations to signup for agreements which were patently NOT in the interests of their own people. It helped MAINTAIN the higher prices of life-saving drugs, AND helped to impose a new global regime of authority over intellectual property rights. Monsanto have similar interests over agriculture and their appropriation of 'intellectual property rights' over seeds. If people are upset about their DVD becoming neutered by Vista, how do they feel about *terminator seeds* which are *non-reproductive* and must be bought *licenced*?

So it is perhaps no surprise Vista now seeks to obtain a stranglehold on the distribution of ALL electronic media, backed up with the force of those same intellectual property rights Gates (and others like monsanto) were so instrumental in pushing upon a largely resistant WORLD?

patrick millerMarch 7, 2007 9:50 PM

Well, well, this conversation is quite hilarious.
WELCOME NERDS TO THE NEW WORLD OF FREEDOM -
NOT FREEDOM TO, BUT FREEDOM FROM.

As for all this discussion of governmental blatherdy-blap, just remember that the US atty general recently declared that the US Constitution does not guarantee habeus corpus, so take your vista and shut up or be dragged to the camp. You will install vista, you will be quiet and you will worship the new corporate state. This is what all the little IT power tripping dorks wanted wasnt it?

Kim MasonMarch 10, 2007 6:23 AM

It strikes me that if Microsoft's trusted path works (and that's a big if, in my opinion), then it will make PCs somewhat pointless for playing protected media.

The reason people use PCs for media playing now is that you get features that you just can't get from a closed component (e.g. CD player, DVD player). You can rip, burn, mix, make playlists, stream to other devices, and such.

If the trusted path works, then you won't (if I understand correctly) be able to do most of these things with protected media. In that case, why would you use a PC for protected media, if it does no more than a component player does, but is more flakey and harder to use?

An example is CDs. If all my computer could do with a CD is play it in the CD drive, I'd rarely use it to play CDs. I'd use a CD player instead. I think that the same thing will apply for HD-DVD and BluRay.

GregMarch 11, 2007 6:33 PM

Please split the ideological discussion of government away from the conversation.

It is easy to switch your operating system when all of the components work with the drivers on the new system, but what will happen when the hardware itself is DRM protected? Are we going to manufacture new computers without it or use outdated parts? No, that'll probably be game over for us.

repressorMarch 12, 2007 9:33 PM

Reasons not to upgrade to Vista are:

high system requirements(my laptop runs better on Ubuntu than XP)

Windows Media player is bundled with commercial ads.

The toolbar in Ubuntu default setting is at eye level vs the bottom of the screen with Windows.

World is changing and leaving Windows behind the. So there is really no need to use windows media files anymore. Use universal formats like mp3 and adobe flash video. Adobe looks and buffer better than windows media video.

meMarch 22, 2007 3:15 PM

HAHA.. you Linux people are funny.. Let's all migrate to an OS that is 98% hack, non professionally developed, sort of tested, and changes every month.

OS's run faster when there is nothing to install on them, End of Story.

Also, stop crying about DRM, if everybody would pay for their stuff, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place, you know it and I know it.

Peter da SilvaMarch 28, 2007 9:11 AM

"XP took a while to pick up steam and Vista will too."

XP's market share this soon after release was several times higher than Vista's market share, because XP was a genuine improvement over Windows 9x/Me and people upgraded to get that improvement.

Vista has no "steam" to get up to. Virtually all its sales are cannibalized from XP sales... its installed base willl only grow as people upgrade their computers.

Peter da SilvaMarch 28, 2007 11:45 AM

[posted here per bruce's request]


You write: "To be fair, just last week Steve Jobs publicly came out against DRM for music. It's a reasonable business position, now that Apple controls the online music distribution market. But Jobs never mentioned movies, and he is the largest single shareholder in Disney. Talk is cheap. The real question is would he actually allow iTunes Music Store purchases to play on Microsoft or Sony players, or is this just a clever way of deflecting blame to the -- already hated -- music labels."

This isn't new, Jobs has been saying that DRM is a waste of time as long as the iTunes Music Store has been around. The DRM in iTunes is no better than the honor system, and it hasn't prevented me from... using no software but iTunes itself... playing iTMS purchases in ordinary MP3 players. The "DRM barrier" that's supposedly keeping the iPod popular and keeping the iTunes stores in the catbird seat is mostly illusory.

