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"A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection"
December 23, 2006 10:03 PM   Subscribe

"[C]omputer design is being dictated not by electronic design rules, physical layout requirements, and thermal issues, but by the wishes of the content industry." By deliberately breaking audio and video functionality, opening up new avenues for debilitating malware, and reversing performance gains in desktop PCs and third-party components, Peter Gutmann argues "the Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history."
posted by Blazecock Pileon (132 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
``Overall, Vista's content-protection functionality seems like an astonishingly short-sighted piece of engineering, concentrating entirely on content protection with no consideration given to the enormous repercussions of the measures employed. It's something like the PC equivalent of the (hastily dropped) proposal mooted in Europe to put RFID tags into high-value banknotes as an anti-counterfeiting measure, completely ignoring the fact that the major users of this technology would end up being criminals who would use it to remotely identify the most lucrative robbery targets.

``The worst thing about all of this is that there's no escape. Hardware manufacturers will have to drink the kool-aid...in order to work with Vista: "There is no requirement to sign the [content-protection] license; but without a certificate, no premium content will be passed to the driver". Of course as a device manufacturer you can choose to opt out, if you don't mind your device only ever being able to display low-quality, fuzzy, blurry video and audio when premium content is present, while your competitors don't have this (artificially-created) problem.'

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 PM on December 23, 2006


I can't wait until I can spend even more money on higher resolution things to downsample!
posted by 31d1 at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2006


Buy a mac?
posted by muppetboy at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2006


muppetboy: "Buy a mac?"

And be victimized by their foreign policy??!??!
posted by 31d1 at 10:17 PM on December 23, 2006


What it's really about is that Microsoft wants to control the only 'legal' pipeline for broadcast content, in whatever form it ends up being. That way, everyone has to pay them, the content providers since if they don't license the DRM from Bill & Co., their content won't play on 90% of the PC's, except in degraded mode. The consumers pay extra, since the Vista basic, as I understand it, won't play DRM content in anything other that degraded mode.

The secondary effect is that open source software, like Linux, and any other software Microsoft decides they don't like/ can't control will suffer, since there will be little point in writing drivers for operating systems that Microsoft won't license terms for, and if you don't think that they haven't put every legal barrier you can conceive, and some you can't, into the licensing agreements to use devices in unrestricted modes, you're about as big a naif as I used to be.

I urge everyone to put forth the effort to read, and truly understand what this subject article means. It's important.

Which is why I'll never use Vista, and never spend another dollar on Microsoft. They truly are gonna end up owning the world.
posted by pjern at 10:19 PM on December 23, 2006


People will bend over and take it like sheep. Mark my mixed metaphor.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on December 23, 2006


They truly are gonna end up owning the world.

only as long as the world is populated by worshipers at the altar of mass-produced packaged prefab corportainment. shut off your damn television. visit the library instead of the fucking cinema. stomp that iPod and learn to play an instrument. have a conversation. play a board game. this shit is your fault.
posted by quonsar at 10:32 PM on December 23, 2006 [12 favorites]


What it's really about is that Microsoft wants to control the only 'legal' pipeline for broadcast content, in whatever form it ends up being. That way, everyone has to pay them, the content providers since if they don't license the DRM from Bill & Co.

Wether it was intentional or not, that's exactly why Apple has such a lock on the online music market. If someone wants to sell DRM'd music somewhere other then itunes, it won't play on an iPod, and the seller would be giving up a majority of the market. The only alternative is to sell unprotected MP3 files, which amazingly some of the big record companies are starting to do.

Anyway, does vista allow the instalation of uncertified drivers? If so, it's still 'optional'. People will be able to install hacked drivers, and so on. That could be considered a violation of the DMCA, though. Pretty fucked up if it becomes illegal to "mod" your own computer.
posted by delmoi at 10:32 PM on December 23, 2006


Buy a mac?

Uh, it's comming* to Macs too.

*search in page for "mac"
posted by delmoi at 10:39 PM on December 23, 2006


shut off your damn television. visit the library instead of the fucking cinema. stomp that iPod and learn to play an instrument. have a conversation. play a board game. this shit is your fault.

OK, i'll bite. You're better than this quasi-intellectual privileging of the past. Ah yes, board games; things were so much more civilized back then. Excuse me while I retire to the opium den while some indentured laborers tend to the cleaning.
posted by mek at 10:47 PM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


there's got to be some anti-trust law this is violating...
posted by trinarian at 10:48 PM on December 23, 2006


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 done through a "constrictor" that downgrades
the signal to a much lower-quality one, then up-scales it again back to the
original spec, but with a significant loss in quality. So if you're using an
expensive new LCD display fed from a high-quality DVI signal on your video
card and there's protected content present, the picture you're going to see
will be, as the spec puts it, "slightly fuzzy", a bit like a 10-year-old CRT
monitor that you picked up for $2 at a yard sale. In fact the spec
specifically still allows for old VGA analog outputs, but even that's only
because disallowing them would upset too many existing owners of analog
monitors. In the future even analog VGA output will probably have to be
disabled. The only thing that seems to be explicitly allowed is the extremely
low-quality TV-out, provided that Macrovision is applied to it.
posted by orthogonality at 10:50 PM on December 23, 2006


Of course, we could all do something novel, like, band together and force the government to actually enforce antitrust laws or create new legilation to actually promote the interests of the people instead of business. Certain misguided individuals (and organizations) will scream 'liberal!' over that, but it's really just accepting the simple concept that the government is best when working for the benefit of the people, as a whole, rather than the interests of capitalism. Doing so might prove more valuable than the ludite suggestions from quonsar.
posted by Goofyy at 10:51 PM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, it's possible things might be diffrent under the democrats (they held firm for net neutrality, which was also backed by a lot of major corporations too) but most likely they won't do anything. Why not?

The fact is, most people just don't care. Look how popular the copyright-restricted iPod and iTunes store are. Not only that, but most people aren't even aware of the problem.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 PM on December 23, 2006


Can anyone please offer technical and subjective definitions of "high quality" (or premium) content as Microsoft is using the term here? Will this be higher or lower quality than is the current norm?
posted by zennie at 11:02 PM on December 23, 2006


luddite? your brains are steeped in trash. you don't need passive entertainment, you know. you don't need it at all.
posted by quonsar at 11:06 PM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Excuse me while I retire to the opium den while some indentured laborers tend to the cleaning.

Hey, that sounds pretty good. How do I get that going?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:17 PM on December 23, 2006


Not only that, but most people aren't even aware of the problem.

I suspect that is because most people who use the tracks legitimately so rarely run into the FairPlay restrictions that it never becomes an issue to be aware of. The minority of people who don't agree to the FairPlay restrictions will complain in any case.

DRM is now an issue for technophiles, but few others. With Vista, I suspect the issue will be different when enough people find their $2500 HDTV behaves no better than a regular $200 TV, their $200 graphics card operates no better than a $20 card, etc. At that point, DRM will be a problem.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:18 PM on December 23, 2006


My Christmas present from Metafilter is impotent intellectual snobbery over what is essentially marketing and corporate policy? Christ. This is really no different than what Wal-mart does to defeat competition. But, no, let's have yet another pissing contest about what's worthwhile and what isn't.

In the vernacular: Your favorite entertainment sucks.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 11:25 PM on December 23, 2006 [2 favorites]


The fact is, most people just don't care. Look how popular the copyright-restricted iPod and iTunes store are. Not only that, but most people aren't even aware of the problem.

But like Blazecock said, they're not restricted for most everyday purposes. I can't see this Vista nonsense getting any more play then any of the other bonkers Microsoft DRM schemes.

