The Perils of Windows Vista and Built-in DRM

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Why Use Windows Vista?

From January 30th, all new PCs will come pre-installed with Windows Vista. There are several good reasons not to use it.

If that article’s a bit long and technical for you, read on…

Vista is all about ‘premium content’. This is music or video that’s copyrighted by one of the major music or movie companies.

Basically, if any such content is being played, Vista goes into a sort of ‘protected mode’. When this is happening, your computer becomes very careful not to ‘leak’ this protected content. That means that any devices on your machine that can play this content (eg. your video card, sound card etc) have to work in a special way.

The idea is (for example) that your video card will send coded signals to your monitor, so that you couldn’t plug in some sort of recorder and simply scoop up the signal and record it.

The problem is, not all monitors/TVs can handle these coded signals. If yours doesn’t then Vista will reduce the quality of the output so that it’s not worth recording. Incidentally, you don’t get a choice, it just happens.

Futher than that, if you’re listening to a CD, then your monitor may go fuzzy at the same time! Just because one thing is handling protected content, the other may become crippled as well!

As if that’s not enough, some devices can simply become disabled, either during premium content playback, or at some arbitrary time in the future as decided by Microsoft.

Basically, if a device (or it’s associated driver software) are found to be leaking content sometime in the future, then Microsoft can stop it working when you next update your computer.

The definition of ‘premium content’ is arbitrary enough for me to suspect that sooner rather than later Microsoft, Apple, Sony, etc. will cripple or disable playback of Non-DRM media.

So when you play an MP3 that has no DRM, your Vista OS will only playback the MP3 with the lowest quality settings. For example an MP3 encoded at 300kb may only playback with 20kb WMA streaming quality.

They aren’t doing this now, but it could start with any given automatic update.

Linux may not be just the better choice, it may be the only choice.

Read the whole article…

UPDATE: Gutmann responds to the MS “Blog” entry directly and tries to unravel the PR spin. The technical comments have been integrated into the main body of the writeup.

Hattip: The discarded lies hyperlinkopotamus link by evariste

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