It's not DRM that lets Apple dictate terms to the music industry, it's their dominant position. If the iTunes store was dominant without DRM, he'd be in just as strong a position.

And it's certainly not DRM that's made the iTunes store so popular that Jobs can dictate terms to the music industry, it's the terms he dictated in the first place that make the iTunes store more desirable than the alternatives.

I don't know if this confusion about the value of DRM to Apple was something Apple had any hand in creating, and I don't know if Microsoft thinks that DRM will let them wrest any of that control from Apple, but I honestly think that Microsoft wants control for its own sake. They're great at converting it into profit, and don't care too much WHO they use it against.

TheBestestTroll (:))March 29, 2007 4:51 PM

Who cares about HD-DVD and Blueray anyway? I'm running Vista x64 and am perfectly happy with DVD movies on my projector (50" screen) and 22" monitor (1680x1050). The solutions will start to rain once the format war is over.
FFS, it's only a couple of damn media formats - you still have your harddrive and will probably be able to transfer movies via bittorrent and hacked players when the internal drives get as cheap as DVD-burners are now (thank you oh former Soviet Union for good programmers and not some whiney american "coders" :))

RafaelApril 2, 2007 1:20 PM

There is an alternative to microsoft; its called linux. Ive been using linux for a number of years and refuse to be "bullied" by microsoft. I do not support DRM. I believe that open source source software should be embraced by more home users. As it stands now only a few home end users make use of linux ; in fact i was flabbergasted when i ran a search for linux via google. The first hit was sponsored by microsoft. I dont view that as fair nor acceptable results.

RonApril 7, 2007 1:16 PM

My latest computer purchase was an "bare" system onto which I installed Linux. I have no intention of ever purchasing Vista. I will avoid it if at all possible. I no longer wish to contribute to the problem.

I am willing to spend the extra effort to learn how to use a new OS and to "potentially" sacrifice some initial functionality for the sake of maintaining freedom in my use of computers. I refuse to contribute to the further entrenchment of the MS monopoly when there is an alternative. Linux is that alternative for me.

And whether you wish to believe it or not, it was the easiest graphical OS installation I have ever done, resulting in a fully operational computer system including an extensive set of installed applications, fully upgraded to the latest versions, all in less than one hour of total time.

And if I can do it, I truly believe there is a large percentage of people out there who can do it as well.

Dark PhoenixApril 15, 2007 8:25 PM

> Good alternative to WMV is
mpeg1 - Patented.
mpeg2 - Patented.
mpeg4 (aka DivX, Xvid) - Patented.
h.264 - Not legally available.
mp3 - Patented, and the patent holder's been on a rampage lately.
ac3 - Why whore yourself out to Dolby? Might as well use wmv.
flac - Not compressed, so the files tend to look like wav files.
monkey's audio - Patented.

There IS a reason why Ogg Vorbis/Theora are being pushed as new solutions, you know. And if you're basing what format to use on what your digital player supports, you might as well get an Ipod and whore yourself out to Apple, considering there are NO truly open players on the market at all.

AnonymousApril 24, 2007 6:39 AM

"flac - Not compressed, so the files tend to look like wav files."

Amusing in its wrongness. flac is not *lossy*, but it is is compressed, around 1/2 the size of wav.

AnonymousApril 24, 2007 6:42 AM

"And if you're basing what format to use on what your digital player supports, you might as well get an Ipod and whore yourself out to Apple, considering there are NO truly open players on the market at all."

I run open source Rockbox on my Cowon Audio X5. It can also be run it on iPod, Archos, and iRiver.

BrightStarrMay 11, 2007 3:12 AM

Since M$ can "update" their software to adapt to provide "better" service , by plugging the holes ,

A similar technique is needed for a software which can replace /remove /bypass /modify DRM / TC spyware/restriction stuff and can update itself when it's user wants it to .

Anyone knows of any such tool ? that takes out the DRM / TC restrictions components/files out of Vista, 2k3, etc OS and installs some type of free, alternative software for those removed components ? ?

I wouldn't mind to remove the "bad" things and keep "good" things , the choice is mine , isn't it ? in my own home , in my own PC ?