And if it does become popular, it'll be hacked. This kind of stuff is unenforceable.
posted by cillit bang at 11:28 PM on December 23, 2006


"it's probably a good thing that modern malware is created by programmers with the commercial interests of the phishing and spam industries in mind rather than just creating as much havoc as possible."

ohhhh, just you wait. al-quaeda's chief information officer is gonna read this paper, and he's gonna buzz osama and tell him "forget about the nukes, forget about the anthrax, i gotta much better, cheaper and easier idea. in the furtherance of their own hubristic greed, these yankee morons have just given us the rope we can use to hang them."
posted by bruce at 11:32 PM on December 23, 2006


great link, delmoi.
posted by phaedon at 11:41 PM on December 23, 2006


For what it's worth, quonsar, I'm with you.

Even if it was a slight derail.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:49 PM on December 23, 2006


I plan to pirate Vista Ultimate then install whatever scene/warez/hacker codecs necessary to disable whatever DRM there is.

Also to Bill G, stealing billions from the (relatively) rich then slowly giving less than half of what you've stolen to the poor doesn't make you a good person. Its makes you slightly less of an asshole.
posted by aerotive at 11:52 PM on December 23, 2006


I love that people want to turn to the government to help them out of this situation. The govt is the one that is paid to create laws like the DMCA that help this kind of insanity occur in the first place. There would be software and hardware workarounds to these things on the shelves if it wasn't for the govt interference.

As it is, I still have to download my dvd player software from freaking Finland if I want the ability to watch a movie I own in Linux.
posted by knave at 12:05 AM on December 24, 2006


It's my D(RM) in a box.
posted by VulcanMike at 12:07 AM on December 24, 2006



Can anyone please offer technical and subjective definitions of "high quality" (or premium) content as Microsoft is using the term here? Will this be higher or lower quality than is the current norm?

Generally what's being referred to here is HDCP compliant tech in Vista, and Secure Audio Path.

HDCP (part of blue-ray and HD-DVD, the new hi-res DVDs) allows for content creators to force video output of HD (High Definition) sources back down to 480p, otherwise known as progressive scan standard tv resolution if the encryption path from end-to-end isn't there. So spending large wodges of cash on a blue-ray player for your vista media PC, a decent HDCP-compliant video card for same, an HDMI lead, and a big HD TV is utterly worthless if any of the components fails to work together, as your output will be downsampled back to 480p. The whole point of this is to try and hamper piracy by stopping them getting access to the raw HD video stream for ripping. That HDCP was cracked before it was even released doesn't matter to the content companies, and now us customers are stuck with a convoluted and useless 'protection' scheme that will annoy and hobble us for years, joining the ranks of macrovision and DVD css as a complete waste of everyone's time. HDCP, or something like it, such as the broadcast flag, is pretty inevitable with HD TV too.

That said, none of the current releases of blue-ray or HD-DVD disks have the downsample flag (ICT) enabled, due to the large amounts of 'legacy' equipment still in use, but at some point, using component imputs in your HDTV, or using an ordinary computer monitor over DVI will silently degrade back to pre-HD quality when watching HD video or tv.

Secure audio path is the same principle, but means that your music downloaded (or copied off CD) in newer windows WMA formats will only play through a digital output (TOSlink or SP/DIF) if your speakers and soundcard also support secure audio path. Since none I'm aware of do, that means that digital output will be disabled for audio or video playback using those formats. Even the analog speaker output can be subtly distorted to try and annoy pirates, which is again why the bit-perfect digital output is disabled if its not encrypted end-to-end. (and is also useles against pirates, just annoying for normal users)

One of the casualties is PC gamers. Soundcards like the audigy or X-fi do all sorts of clever 3D sound effects in computer games, and virtually all of these are disabled in directsound in vista, as the old ability of altering the audio stream is disabled. So most older games (apart from the small handful using openAL) will have really crappy sound in vista. Even new games will have this problem, as EAX etc simply won't work in in directsound games any more.

Sorry for the length, but the nasty things vista will do to consumer computers at the behest of the content companies is a lengthy topic. Put it this way; as an IT professional, who works with Windows all day, I will be avoiding putting vista on any computer I support or own as long as possible. The artificial restrictions significantly outweigh the advantages.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:49 AM on December 24, 2006 [7 favorites]


That's not nearly the end of the nasty tricks, guys. If Microsoft learns of a hack that disables DRM for a particular video card, they can revoke retroactively the driver for that card, and cause all copies of Vista to disable it permanently. Just wait till that mechanism fails, and a couple million people find their computer is now permanently in safe mode at 640x480 because widows update happened overnight.
posted by pjern at 1:20 AM on December 24, 2006


er, make that *Windows Update*
posted by pjern at 1:21 AM on December 24, 2006


Ach, quonsar. A good movie can be every bit as participatory as a board game. I'll take Inland Empire over another round of Settlers of Catan any day.
posted by muckster at 1:42 AM on December 24, 2006


only as long as the world is populated by worshipers at the altar of mass-produced packaged prefab corportainment. shut off your damn television. visit the library instead of the fucking cinema. stomp that iPod and learn to play an instrument. have a conversation. play a board game. this shit is your fault.

Grandpa? Is that you? I thought you were dead.
posted by srboisvert at 2:28 AM on December 24, 2006 [2 favorites]


SinisterPurpose: "
In the vernacular: Your favorite entertainment sucks.
"

Anyone up for a Xmas game of nude Twister?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:48 AM on December 24, 2006


Just wait till that mechanism fails, and a couple million people find their computer is now permanently in safe mode at 640x480 because widows update happened overnight.

I would love for that to happen. But it won't. No one is that stupid.
posted by IronLizard at 2:51 AM on December 24, 2006


Thanks, ArkhanJG.
posted by zennie at 2:59 AM on December 24, 2006


I guess that means quonsar is back on the sauce. Welcome back, you rascal!
posted by The God Complex at 3:30 AM on December 24, 2006


No one is that stupid.
Hehheheheh
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:54 AM on December 24, 2006


But like Blazecock said, they're not restricted for most everyday purposes. I can't see this Vista nonsense getting any more play then any of the other bonkers Microsoft DRM schemes.

And if it does become popular, it'll be hacked. This kind of stuff is unenforceable.
The key point I got from the article isn't that the DRM will inconvenience users who can't hack it; it's that it will dramatically increase the price of developing (and hence buying) hardware, as hardware will have to be fundamentally redesigned to support content restriction. The scope of the changes that need to be made (adding on-board encryption, avoiding motherboard designs that allow different components to be soldered in to create different products) is pretty incredible.

Even worse, the only way the hardware can be secured is by enforcing closed-source drivers and deliberately hampering the development of open-source equivalents. This leaves Free operating systems like Linux in real trouble - as if the driver situation at the moment wasn't bad enough.

Being confident that the protection stuff will be crashed misses the point: hardware will be more expensive and less reliable, all in aid of an emporer (DRM) that really is stark bollock naked.
posted by simonw at 4:06 AM on December 24, 2006


So I can't trade in my buggy for an automobile, because if the automobile becomes popular the entire buggy industry is going away? What will we ever do? There clearly is no historical precedent we can review to see if the world kept turning or fell into ruins.
posted by maxwelton at 4:34 AM on December 24, 2006


The more I think about this, the more it seems to be about making file sharing a criminal offense, rather than actually making it physically impossible to do. As things stand, you can actually take possession of a DRM clean copy and do nothing against the DMCA, but if you're PC has these built in protections, there would be no way around violating certain key provisions of this law. Someone tell me if I'm wrong.
posted by IronLizard at 4:45 AM on December 24, 2006


you're your
posted by IronLizard at 4:45 AM on December 24, 2006


do nothing against the DMCA

Before someone goes pedant on my ass, I should say that I mean the portions that carry criminal penalties.
posted by IronLizard at 4:56 AM on December 24, 2006


Ho hum. What happened to the, uh, somewhat larger issues we normally rant about? Recall that civilization will have collapsed because of global warming and peak oil before all the non-DRM legacy equipment has been retired. All you Max Headroom types who can't conceive of life without media, your media experience is safe 'til the universal darkness falls. Fuller hitches armchair closer to fire, returns to reading Nennius by candlelight.
posted by jfuller at 5:03 AM on December 24, 2006


stomp that iPod and learn to play an instrument.

i've long been telling people that unless they play their computers as if they were musical instruments, this kind of shit will happen.

quonsar, you, your comments, and your website are a salve to my otherwise christmasy weekend.

see a great rant by david weinberger on drm (the rant begins sometime after minute 14)
posted by localhuman at 5:05 AM on December 24, 2006


My Christmas present from Metafilter is impotent intellectual snobbery over what is essentially marketing and corporate policy?

you've got that turned around ... we, being rare consumers of this sort of thing, have empowered ourselves to not be taken advantage of

you, who buy the equipment and consume the entertainment, are the impotent ones

i don't care if you do or you don't ... that's not my concern

however ...