What if i install a different primary OS (Operating System) FIRST, for my computer and then install Vista as one of other secondary OSes on my own home machine ? not as virtual OS, but as "secondary" OS ? ?

putzyMay 14, 2007 12:28 PM

PCs and ALL their associated OSs are just TOYS. You folks who use PCs are just a bunch of kids with not much else of merit to contribute. No, a .doc, a .ppt, or any of a number of other presentation media are NOT "high tech." e-mail (what a farce). Not too many folks out there now-a-days use computers as actual workstations to say, crunch numbers, analyze data, engineering and/or scientific development, etc. The medical profession does a pretty good job of putting PCs to use but I repeat MOST all of you bloggers are just playing with a toys. So why (as I am now!) waste your time fussing about how your toys work? (!!!)

Jerr E.May 31, 2007 8:12 AM

"Steve Jobs did not publicly come out against DRM in music, not really. He proposed the abolishing of DRM (something he knows won't happen in the short term) as a preferable alternative to opening up iTunes (something European antitrust regulators are proposing to press on him), with the motivation of derailing the antitrust people"

Anyone hear an "oops"?

jebbaJune 15, 2007 10:39 AM

Guyz simply can you tell which one is better to use for people who wish to download movies and songs which doesnt have a copy right ? - a vista or a XP ?

MadScientistJune 22, 2007 8:46 PM

"We're stuck with Windows"

Yes, too true. Even if we don't use that malware we pay the WinDos tax each time we buy an x86 based PC. I am being robbed - I am paying for something which I neither need nor want. It is absolutely criminal and yet the law enforcement agencies of all countries allow this criminal activity. M$ users should pay the full cost of their malware and not rob people like me to subsidize them. This is unbelievably perverse - even if absolutely no one used M$ malware, they'd still be making a profit from us.

ParanoidJune 24, 2007 5:00 AM

Well this discussion boils down to a very fine point, which is not very obvious. But it can be seen. Somebody said earlier Microsoft has money they can wait it out. Well they can't, the stakes are much higher than that.

See whats happening is a conform or die evolution. The outcome is not certain yet but the overall trend has been that the corporative side is loosing. Their problem i that they woke up when more than half of their foundation was eroded.

So i claim what is happening is that the old very common up down, we know you don't know society is disappearing. This affects all levels of the world. At first it made possible for countries like India to make equal terms in competition for services. Then as a second stage it will start to slowly eat the biggest corporations. Darknets, in search for better world just the new adaptation early ideological, and newer militant and sometimes criminal profit wing of the same idea.

This has also implication to all of us, just because your in western world gives you no benefit in the future, so no safe ground.

Its the generation that was too lazy rebelling against their parents that to their horror did rebel, it just took parents 10-20 years to get how they rebelled.

So up down structures are dying here, and corporations are BIG up down systems.

As for DRM that does not uncrypt on way to the monitor. No biggie, lets steal it form the monitor instead. You just turned the electrical engineer the copy protection breaker of future. Which is even better then the previous state. Now that will guarantee the protection break is somehow universal. Thank gods for that.

DRM cant win, it has no way of doing so. Its fighting against evolution. Evolution don't need to be smart, it just needs to be with enough copies it will break it eventually and that sooner that you think.


Problem is that you already polluted one generation of intellectual workers, so the industry itself is working on the levelers side.

ParanoidJune 24, 2007 5:42 AM

> Not too many folks out there
> now-a-days use computers as actual
> workstations to say, crunch numbers,
> analyze data, engineering and/or
> scientific development, etc.


Well to be totally honest thats ALL i do. But my stakes are higher since turning that into media is a side issue so limiting stuff with drm is directly loss in my profit because i cant legally copy my own content anymore. And no this is no utopianism stuff i must actually pay the legal systems for it, money which i will get back as long as i get it up to 10,000 a year, even so i loose 10-20% of that

However you are right, but the biggest reason people don't use computers for automation they ware meant for is the topic here. The lack transparency makes it harder to learn.

AnonymousJuly 1, 2007 2:02 PM

hohoho vista rules!!, no virus, no blue screens, no slowdowns , faster than Xp, nicer than XP, easier than XP, more useful than XP,etc...the best operative system that I have used (and yes I tried ubuntu aswell), and about DRM ?? uh I don't care I don't use the pc for wathching movies anyway

Joe WhiteheadAugust 1, 2007 5:05 PM

"As for DRM that does not uncrypt on way to the monitor. No biggie, lets steal it form the monitor instead. You just turned the electrical engineer the copy protection breaker of future. Which is even better then the previous state. Now that will guarantee the protection break is somehow universal. Thank gods for that."
No one's wanting to record copies of the _decompressed_ video out of a HDCP stream. They're wanting to be able to play it in GPLed software without cracking specific implementations such as Blu-Ray and HDVD's AACS or DVD's CSS. It would be nice to able to legally distribute codecs for Linux. The decompressed stream would have to be either recorded entirely (can be >100 MB/second!) or reencoded into a lower quality format with recompression 'damage', but if we were gonna do that, it's easier to just write a decrypting transcoder for the HDVD!

slowphilAugust 4, 2007 11:18 PM

How nifty and far sighted some of us have become. DRM? Let me boil this down to bare knuckles where it should truly count. It's called, "Creative Talent!" Don't believe me? Get your old ukulele and cam corder and try singing "I love you!" Very creative! Esecially if the music is your own and not copy righted by any one. Just you! Guess what --- you'll get the video, but, you won't get your own singing --- singing your own creation that is not related in any way to any one's elses! You do not get your own composition of music to be played back! Why? Because Microsoft's Vista program sees you as 'stealing' some thing protected by DRM. Funny how singing and using that old ukulele have now become a prime target for MS Vista! Death to you whom are all creative. You will not be allowed to be creative! Don't believe me? Get the Uke!!

yeDAugust 13, 2007 8:11 AM

to gamers: Yep, don't play on Vista!
Play On X-Box! :-)

To the topic:
I suppose MS is just trying to convert a PC into very closed console type device. Where you can use only what is embedded.
Though it seems like controlling of people's freedom, in my opinion most casual users don't have an idea of how PC works and restricting them would be a great favor which MS can do to all admins and IT specs.

to freedom lovers:
So DRM? What a big deal? We get used to closed API, premade mmedia routines. Nobody except MS knows how they works, so what they are easy to use.
You don't need to invent your own bicycle, MS has done it for you.
If you want real freedom just use MS-DOS 7.10, a great system indeed. Write your own graphic OS in asm and be happy!

P.S.: OS's with graphic interface are evil and allowing peoples without technical univercity degree to touch a computer is a sin. What a devilish company MS is!

fnordAugust 30, 2007 5:13 AM

@yeD:
It seems the rider is unaware he/she is the ridden.

P.S. Just switched over to MS-DoS 7.10 from OpenBSD, this kicks ass! I don't even have to login anymore! I've installed the TCP/IP drivers, now I'm downloading MASM so I can get to work on a DirectX GUI.. shouldn't take long, I've just coded some helper .BAT files...

...fnord


Johan SterkOctober 2, 2007 1:47 PM

I have just bought a laptop and removed Vista for obvious reasons and installed XP along with Kubuntu in a dual boot fashion. I practically do everything on Linux because it's much faster and I'm paranoid. After installing EasyUbuntu I can view legally bought DVD's on Linux that I can't view on XP. In fact I only use XP if I can't do something in Linux, which is rarely the case. Who cares about Vista?

philamiNovember 9, 2007 9:16 AM

DRM is a total failule in one area: Creativity, Music Creativity!

You can not play your own music creations via Windows Vista. Funny part is the Music Industry, and such, have numerous Members that use their computer to dream up music scores, etc. Guess what? DRM gives them the finger just as it gives it to me!

Don't believe me? Test this you Creative Guys protected by Vista's DRM:

Get that old ukulele. Set up your video and microphone --- get that uke! Now sing and play the uke (it don't matter what song, even your own invention) and video your singing.

Yep! You'll get the video, but, not the song you just recorded! Why? Because you jackasses, or your illustrious Bosses, wanted that crappy DRM! That DRM is not about ready to reward your creation, because, as far as Windows Vista's DRM is concerned --- you are 'STEALING' music and such from the internet! Try it! You won't get past my 'Test' except if you use some cheap headphone/microphone crap!