One of the casualties is PC gamers. Soundcards like the audigy or X-fi do all sorts of clever 3D sound effects in computer games, and virtually all of these are disabled in directsound in vista, as the old ability of altering the audio stream is disabled.

how is that going to work for people who have home recording studios? ... how are these kind of restrictions going to work for people who want to produce high quality content THEY have the copyright to?

Sorry for the length, but the nasty things vista will do to consumer computers at the behest of the content companies is a lengthy topic.

at the end of the day, all they're going to do is hurt the hardware manufacturers and make entertainment hardware manufacturers like sony even more money ... when the computer industry realizes that microsoft is costing them sales, watch out

As things stand, you can actually take possession of a DRM clean copy and do nothing against the DMCA, but if you're PC has these built in protections, there would be no way around violating certain key provisions of this law. Someone tell me if I'm wrong.

there's nothing that prevents people from dual-booting xp and vista, is there? ... that would seem to be the best solution for some of the problems mentioned here
posted by pyramid termite at 5:15 AM on December 24, 2006


Yes. The hardware problem.
posted by IronLizard at 5:22 AM on December 24, 2006


No one is that stupid.
Hehheheheh
posted by Kirth Gerson


Seriously, they could have shut down every pirated copy of XP through windows update. Did they? Hmmmm, why do you think that is?
posted by IronLizard at 5:25 AM on December 24, 2006


Seriously, they could have shut down every pirated copy of XP through windows update. Did they? Hmmmm, why do you think that is?

because people would just reinstall and use something else like linux (or win98) when they wanted to connect to the internet

so far, with additional programs and some caution, xp's been secure enough to use on the internet ... the day it stops being so is the day i go back to dual booting
posted by pyramid termite at 5:38 AM on December 24, 2006


While i'm sure many here already dispise Microsoft and their media overlords over this joke that is Vista, please do keep in mind that this is only one of many ways in which Vista is dramatically lagging behind Free Software solutions. The deeper they dig the hole, the less we'll see of them.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:55 AM on December 24, 2006


from delmoi's links, it is scary that these restrictions will be built into the hardware.

i was always enthused that apple began using intel for cpus(despite my belief that intel's product isn't all that great) because it would enable things such as this (running os 10.4.6 or > on non-apple {and thus much cheaper} hardware).

unfortunately, this seems to be a step towards DRM and hardware restrictions rather than a step towards the something better i thought it might be.
posted by localhuman at 5:55 AM on December 24, 2006


Hackers, on your marks, get set . . . Vista!
posted by spitbull at 6:33 AM on December 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


> how is that going to work for people who have home recording studios? ... how are these kind of
> restrictions going to work for people who want to produce high quality content THEY have the copyright to?

I have a home recording studio and have considered the problem. The hardware market is a world market now. If DRMed hardware from Dell and HP becomes a problem, build your own with non-DRMed hardware from Cambodia. I assure you it will exist if there is a market for it. Bear in mind that good studio guys have always been able to run a soldering iron and not just twiddle the knobs.

Your home-studio controller doesn't need to run Windows. In fact, it doesn't even need to be on the Internet, and nobody's spy crawler or phone-home app can find you if it isn't. If you just have to upload your latest masterpiece to your MySpace page you can sneakernet it across the room to your internet PC and upload it there. If you insist on having your stuff playable on DRMed hardware, you'll have to go through whatever contortions are required to do that. If Sony can figure it out you can too. If you can't or won't you're still no worse off than when mass-market "product" was on CD but indy musicians had to pass their stuff around hand to sweaty hand on cassette because they couldn't burn CDs at home or pay for a professional pressing. Indy music survived that, it will survive Vista. PS did anybody read the fpp link? I've made a good living off an MCSE for quite some time but I'm guessing Vista is redmond's goodbye-cruel-world note. I won't miss 'em, I'll just learn whatever comes along next.
posted by jfuller at 6:48 AM on December 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


the way i look at it, jfuller, is that non-drm mp3s ought to be able to play on anything ... and if not, they really are abusing the term "high quality content"

also the way i look at it, it's their job to sell me their wonderful new innovative hardware and software because I'M happy with what i've got (except the shitty radio shack microphone) ... so are most of the business users ... so are most of the casual internet surfers ... so are most of the gamers, except for the bleeding edge ones ... so are most of the people who have home entertainment systems

they're the ones who are trying to convince us that we NEED or should WANT media center pcs

this is not the way to do it ... no sale ... the way this is going people are going to be mentioning the windows vista media pc and the ford edsel as equivalents ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2006


In order to prevent active attacks, device drivers are required to poll the underlying hardware every 30ms to ensure that everything appears kosher. This means that even with nothing else happening in the system, a mass of assorted drivers has to wake up thirty times a second just to ensure that... nothing continues to happen. In addition to this polling, further device-specific polling is also done, for example Vista polls video devices on each video frame displayed in order to check that all of the grenade pins (tilt bits) are still as they should be [Note C].

Fuck this shit, in the mouth, thirty times, hard. I use my computer to make music and this is going to fuck the fuck out of my nice low latency. For those of you who don't know what that means, imagine striking a note on a piano keyboard and hearing the note play a bit later. Not a nice way to make music. But I guess I won't even want to with Vista disabling my sound card drivers, degrading my audio quality and generally peeing my fuck.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:37 AM on December 24, 2006


Draconian
Measures
Criminalize
All
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:47 AM on December 24, 2006


> the way i look at it, jfuller, is that non-drm mp3s ought to be able to play on anything

Oh, I agree totally. But folks who insist on buying Best Buy/Circuit City/Walmart "pro-sumer" grade equipment (i.e. not real pro stuff, Redmond isn't going to inflict this shit on big studios, and not real homebuilt amateur equipment, where Redmond can't reach either) -- those folks are the ones who are going to have to take whatever the brand names want them to have, DRM shit and all. And so it has been since my great grandfather had a big console radio in his living room, to listen to the Dodgers, and a crystal set in the basement, to listen to everything else in the world that the networks didn't broadcast. ("Suppressed and censored," as we would put it around here.)
posted by jfuller at 8:03 AM on December 24, 2006


Folks, this really is a big deal. It means that your computer's basic functionality is being crippled because of Hollywood. Vista will be shinier and prettier than XP, but substantially less functional.

Worse, in their attempts to detect tampering, they've built a whole series of kill switches in... if your hardware acts funny in any way, Vista drivers are supposed to set a 'tamper bit', disabling (at the very least) playback functionality, and perhaps disabling the entire machine. Computers are supposed to be resilient, and instead they're being made deliberately fragile.

Vista is not for your benefit. Nothing in it, except the chrome, is to make your life easier. They are taking features away, not adding new ones... and they're charging you $350 to put chains on your wrists.

If you are running Vista, you no longer own the computer. Microsoft does, and you're only allowed to do certain things with it.

A Vista machine, in other words, is not a general-purpose computer. It is a "Mother May I" device.
posted by Malor at 8:36 AM on December 24, 2006 [3 favorites]


This is definately going to be fun.

We're also going to see capitalism at its best and worst.

I think what it's going to do to the hardware market is the most interesting. If consumers really start revolting against DRM, to the point that they'd consider migrating open source, the hardware market will be inclined to split their focus between high tech/spec DRM crippled stuff, and fast, cheap, and out of control stuff for open source crowd. It might be just be the break that open source is looking for. Direct hardware support.

The most interesting thing I think is that hardware, video games, movies, and all of that, have had their prices driven up high enough because of their in the first place highly conspicious production costs. The video game industry, for example, is really starting to collapse under its own weight as publishers are realizing that only a thin slice of the market is demanding these cinematic quality games, whereas Popcap seems to be making a small fortube. Hardware in general is so far in excess of people's needs, that if big media tries to drive up the prices any further, it quite likely will be the suicide being predicted.

When people are given the option between $1000 in basic hardware and another several hundred in software, versus $300 in hardware and $0 in software, where the only difference between the two is both relatively indulgant and controlled by a cartel anyway... well who knows, the market may choose wisely.

Of course, I'm getting a new laptop, and I get a free version of Vista, so there's no reason for me not to run it. But my home brew desktops may stop straddling the closed/open source divide very soon.
posted by Alex404 at 9:03 AM on December 24, 2006


Totally fascinating article, I've seen companies shoot themselves before, but never on such a grand scale as this. (Digital Computers comes close) Another classic example of design decisions made by non technical management who have lost sight of the overall picture. If I owned MS stock, I'd be looking to sell soon.
posted by BillsR100 at 9:10 AM on December 24, 2006


maxwelton and jfuller: Do you or do you not enjoy the benefits of the computer age?

The internet as we know it today came about because of a distinct lack of laws and industry cudgeling of the capabilities of technology like this.

The internet is a good thing. For Business. For Society. For Civilization.

Paramount studios should not have the right to hinder the next great advance in technology to save their bottom line.

Imagine if buggy manufacturers got together and made automobiles illegal in order to protect their business model. Wouldn't that have been grand?
posted by Freen at 9:11 AM on December 24, 2006


DRM is a hack to induce scarcity.

In truly free markets, industries die because of technological advances.

Me? I'm buying cambodian electronics.

The free market routes around artificial supply restrictions.
posted by Freen at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2006


I'm having a hard time estimating exactly when Vista would be an upgrade I'd be interested in. XP does everything I need a windows machine to do, and not a single 'feature' of Vista appeals to me, without even taking into account the DMCA cack that this thread addresses. Sharing music/pics with my Xbox 360 might be neat, sure (if I had one), but Windows has enough problems running the programs it's asked to run by the user/Admin.

I look at Vista as I did ME. Not for me, thank you.

But on the bright side of all this mangled media that will result from adopting the OS, the disruption it will cause amongst users will probably trump any entertainment people are pre-bitching about not being able to see.

The real world's plenty entertaining, people.
posted by Busithoth at 9:20 AM on December 24, 2006


Of course, I'm getting a new laptop, and I get a free version of Vista, so there's no reason for me not to run it.

Um, yes, there is. There absolutely is. ie., Everything in the FPP and this thread. People don't cut their bullshit because other people complain but then go along with it anyway. Everyone who uses Vista is encouraging this load of bollocks.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:21 AM on December 24, 2006


Also, On my servers, I will NOT allow some stupid drivers polling every 30ms, or multiple artificially induced points of failure.

Microsoft, I never ran your shit on my big iron, and I never ever will. Mark Shuttleworth, and Canonical are going to be getting my cash money.
posted by Freen at 9:23 AM on December 24, 2006


This article (and some of this thread) is the biggest piece of FUD I've ever seen in my life.

Amazing.
posted by Jairus at 9:59 AM on December 24, 2006


Jairus, what is your evidence that this isn't true? It fits very closely with other things I've read, and it's my understanding that this article was written by a crypto geek of some renown. From what I've been able to determine, he is not, in the least, talking out of his ass.

Do you have evidence to the contrary?
posted by Malor at 10:11 AM on December 24, 2006


Do you have evidence to the contrary?

i'd like to second that request ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 AM on December 24, 2006


I've been in the kitchen listening to Christmas carols all morning.

Not up to making this really scan, but as I read this thread,

Come, O come, Google OS 1,
And ransom hopeless Windows slaves,
That mourn in lonely exile here
Until Google OS 1 appear.

Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Google OS 1 shall come to thee, O Windows slaves.


has been running through my head.

It's so strange to watch an organization as packed with ability as Microsoft undoubtedly is make such an irremediable and irredeemable blunder. I think this is as bad as or worse than Detroit's decision to ignore fuel economy and as unaccountable.

People in Seattle talk about the Boeing collapse of the early '70s-- just wait til the fall of the Goliath of Redmond.

O come, O come, great Biotech.
posted by jamjam at 10:15 AM on December 24, 2006


> Also, On my servers, I will NOT allow some stupid drivers polling every 30ms, or multiple artificially
> induced points of failure.

This doesn't occur in Server 2003 and is not likely to appear on whatever the successor to Server 2003 is called. Not too many people use critical enterprise app or db servers as multimedia entertainment-center PCs, and I doubt MS is too worried about it.


> Jairus, what is your evidence that this isn't true?

I think the FUD comes in not where we predict that MS and the hardware vendors will attempt to do control-fr33k stuff but where folks hyperventilate OMG THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO. END OF NET PREDICTED! It's no different from OMG APPLE][ GAME FLOPPIES ARE COPY-PROTECTED. That passed (along with the App][), so will this.
posted by jfuller at 10:18 AM on December 24, 2006


Big Media has talked, for quite some time, about putting the DRM in the hardware. So, if you are running software on their hardware, it doesn't matter if you've got some open-source OS ... you still can't use the material, because part of the crypto is in the hardware. Open souce will not save you. And guess what? Linux already supports trusted computing. Macs? They're starting to come with TPMs, too.

Already the US Army requires that computers come with a Trusted Platform Module. Big Media pushed through the DMCA - all they need to do now is make sure that every computer has a TPM, to protect the children or something.

And, for one, I think the Xbox was just Microsoft's loss-leader experiment in "how will the hackers attack our hardware?" Once the hackers show them how they must fortify, after a few generations, you could get hardware that might require more resources to hack than you can get out of the open source crowd.

This is bigger than Microsoft. It's just that they're the leading edge, that's all.
posted by adipocere at 10:21 AM on December 24, 2006


I think the FUD comes in not where we predict that MS and the hardware vendors will attempt to do control-fr33k stuff but where folks hyperventilate OMG THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO. END OF NET PREDICTED!
Has anyone actually said anything like that, here or elsewhere? Of course there's stuff we can do; it starts with helping make people aware of the situation.
posted by simonw at 10:43 AM on December 24, 2006


vis·ta (vĭs'tə) pronunciation
n. 1. A distant view or prospect, especially one seen through an opening, as between rows of buildings or trees.
posted by srboisvert at 11:13 AM on December 24, 2006


jfuller: I plan on having real time streaming audio and video. You're telling me that with the server editions of windows, these content restrictions won't apply? Bullshit.

Moreover, that my clients are going to get lower quality audio and video because i haven't paid the microsoft tax? The tax being in terms of cash, support, uptime, and stability? Basically, I have to pay microsoft so that my competitors don't eat my lunch. (Nota Bene: microsoft/MSN etc may in fact be a competitor.....)

This is almost cartel like behavior. I really am surprised that you are in favor of such behaviors that inhibit a free market.
posted by Freen at 11:33 AM on December 24, 2006


I think the FUD comes in not where we predict that MS and the hardware vendors will attempt to do control-fr33k stuff but where folks hyperventilate OMG THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO. END OF NET PREDICTED! It's no different from OMG APPLE][ GAME FLOPPIES ARE COPY-PROTECTED. That passed (along with the App][), so will this.

In the years I've been on MeFi I've never once found jfuller to be a terribly interesting or even intelligent commenter, but I think he's really outdoing himself with this drooling nonsense.

Seriously, dude. The doc prescribed you those Haldols for a reason. I suggest you take them.
posted by clevershark at 12:07 PM on December 24, 2006


his shit is your fault.