As far as I'm concerned you, the Guys in the Entertainment Business that 'Create' --- well, you can just go to Hell just as this 'cheap shot' DRM has made me rush back to Windows XP. Oh, I see --- you have already done just that!

Thank you, Microsoft, for proving you are morons in more ways than your small minds can even remotely recognize!

StachuNovember 19, 2007 1:02 AM

HAHAHA...DVD Shrink 3.2 (free), and ANY DVD (21 day FREE Trial) ROCK!!!

I can copy any movie DVD or CD anytime I want...without the "Permission" of GATES-LORD/GOD, OR STEVIE BOY/KING!

Limewire is a GODSEND... Play, Live, Enjoy.

I have "copied" OVER 250 Copyright protected movies in the past 14 days, NO ONE can tell me NOT to...as I rented or purchased them... and in the sentiment of the Univ WI Madison Badgers...F*CK EM BUCKY!!!

JuanDecember 21, 2007 10:59 PM

I just bought a laptop that came with Vista, and beleive me when I say WTF is this DRM nonsense. First day I took it I tried to move a couple of Julia Ling photos and wallpaper (Julia Ling is the chinese chick that appears in chuck) b/c honestly I wanna her badly. First, I ran the "documents migration" thingie to move them along with my documents and other assorted crap off my old Win2k desktop PC, when it finished I saw that all my documents and other stuff were copied over, but not Julia's pics. Deleted everything off the new box and reran the migration thingie, the same result, Vista was cheerfully ignoring those pics and copying everything else. No problem I though, I'll just copy 'em by hand, It seemed to work, I decided to open them in the built-in image viewer app, but everytime I tried to open anyone of those pics it would close (not crash with the report error dialog, but the app just closed like when you close it, just that the pointer was way away from the window "close" button), opening any other image worked fine, trying to set Julia's wallpaper with the "customize" thingie was impossible, whenever I selected it the "apply" button grey'ed out itself. I though scrap that I'm gonna install picasa and webshots, no dice, Vista won't allow me to install anything but "MS approved" apps (which means apps that we're inspected by MS to ensure that they doesn't allow the user to bypass or override Vista's restrictions). I though, well maybe it's just a bad install, so I went and reinstalled Vista and retried the process, same results in everything. That was when I said, that's it, it's either Julia or Vista. And in the blink of an eye Vista was on it's way out of my PC, if it's so stubborn with a couple pics of a random actress I can't begin to imagine what crazy restrictions it's gonna put me trough when I really put the box on it's paces, so I went and installed Ubuntu, now I'm fully confident that the PC IS MY PC, not Billy's or Bushe's box.

usomeDecember 22, 2007 6:32 AM

Generally I find most of the information on this website useful and agreeable. That, however, was possible the biggest lot of bullshit I've ever read.

MaxJanuary 16, 2008 11:19 PM

Undoubtedly this drm is going to cause headaches for hardware vendors and user's alike, but ultimately what it will do is push customers into supporting non-drm products. For example, why buy a DRM protected 128Kbps WMA song from a MS-partner online music distributer, that will be blocked from playing on non-drm protected hardware or software, when the customer can instead buy the higher quality 256Kbps DRM-free song from itunes? Eventualy, the movie industry, like the music industry is already learning, will accept that DRM is a dead end path. If the entertainment industry drop DRM through consumer demand for non-DRM products then MS are left with a bloated useless technology that they will drop in the next iteration of Windows.

In the end it's up to us the end user.

ThatclassicsguyFebruary 12, 2008 9:59 PM

If Windows was free, then Microsoft wouldn't have to deal with all this DRM crap. Personally I'm running Ubuntu 6.10 on a Mac G4, and I'm quite fond of it after only using it for a month. Only problem is finding certain programs that work on a Linux/PPC platform. So why can't Microsoft just make that Windows Vista system like Linux, where it's free and you can customize it anyway you want without all this funny stuff about DRM and spyware and whatever else they got tucked in there that no one knows about.

Problem solved. Make all software and updates free, then no more "headaches about piracy."

ArtFebruary 27, 2008 1:56 PM

@ quincunx
WOW!!! Finally someone put up a sober post.