Quonsar : usually I would get your post as yet another inflamatory remark, which I don't really mind when and if it helps people face uncomfortable pieces of truth.

But this time you simply don't understand, no sir. The gist of your remark is : stop buying mass produced entertainment and go produce your own entertainment, by socializing, by learning to play an instrument, by spending time with people and NOT in front of stupid machines.Clearly by doing that one would obtain great socialization benefits and simultaneously reduce actual demand, a slap that can surpass any kind of eloquent rethoric, any copyright DMCA throwing lawyer. Shit, I agree with you on that ! Completely.

What you are missing is that these industries aren't going after the CONTENT and the fact you will forerver be able to socialize yourself out of the tunnel of entertainment.

These industries are going after the INSTRUMENTS, protecting the poor content from the "evil pirates" being just an additional layer of exploitation and a very convenient excuse to distract attention. The content industry have problems with easily accessible WAYS AND MEANS of copying and distributing , which today means : a PC and a fast internet connection. That's hardly acceptable, as it gives little companies with little investments the possibility of accessing markets the size of Walmart, but on the internet. No need to bow to Mr.Fatass, the owners of portals to masses.

The little Joe user can socialize as much as he wants, but if he wants to send the pics to his new gf he is likely to use the convenient PC, or maybe use youtube to send her a video, or if he is half the hack I am he will encode his own holiday greetings and send attached to a mail.

But , lo and behold, the video you just sent is NOT DMBNNHGD code-protected as extablished by the RightLEft Wing Department of Privatized BushClinton Government ! Therefore it may be piratez content ! Oh noes, makes baby Jebus cry ! So it will now play at reduced 640x480 resolution. Wanna make sure it is delivered ok ? Get our PREMIUM channel, just 19.95 or $3 a pop, "enabling" hi-def. The keyword is ENABLING , making you pay for a function your hardware already have, for no other reason they can. YOur car can't hit 90 if you don't watch today advertisement , which happens to be a Sex Toy advertisement ! Soccer moms with a load of kids onboard gotta love that, or shove it. Well :)

More insideous examples : who cares about hi-def, when I got low-def and it is enough ? I don't need fancy stuff you young whippersnapper need today ! Yall need a spine and a bucket of balls ! Except that this heroic speaking is possible IF low-def is good enough , is accessible easily or doesn't crash your PC.

An even more lowest.commond.denominator example : MAIL, good ol mail. I love paper, I love pencil and mail. Recently my postal service (italy) told me I need faster mail, I want faster mail ! No, I don't, sod off. Grazie, prego. Fanculo.

YOU DO, elpa, you backwared inbred redneck gaylesbo luddite. Who doesn't ? Whatever..they abolished the normal low cost mail and uniformed all the ordinary mail to HIGHER prices, faster delivery ! FUckers ! It is clearly just an excuse to have me pay an higher absolute value of money, for a service I did NOT demand nor need ! But elpa must be a fucking luddite, for wanting ordinary snail mail.They could AS WELL have accepted my mail and deliver it in 7 days, it wouldn't have clogged their lines, it was take-it-easy money for a shipping company, but they preffered to charge me MORE.

They ENABLED fast mode on my mail by simply discontinuing old service.
posted by elpapacito at 12:10 PM on December 24, 2006


Freen: To be clear, which I wasn't, I consider the current media businesses the buggies and whatever exists in the future as the automobile, in my tortured analogy. This is the last desperate battle of the bigwigs to keep their cash cow. It might work short-term but it won't long-term.
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 PM on December 24, 2006


you don't need passive entertainment, you know. you don't need it at all.

Yeah fuck that Beethoven guy! Write your own symphony! I'm sure it'll be just as good! After all YOU are Time Magazine's person of the year! Shakespeare? Total passive douche! Your blog is so much more compelling!

Anyway, can anyone explain what this is actually about? If I am not silly enough to waste my money on DRM'ed content, does it have some effect on my mp3 and video files?
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:48 PM on December 24, 2006


the article, upon me actually looking at it, uses the term "protected content" five times without giving any clue what that means.

Do they mean copy-protected, as in commerical DVDs? So now I have to rip them and burn them back before they work right? Just like iTunes. meh.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:52 PM on December 24, 2006


Everyone makes purchasing decisions based on a (at least perceived) cost benefit analysis. DRM simply increases cost while offering (let's be generous) marginal benefits. The current content companies are deluded enough to think that we the average person actually desires their content, when in reality most people consume it because it's the lowest cost (in time and money) to consume. If they insist on raising the costs through DRM, then people will look other lower cost sources of entertainment, and just the fact that people will start looking for new sources will mean that new sources will come into existance.

High quality, low quality, people just want to be entertained. I would wager that YouTube et al. has more eyballs at any given moment than all of the HD television services combined. I think the traditional content providers are to hubristic to see that they are competing against these methods of content creation and distribution. Although, I can't even imagine how they could compete. The output of billions of people who have even just one story to tell or one idea they'd like to share certainly has much more potential than the rather small group of people motivated purely by profit.
posted by betaray at 12:53 PM on December 24, 2006


The output of billions of people who have even just one story to tell or one idea they'd like to share certainly has much more potential than the rather small group of people motivated purely by profit.

yeah except 99.99% of the stuff on youtube is copyrighted material made by professionals, "remixes" of content made by professionals, or people lip-syncing to songs by professionals. The rest is just amateurish crap.

Really, this "amateurs are better than professionals" idea is silly and needs to go away.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:59 PM on December 24, 2006


Although, I can't even imagine how they could compete.

Why compete, if you can control ?
posted by elpapacito at 12:59 PM on December 24, 2006


> In the years I've been on MeFi I've never once found jfuller to be a terribly interesting or even intelligent commenter,


Now there's a fact of no importance. But I am sanguine about hardware-based DRM and most of the other dreadful threats that the future may or may not bring, which puts me out of step with the metafilter's prevailing but inexpressibly silly EOTW!!! BIRD FLU!!! OR SOMETHING!!! EVERYBODY PANIC!!! ambience.


> It might work short-term but it won't long-term.

Agreed. In the short term there will be a great many hardware and software alternatives that aren't crippled, unless you're a you're-gett'n-uh-DELL-do0d! type who can barely find the On button. In the long term I expect the game to change pretty radically. No game goes on forever.


> If I am not silly enough to waste my money on DRM'ed content, does it have some effect
> on my mp3 and video files?

At some unspecified future time they may not play, if you're skillz-limited to buying a brand name PC from Walmart with Vista preloaded. From the sound of things, there are many such folks in this thread.

For the reading-impaired, I quote what I wrote up above: The hardware market is a world market now. If DRMed hardware from Dell and HP becomes a problem, build your own with non-DRMed hardware from Cambodia. I assure you it will exist if there is a market for it.
posted by jfuller at 1:01 PM on December 24, 2006


I assure you it will exist if there is a market for it.

Yes, assured. I feel safer already. You can't insure you will be alive tomorrow, let alone insure the rest of the world how the hardware market will be. Descend from your throne, will you ?

Yet I know what you think , that there always be some piece of good hardware or trick for the people who know their stuff well.To an extent, it is true. Eventually some will follow china's example and attempt of getting rid of DVD licensing schemes by implementing EVD or whatever the acronym was for their new standard ; yet with a little arm bending and money oiling they may revert in a snap, politicians are very very sensible to the right kind of persuasion.

Safe heavens for production of unrestricted goods may not exist forever, so one better anticipate and buildup resistance against a business model that shuts downs your engine if you don't use premium rosebud smelling unleaded, maintaining a demand for old hardware that worked.

For instance, my mechanics is a major engine geeks and he still bitches about the good ol diesel engines, he loves them as opposed to the new common rail injection , unarguably more powerful , but a bitch to maintain.
posted by elpapacito at 1:22 PM on December 24, 2006


But I am sanguine about hardware-based DRM

I am not sanguine, jfuller, and as a donating sponsor of the EFF consider legislation like the DMCA and technology like the Trusted Computing Initiative to be steps taken to outlaw any recording technology altogether.

While in the short term this makes it more difficult for MeFites to break copyright law and make copies of music and DVDs — admittedly trivial notions of people entertaining themselves with corporate-sponsored art — on an entirely larger scale this is very bad news for human beings in the long term.

The larger picture, in my opinion, is that steps towards outlawing recording and replaying the past help to obliterate the past, preventing us from learning from it.

Ignorance of the past makes it easier for atrocities to repeat themselves. While we still have Darfurs and Bosnias, I'm optimistic at least some of us are aware of them on some level, and genocide hasn't happened on the same scope that happened in the 20th C. and earlier because technology can allow us to record and replay evil — it's in our face to a greater extent than in the pre-digital era, because technology democratizes abuses of power. It's not perfect, but I think many can agree we're better off with technology than without.

There are two polarized responses in this thread that bother me:

• A neo-Luddite response that says we need to get rid of technology ("go outside and read a book")
• An obscenely naïve response that says that capitalism will correct the course of this technology

I think there is a middle path where we need to be aware of the issues surrounding control of what we see and how we record and replay the past, in order to be informed consumers in what is claimed to be a "free" market. If we might not have much control, we have some ability to know and control how history is written, even if to a minor degree.

I think it's important to be aware of how the people in charge want to control the fidelity of what we see — and particularly how they control the fidelity of the technology that replays how we see the past.

Beyond the obvious 'agendafilter' in this comment (which for some may make the post deserve flagging, although I tried to avoid any editorial agenda in writing the FPP) I also believed the post to be worthy, thoughtful ("best-of") material from the web from a recognized expert in network security. You may disagree and flag appropriately.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on December 24, 2006


Blazecock Pileon: I think there is another danger, that of stifling the growth of new technologies, and new means of communication.

The internet as we know it today would not exist, had such rigorous legislation and lobbying concerning the legality of bits been as rampant then as it is today. It inhibits people entering into the market place for new technologies, and it solidifies the positions of the current market leaders. Imagine if the makers of printing presses decided that they would be in charge of who could read what, where and when, no matter who wrote it.

Had trusted computing been an essential part of personal computers from the beginning, the whole world of open source software wouldn't exist (or would be tremendously crippled). Good bye apache, linux, mysql etc. Try and put a figure on the portion of GDP that those pieces of untrusted software are responsible for.

jfuller: I believe it is illegal to import region free dvd players. Beyond that, they may not be able to work with future display technologies. I don't want to have to use obsolete technology to view the content i have created or own at full resolution. I don't want to force my consumers to use obsolete technology to view the content I have produced, own, or have the rights to distribute.
posted by Freen at 2:17 PM on December 24, 2006


But , lo and behold, the video you just sent is NOT DMBNNHGD code-protected as extablished by the RightLEft Wing Department of Privatized BushClinton Government ! Therefore it may be piratez content ! Oh noes, makes baby Jebus cry ! So it will now play at reduced 640x480 resolution. Wanna make sure it is delivered ok ? Get our PREMIUM channel, just 19.95 or $3 a pop, "enabling" hi-def

the problem with this is that it isn't going to work ... mr consumer is going to ask himself why the machine he bought last year or the year before was capable of doing this without extra surcharges and the machines on the market now aren't

if there's one thing people expect from the computer industry it's that the hardware will be bigger, faster and better ... and when word starts getting around that it isn't, they'll stop buying it

at which point the hardware manufacturers are going to look very hard at microsoft and the content providers and ask why they're bankrupting their industry

blackcock pileon - A neo-Luddite response that says we need to get rid of technology ("go outside and read a book")

that's a misreading of it ... as an audience, we ultimately decide what gets produced under what terms ... in fact, we can even decide whether there will be an audience

content providers are becoming dictatorial and careless of the consumer and it wouldn't hurt if they were painfully reminded of a basic fact in life - that we can do without them, but they cannot have a livelihood in entertainment without our attention and money

it's already starting to happen ... and rather than being luddite, those making it happen are USING the technology, not getting rid of it

(that being said, it's not going to hurt the world at all if we DO go out and read a book a little more often)
posted by pyramid termite at 2:33 PM on December 24, 2006


> as a donating sponsor of the EFF consider legislation like the DMCA and technology like the
> Trusted Computing Initiative to be steps taken to outlaw any recording technology altogether.

as one of mefi's small handful of right-wing loonies I'm totally with you. There are damn few even here who are as paranoid as I (justifiably I believe, but then I'm a loony) about what governments, and quasi-governmental bodies like large corporations, are likely to try in the way of curtailing freedom and increasing their control.

To your PowerPoints I reply that, B, market forces aren't magic but they will tend to oppose DRM, hence governments and guasi-governmental bodies will have to try to oppose market forces with some other form of force. Didn't work in the USSR but it may work in China and it may work here, or wherever; and A, I suggest that it's risky to become dependent only on the latest and highest technology, to the exclusion of other technologies. If knowledge is freedom and power, and knowledge is the farm, then I say it's dumb to bet the farm on technology as easily spied-upon and controlled remotely as e-media and tcp/ip packets. Maintaining the capability of passing the samizdat around in non-digital forms is not neo-Luddism, it's just good sense. As is maintaining the capability of playing the op. 127 quartets on two violins, one viola, and one cello--none of 'em electric.


> The internet as we know it today would not exist, had such rigorous legislation and lobbying
> concerning the legality of bits been as rampant then as it is today. It inhibits people entering
> into the market place for new technologies, and it solidifies the positions of the current
> market leaders.

Only true for little, incremental innovation, where tomorrow's NEW-IMPROVED version is as much like today's as Kama Sutra variations are like each other (#767 is just like #766, only with your fingers crossed.) In no case has a major disruptive technology, from the wheel to the internet, ever been restrained in advance by laws, simply because lawmaking bodies aren't prescient enough to foresee them and regulate or outlaw them in advance of their appearance.
posted by jfuller at 2:45 PM on December 24, 2006


I see the mechanisms Vista implements to "protect" content being a major pain for the big hardware sellers. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others are going to go broke on returns of systems and hardware with "intermittent" problems that are probably untraceably DRM based "protection" interventions. Until and unless DRM logs all its "channel" protection actions that result in degraded user experience, it's just going to look like the hardware is flaky to the average consumer. And if there is much of that happening in the first year or two of Vista, the quick, easy "fix" will be a downgrade to Windows XP, and software and drivers that don't call the DRM functions. If that happens, it will FUBAR "Vista only" hardware designs for quite a while, and give Vista a bad enough reputation that it will recall the Windows ME debacle, only worse.

As much as it wants to rule the world, Microsoft wants to sell O/S licences and upgrades a lot worse. So, until Vista machines can show some major customer benefit, like Windows XP did for stability and hardware support, Vista is an uphill sell. Vista on old hardware doesn't appear to be much of an improvement over Win XP for me, or most folks I know. A Vista that might not even provide solid and impressive performance on new hardware is even less compelling.
posted by paulsc at 2:47 PM on December 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


at which point the hardware manufacturers are going to look very hard at microsoft and the content providers and ask why they're bankrupting their industry

Uhm yeah I forgot that consumers can still vote with their money. Clearly a cut must be given to the hardware industry as well, but I know a couple instances in which the HW industry was pratically bypassed entirely and with success. Not talking about PCs.
posted by elpapacito at 2:58 PM on December 24, 2006


In no case has a major disruptive technology, from the wheel to the internet, ever been restrained in advance by laws

if the governments are powerful, focused and supported enough, it can happen

- the japanese kept guns from being a factor in their society for at least a couple of centuries

- soviet russia did a fairly good job of keeping the typewriter and the telephone from totally disrupting their society until the late 80s

- i don't hear about north korea having any problem with computers or the internet, do you?

of course, the us government isn't quite together or motivated enough to do anything with drm
posted by pyramid termite at 3:00 PM on December 24, 2006


Well technically it wasn't entirely bypassed, but reduced to a shut up or I'll go elsewhere.
posted by elpapacito at 3:01 PM on December 24, 2006


Frankly, jfuller, i think you'll agree with me when i think that perhaps the world would be better off had the catholic church not burned down printing presses. And note pyramid termite's historical notes above.