People, wake up!! If you dont like Vista - dont install it. Go with XP or an alternate OS. Reality is that any Windows product (including Vista) is the easiest to use for an average **user**. Average users, who make up the vast majority dont do their reaserch when it comes to purchasing software, dont read this kind of blogs and most definitely will not switch to Linux! Thats why no matter how much you bitch, MS will always stay the monopoly software developer intended for general public.

Even for professional software their solutions are much more cost effective then the competition. Most of you dont realize that even though Unix is free it will cost a company at least 20% more to hire Unix professionals than MS. I can easily hire 20 developers on MS platform who will cost me around $40-50K/year, when Unix developers will cost me at least $65K a piece. On average, just with 20 developers I'm down at least 300K per year in extra staffing costs. My total bill for all MS licences (including servers, dev tools, etc) will not even exceed $50K. So by going with MS platform I'm actually saving around quarter million per year! Unix doesnt really look free anymore, does it??

jyripMarch 20, 2008 4:06 AM

People -you do already trust your car to take over control when it thinks you are in "Threat". We will definetly be made "weaker" as machines get "stronger". Consider this to be part of normal evolution where humans as such are for long time not concidered the final topmost stage.

LETHLSSApril 18, 2008 4:03 AM

here's a REAL DRM headache for ya! i just installed a new 45nm CPU in a gaming rig i built summer 07. just when i thought everything was fine, after Vista installed the drivers for the new CPU, what error pops up?...

"Digital Cable device registration application stopped working and was closed.

A problem caused the application to stop working correctly. Windows will notify you if a solution is available"

After some googling, this error seems to be related to the DRM feature of the Vista OS. (and btw, the error is also in relation to my Aver NTSC TV Tuner).
Suggestion from other and the MS knowledge data base recommends renaming the DRM folder to DRMbackup, then rebooting... then going to a MS url, with a page title of: Security component upgrade.. you're supposed to click on "Upgrade" to upgrade or repair your security components, but this "upgrade" button is grayed out for me! so obviously this methos was a waste of time for me. i've emailed tech support at AverMedia in hopes someone there will have a solution :::fingers crossed::::

I'll update at another time...

K473April 18, 2008 9:03 AM

I currently use regular XP pro, and on my next system which I'm building, I'll be upgrading to XP pro x64. I find various XP incarnations to all be very good for pretty much every conceivable computer use, and XP is the best for gaming. XP x64 is the pinnacle of gaming OS currently, there's nothing faster or better. Unless you think DX10 actually 'does' something to offset using an unstable resource hog as an OS. Actually people have 'cracked' dx10, and gotten it to work on xp. It's not offered that way, deliberately, to get people to waste money on vista.

Vista is a mess, not only is it laden with DRM crap, and has severe compatibility issues, but it is also literally just a mess in terms of actually functioning & programing efficiency. Its not stable, its not secure, it doesn't offer you anything new of value. I have helped several computer users with brand new shiny mass market computers 'upgrade' to XP (erasing vista) so that they're computers would actually work, how they want, faster, and with more stability, privacy, security, using less electricity, and lower operating temps. One such person's computer came with Vista pre-installed, but on hardware which couldn't handle it, it would barely boot up. You know they're pushing an OS too hard when manufacturers are installing it in weaker systems which can barely function with Vista installed.

I don't expect M$ to wise up in their next OS incarnation either. They are making money. If anything they've shown their true colors so many times that it would be lunacy to expect anything less than a worsening of their infringements into fair markets, consumer rights, and privacy rights. You know, I like that people make money, its the american ideal. But I rather dislike companies which do it like M$. Microsoft as a capitalist model makes Marx seem like a visionary. I see that as a bad thing.

Thank You to those who posted links to Linux software & information. I intend to check Linux out. I've been using MS OS's for a long time, and I still might end up using future versions of Winblows, like 'Vienna', on a gaming rig if it becomes necessary to run games (though certainly not if they're as poorly executed as vista), but I am seriously looking at having a separate 'non-gaming' computer, for internet, online finances, media use, etc. running Linux or another non-MS OS (actually, I think it would be ideal with no M$ software of any kind on it)

For now, I'm still happy with XP pro, and I'm really anxious to get my new system up & running with XP pro x64 (8 gigs of ram, full 64 bit instruction utilization).

Kate

TurtleApril 26, 2008 12:49 AM

DX10 does NOT work on XP. You can install pieces of the code but it is unusable. x64 XP has horrid support.

I dont get all the fuss. If you have a high end rig any game is playable, even at 1920x1200 with all the bells and whistles enabled, except for the pig-Crysis.

I've copied DVD's, played hi-def content, even pirated a few games and movies. Never had a single problem using Vista. And the honest truth is Vista x64 feels much faster to me than my XP Pro did. Startup times is without a doubt quicker, and programs are just as quick. If I lose 10fps in a game because I have DX10 making things look better so be it.

I honestly don't know why people jump on this Vista hate bandwagon. If you cant afford new hardware than stick with XP. If you have fairly recent hardware you would have 0 problems. Leave the artificial benchmarks alone that were written specifically for XPs code. Every program I've ran feels quicker on Vista in real time. Use Vista or may your first born have anal crabs! /rant

SomeoneWithARealJobMay 8, 2008 11:10 PM

Hmmm... in response to "Turtle":
Sounds like all you're doing is playing games. Do you know that some of us out in the REAL WORLD with REAL JOBS use computers too? Yup, and it appears that a great deal of the REAL software that we use in these REAL jobs... doesn't run on Vista. But - we're being forced into Vista. It's pretty ugly - and it's our livelihood they're messing with us here. It's ok with me if they tell all you "gamers" that you have to use the newest piece of crap they've put on the market. But when they tell me I can't buy a nice, new, up-to-date system with XP Pro on it (which I happen to KNOW runs all the software I need just fine)... and they tell me I'm stuck with the latest "Big Sister" of Windows ME... (which doesn't run half the software I need to make a living)... I just want to go looking for a Linux alternative. You'll understand someday - when you have something more in mind than video games.

CarlMay 15, 2008 7:35 AM

I have a dell 6400, I upgraded to a new kick ass hp dv9000. my dell runs xp, my vista runs Vista..which computer do you think I'm typing on..yup you guesed it. the dell. but more importantly, the xp machine.

I heard some bad stories about vista last year. didn't think about again until I purchased the upgrade to the new HP machine. hey, I have been giving it a red hot go.

so far..Vista has had a fatal error. I have had to reinstall from recovery disc. I have searched and tried to find all number of vista speed up tips, to no avail. I have argued with Hp to give me details where I can get Xp installed on this machine as I am not experienced to do it myself. I was thinking of running with it and hopefully things would improve> this artical has certainly sealed my discision to format Vista into the void of data hell. I will be changing to XP the moment I can afford too. I would be using my new computer. but alas the browers sits there with circle of death?? how dare Microsoft try to control my hardware.

AlexNovember 30, 2008 11:56 PM

I've copied DVD's, played hi-def content, even pirated a few games and movies. Never had a single problem using Vista. And the honest truth is Vista x64 feels much faster to me than my XP Pro did. Startup times is without a doubt quicker, and programs are just as quick. If I lose 10fps in a game because I have DX10 making things look better so be it.

GaroonDecember 3, 2008 5:44 PM

"Some researchers think that this is the final straw that will drive Windows to the competition"

Windows *users*, perhaps?

Richard CraniumMarch 16, 2013 4:13 AM

So, six years later...

Did Linux take over the world? No, it ended up with 1/20th of the market share of Vista.

Did Linux get any traction when manufacturers started to preinstall it? No, machines were returned en-masse, and the preinstallation market DIED INSTANTLY when MS extended XP support.

Did your made-up DRM complaints add up to a hill of beans?

No.

C'mon kids, repeat after me: NO.

JimSeptember 8, 2013 8:25 AM

Linux isn't a corporation, taking over was never part of its mind share.

Grow some balls, Linux still gets as you put it "traction". Android and Ubuntu phones for starters. Dell still sells laptops with Linux pre-install as options, bios, chip makers, kios machines, bank terminals as far as I remember still use Linux. The whole fucking web still runs on Linux.

They didn't have to add up to a laundry list of complaints, most gamers on Steam got fed up with M$ Nazi practices and moved over to Linux.

Who the eff are you?

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..