Frankly, I'd rather not have to fight this problem. And to be honest, draconian, restrictive, cartel-like measures by the major telecom providers are hindering an age of ubiquitous high bandwidth internet.

So what you are saying is this: yes it's a problem, but stop bitching about it! It'll solve itself, sometime before the long run hits! That's great. America's been a technology leader for far too long anyway.
posted by Freen at 5:32 PM on December 24, 2006


another point. It's not that lawmaking bodies are causing this. They aren't it's that the major players are banding together and changing things too fast for lawmakers to understand and react to what's going on.
posted by Freen at 5:33 PM on December 24, 2006


quonsar:
shut off your damn television. visit the library instead of the fucking cinema. stomp that iPod and learn to play an instrument. have a conversation. play a board game. this shit is your fault.
If I do, will you turn off your computer?
posted by Spike at 5:52 PM on December 24, 2006


I too would like to add my allegiance to the "Technophiles Against Luddites and Quonsar" (or TALAQ) faction. Quonsar, you cannot solve problems by turning your back on them. To ignore technology in today's society is to be a solipsist. How would you feel if I told you to stop reading books, simply to spite the printed word?
posted by tehloki at 6:30 PM on December 24, 2006


Yeah fuck that Beethoven guy!

he's in the public domain. bzzzt.

If I do, will you turn off your computer?

moron.
posted by quonsar at 6:36 PM on December 24, 2006


people who misread my remarks as anti-technology or neo-luddite are fucking morons. my remarks were addressed to the legions of ignoramuses who bitch about this stuff while not seeing that thier insatiable appetite for "content industry product" is creating the situation.
posted by quonsar at 6:39 PM on December 24, 2006


my remarks were addressed to the legions of ignoramuses who bitch about this stuff while not seeing that thier insatiable appetite for "content industry product" is creating the situation.

Well now you've let the cat out of the bag and this thread isn't fun anymore.
posted by Alex404 at 7:35 PM on December 24, 2006


moron.

Come now, I was just seeing if you could take your own advice. After all, this whole debacle makes it fairly clear that the PC is the new vessel for the "content industry." And I apologize for misreading you, but when you say things like "shut off your damn television" and "stomp that iPod," it's not hard to construe them as statements of blanket hatred for technology. And for what it's worth, I have almost zero appetite for "content industry product;" I object to things like DRM on a purely moral and ethical basis.
posted by Spike at 7:44 PM on December 24, 2006


After all, this whole debacle makes it fairly clear that the PC is the new vessel for the "content industry."

actually, it makes it fairly clear that it's going to fall flat on its face as a new vessel for the content industry

remember, we have home entertainment systems and whatnot that already deliver this content ... it's microsoft's job to convince the consumer that a pc is better suited to the task

this is NOT the way it's going to be done

(and a computer is not a deliverer of passive entertainment unless that's what you want it to be)
posted by pyramid termite at 7:53 PM on December 24, 2006


when you say things like "shut off your damn television" and "stomp that iPod," it's not hard to construe them as statements of blanket hatred for technology.

yeah, i know. my penchant for exaggerated rhetoric consistently fucks with my ability to express my ideas.
but you morons are all supposed to know that. LOL.
posted by quonsar at 7:55 PM on December 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


But I love my iPod. It's given me a range of choices that radio just can't match. Except for some amusing talk shows and NPR, radio can fuck off and die.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:18 PM on December 24, 2006


I think the key problem with passive entertainment is the fact that people indulge in it far too often. There's nothing wrong with watching a movie or listening to recorded music; but a lot of people will spend half their free time watching TV, and then look at you like a leper if you haven't seen the latest episode of Scrubs or The Sopranos or what-have-you.

Moderation is the key, as they say, but a lot of people set the bar for what's considered "moderate" far too high.

...of course, I say this as someone who's watched pretty much no TV in six months. (Well, depending on whether or not you want to count DVDs.)
posted by Target Practice at 9:48 PM on December 24, 2006


I'm rejecting passive entertainment by burining books and sheet music. Also, I'm leading a campaign to get my local theatre shut down before they make me sit through another version of Nunsense.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:52 PM on December 24, 2006


...but books aren't passive...
posted by Target Practice at 9:53 PM on December 24, 2006


Especially if you are working to get a good rip roaring bonfire going with them!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:01 PM on December 24, 2006


Honestly, you can debunk this article with 10 minutes and Google.

Guttman's worthless, anyway. After all that magic recovery of overwritten data bullshit, why does anyone listen to him?
posted by Jairus at 8:37 AM on December 25, 2006


But I love my iPod. It's given me a range of choices that radio just can't match. Except for some amusing talk shows and NPR, radio can fuck off and die.

I look forward to hearing about how effective the emergency podcast system was following the next major disaster.
posted by srboisvert at 9:33 AM on December 25, 2006


Honestly, you can debunk this article with 10 minutes and Google.

Go for it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on December 25, 2006


Go for it.

I've got guests over right now, but I'll happily put something together later tonight, if you'd like.

This essay is a perfect example of an agenda in search of a supporting argument.
posted by Jairus at 10:10 AM on December 25, 2006


I've got guests over right now, but I'll happily put something together later tonight, if you'd like.

I'd be interested to hear another side.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:31 AM on December 25, 2006


The idea of a market for non-DRM hardware hit the bullseye.

Imagine you own a crippled PC that reverts decades in functionality because of protected content, or older drivers (perhaps used for critical functionality), or whatever the ironically bit-puritan sleazies at M$ dream up. Your dentist notices new pressure points on your teeth since you are gritting them so much more now.

One day you are at a friends house and he shows you his new"DRM free hardware" and all its capabilities. For techies this is nectar that's not easy to resist.

Vista may not only inspire a market in reaction to their oh-so-paradoxial computing cleanliness. I could see an anticipatory market forming.
posted by telstar at 10:51 AM on December 25, 2006


OF COURSE THERE WILL ALWAYS BE AMERIKA-HATERZ WHO WILL BUY COMMIE HARDWARE TO SUPPORT TERRORIST PIRACY. BUT SEE IF WE INVITE THEM TO WATCH MATRIX IV ON OUR HOME THEATER. HELL, MY NEIGHBOR SPENDS A LOT OF TIME ALONE IN HIS BASEMENT WITH A SOLDERING IRON. I'M REPORTING HIM TO HOMELAND SECURITY.
posted by quonsar at 12:08 PM on December 25, 2006


I've been following the planned implementation of vista's DRM measures to protect HD content since it was called palladium.

Drivers WILL be less robust, hardware HAS been redesigned purely to meet the DRM requirements, latencies have gone up, and the sound subsystem IS less flexible than XP's. This all applies regardless of whether you ever want to play HD video or DVD-audio on your surround sound system.

Of course, if you do want to play HD sources on your media PC - which given I do have a media PC, and will have an HDTV soon, seems possible - you have to jump through a whole ton of extra DRM hoops to get things to work.

Vista went RTM a while back for corporate installs, the consumer versions will be very very similar, with only minor bugfixes.

I for one would love to hear how it's all FUD and that vista really is consumer friendly and not designed around the DRM.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:40 PM on December 25, 2006


Really, this "amateurs are better than professionals" idea is silly and needs to go away.

Hmmm. Before audio recordings, before radio, before TV, before superstars, before a "professional entertainment class," before teh Internets, families would assemble around the piano and sing songs together in the evening.

Maybe Vista is our wakeup call. Maybe it's the perfect excuse we all need to go KILL our TVs, KILL our iPODS, KILL our Internets, KILL our (beloved) Metafilter, and go back to entertaining ouselves again for a change?

Nah.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:31 PM on December 25, 2006


before a "professional entertainment class,"

Those goddamn Greeks and their amphitheatres. Screw you Euripides, you've corrupted the youth with passive entertainment for too long now!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:49 PM on December 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. Before audio recordings, before radio, before TV, before superstars, before a "professional entertainment class," before teh Internets, families would assemble around the piano and sing songs together in the evening.

And then the gentlemen would retire to the drawing room to discuss the issues of the day over a fine tipple while the maidservants put the children to bed?

(Children who of course stayed off my lawn)
posted by cillit bang at 8:24 PM on December 25, 2006


And the Clubbie for best fireside storytelling goes to...

...Ug from the Cave of the Six Bear Skulls!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:53 PM on December 25, 2006


And then the gentlemen would retire to the drawing room to discuss the issues of the day over a fine tipple while the maidservants put the children to bed?

no, we threw ratty blankets over the kiddies, got the colleens drunk with cheap whiskey and screwed their brains out

well, that's what MY ancestors were doing
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 PM on December 25, 2006


their $2500 HDTV behaves no better than a regular $200 TV, their $200 graphics card operates no better than a $20 card, etc.

"AtaVista?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:33 AM on December 26, 2006


I note that Jairus came up with no supporting evidence for his extremely strong statements.
posted by Malor at 7:46 AM on December 26, 2006


IronLizard writes "I would love for that to happen. But it won't. No one is that stupid."

MS shipped NTSP6. Was that stupid or an intentional attempt to stick it to Notes shops?
posted by Mitheral at 10:11 PM on December 26, 2006


Devil's advocate: It seems the united states wants to be in the IP business. We want an economy built on the traffic of intangible assets. If this is what the US is going for anything that makes the business model more secure is a good thing.
posted by I Foody at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2006


Trying hard to see how remotely disabling hardware from a central location (passing excutive judgement on perhaps inadvertent actions with no chance for review, etc) will make the "business model more secure."

Oh, do you mean like, say, the "war on drugs" which insures business in illegal contraband will remain robust? Do you anticipate the formation of a huge, lucrative "darknet" black market on the internet?

"The more corrupt a society, the more numerous its laws" - Edward Abbey
posted by telstar at 11:08 AM on December 27, 2006


Jairus-The article was pretty convincing to me. I'd love to see the other side, though. When will you post your links?
posted by OmieWise at 11:10 AM on December 27, 2006


MS shipped NTSP6. Was that stupid or an intentional attempt to stick it to Notes shops?

I'm sorry, I don't follow you. NTSP6 prevents nt from working if its not validated?
posted by IronLizard at 6:07 PM on December 27, 2006


I note that Jairus came up with no supporting evidence for his extremely strong statements.

Sadly, Jairus has not had a moment to himself yet, due to holiday chaos. Maybe tomorrow evening, or during my lunch.
posted by Jairus at 10:37 PM on December 27, 2006


SP6 prevented Lotus Notes clients from authorizing with their server. Microsoft somehow missed this massive break in functionality during beta testing of the service pack. Notes being a major competitor for Exchange it's hard to tell whether this oversight was accidental(stupid) or intentional(malicious).
posted by Mitheral at 8:47 AM on December 28, 2006


Alright -- I still haven't had time, so I will instead leave you with a comment from Bruce Schneier's site, which said what I was going to say, but probably better:
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.
posted by Jairus at 6:07 PM on December 28, 2006


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.

IP licensing compliance and hardware redesigns raise product costs. This in turn necessarily must raise costs for end users, since the product cost is not being directly subsidized by corporations or governments.

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

In reading Note B, Gutmann seems to make a convoluted point about the likelihood of designing a foolproof encryption technology for consumer products. Namely that it is unlikely, given prior experience. I don't know that this is "breaking the laws of physics", but I do know something about Bayesian prior expectations, and so far the only encryption technologies we know that are unbreakable based on known laws of physics are found in research labs, not in consumer products like Vista. Since it was clumsily written, I'll give Schneier half a point.

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).

Unless Schneier can offer documentation on this, Gutmann's references to Microsoft's specifications would imply Schneier's belief is wrong.

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.

This is a non sequitor, as Schneier's assumptions about what end users should be allowed to do based on his own expectations of what is practical have nothing to do with Gutmann's larger point about who has control and end users paying to be controlled.

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

This is assuming people all buy and install secure hardware — as that is the only choice provided in the marketplace — in which case this only reinforces Gutmann's point.

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.

"Invoking Godwin's Law" should be made tantamount to invoking Godwin's Law. Gutmann's point isn't that medical imaging systems won't use Microsoft's content protection, the point is that they won't have a choice because the operating system is inserting itself at all points between high-end content creation hardware, software and data storage.

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.

US law generally frowns on the kind of cabalistic lock-in being done here, from car dealerships to inkjet printer cartidge manufacturers to drug manufacturers. The only reason that content industries get a pass from the legal system so far seems to be their well-funded, highly-motivated lobbyists buying end-runs like the DMCA and global equivalents.

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.

Other than turning off the device's functionality (decryption and playback), how else does Schneier propose this be accomplished? Either it works as described or doesn't, but he doesn't even seem sure of what he's talking about:

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.

First Schneier claims Guttman is lying, and then says what Guttman describes shouldn't hopefully happen too much. "I didn't steal your car and anyway it gets shitty mileage."

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.

This is speculation on Schneier's part without some corroborating reference material.

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.

In the biopharmaceutical industry, IP licensing compliance is a cost, whether or not the full IP portfolio is actually used. To avoid speculation, I make no claim on whether this is the case in the computer industry, but would be surprised if enforcement is really that atomic and efficient.

The only thing that really matters here is the effort required to decrypt pre-authored content.

Unless the signal path itself must be verified, or it would seem to be a straightforward attack to write a short-circuit patch that decrypts in software and fools the computer into thinking decryption is being done along the hardware path. Assuming most decryption is being done in hardware, I'd expect there to be a non-trivial CPU cost to this verification step. I admit I am speculating, here, so perhaps there is no signal verification.

It's all just knee-jerk mumbo-jumbo.

Maybe, but for lack of reference material, I submit Schneier may have to look in the mirror on this one, just a little. There is no doubt that Guttman has particular ideas in mind, but at least there is documentation to back up most of his assertions, as clumsily written some might be.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:33 AM on December 29, 2006


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.

It's likely there will be software tell-tales. If these are badly implemented or exploited by malware, they'll be removed.

blazecock pileon - This is speculation on Schneier's part without some corroborating reference material.

it's more than just speculation - it's pollyannish optimism regarding a company that has a track record of writing buggy, insecure software, being slow to fix buggy, insecure software, and using its position in the market place to bully and control customers, vendors and competitors ... microsoft's software is often "badly implimented" ... it is often "exploited by malware" ... and it is often not corrected

the elephant in the room that few talk about is that vista offers little advancement in real security ... why content providers would trust the safeguards microsoft is offering in vista is beyond me

microsoft should have been rebuilding their operating system with user security first in mind ... it says something about their priorities that they're more interested in content provider security than that of their customers
posted by pyramid termite at 5:22 AM on December 29, 2006


Thanks for the Schneier material, it was just the kind of thing I was looking for. I'm not convinced by his arguments (although my reaction is from my gut, as the technical merits of either position are beyond me at this point), in part because it seems to rely on a beneficent image of MS that is unsupported by their record.
posted by OmieWise at 5:34 AM on December 29, 2006


Meh. I have a single copy of XP that I run under QEMU, mostly so I can test websites in Internet Explorer. Vista can kiss my ass.

When my friends and neighbors get tired of taking it up the ass from Microsoft, I'll be the first to (a) recommend Apple if they don't replicate the Vista DRM "experience" or (b) hook them up with a functioning Linux box. Maybe I'll even put XGL/Beryl on there and give it more eye candy than both OS X AND Vista.

/continues running his $0 software on cheap Cambodian/Taiwanese/wherever the hell it's from hardware

//end holier-than-thou open source geek rant
posted by mazatec at 2:01 PM on January 1, 2007


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