Tag: "drm"

Using the ResetDRM tool on Windows 8

This guide will walk you through using the ResetDRM.exe tool successfully on Windows 8. Out of the box it isn't officially supported, but after re-installing Windows 8.1 a few weeks ago I noticed my Zune / Xbox Music pass music wasn't playing - not the stuff already downloaded nor streaming. So I had to find a way to get it working.

Zune was throwing a couple of different errors codes including C00D11CD and C00D2721. Windows Media Player was also effected, pretty good indication for whatever reason the DRM system on the machine was frazzled. My likely candidate was my RAM being overclocked by about 30% during installation, which did throw a few errors.

Presumbily if you've found this walkthrough you've already got the ResetDRM tool, if not you can download it from the Microsoft website. A quick glance at the tool showed it to be a self-extracting cabinet file.

I used WinRAR to have a look inside, but WinZip or similar tools would also open it up, this can be simply done by dragging it onto WinRAR.

ResetDRM.exe open in WinRAR

From here what we need to do is extract it somewhere, just dragging the files onto the desktop will do the trick.

Next we need an elevated command prompt, which on Windows 8.1 is as simple as right-clicking the Start button and choosing Command Prompt (Admin).

From here we just need to run it, we'll also use the -v option. If you extracted it to your desktop you can run it by typing the following:

%userprofile%\desktop\cleandrm.exe -v

And then hit enter. That should successfully run the tool.

Silent Hunter 5 out very soon and I'm not buying it on release

I've been looking forward to Silent Hunter 5 for a while now as regular readers will know I am a bit of a submarine fan. Playing number 2 and 3 to death, for those wondering Silent Hunter 4 was set in the Pacific and in my opinion nothing could be more boring :-) Silent Number 5 when it was first announced was looking fantastic.

However a few months ago it was announced there would only be one submarine, a Type VII. Now I don't know about you, but I started my career as a U-Boat captain in a Type II before the start of the war, then to get a Type VIIB, and then a couple of years later to start longer range patrols in IX. Desperately trying to hang on until 1945 and with a bit of luck somehow manage to get the epic Type XXI, I could never survive long enough personally but it gave you a goal to try and achieve.

It was also announced the game would end in 1943. Say what?

Both of these facts diminished my interest. But not as much compared to what I heard last week. Ubisoft's new copy protection system that they've got coming down on their games this year has firmly squashed any intentions of getting this game close to release. May be I'll pick up a version when it's cheap somewhere. But I'm not getting it on release and not paying full whack for it, not when there's the possibility of the game not working half the time.

With this new copy protection scheme you're completely reliant on your internet connection to play, and Ubisoft's ability to maintain its servers. You need to stay connected to Ubisoft's servers or else you can't play. If you connection drops while playing you're kicked out to the main menu.

On the plus side there's no disc check. Or an activation limit. There's other cool things that I've been keen to get for a while, server-side saved games (ideally with a local cache but not in this case) and config. Like some of the Steam cloud stuff we've been seeing lately, so that's all cool. But then of course there's the bad things...

My opinion has always been that copy protection systems are pointless and that they only inconvenience your paying customers. After all the people who pirate it don't have to worry about the copy protection systems, they've already been ripped out.

If a game does have to require some form of copy protection, in my opinion these days it's reasonable to have an install-time activation over the internet. However, and importantly, your activation count should reset over time. Like it does with Windows, you can activate it once, try again the next day on a different computer and not be able to. But try again in a few months time and it'll activate again. This is more reasonable and takes into account people getting new computers.

There is of course always the danger that the company will go under, which is why they should always have a patch developed to remove the activation either at the end of the supported life, or if the company is about to go under. Ubisoft have however said that they will release a patch if and when the online service is shut down so that "core" gameplay remains unaffected.

Discs checks nowadays are also getting less viable as people start having computers without optical drives. And let's face it, it's annoying.

A Steam-like system is borderline usable. However the one big issue with Steam is you're required to be online to put Steam into an offline mode. Meaning if your internet connection dies and you want to play a game. You're screwed. A big issue for me as I'm much more likely to waste time playing games if the internet goes down.

Something like Fallout 3 is a good example of copy protection done right. It checks the disc on install. And then if you want all the cool stuff like being able to sign-in to Xbox/Games for Windows Live you need to use the Live access key and be connected the internet. But the game doesn't suddenly break if you lose your connection.

The minimum I would like to see Ubisoft change would be scrapping the whole booting you to the menu when the connection is lost. If the connection goes down, fine, keep playing, cache the save games locally until the connection is restored. That way most people at least won't notice if their connections dies. That's my biggest issue with this. Nothing would be worse than preparing to strike at a convoy you've been following for 3 days and losing all your progress because the connection dropped briefly.

Ideally though. Stop bothering with DRM, too much money is wasted developing it, it wastes more money in support costs and just hassles paying customers, and let's be honest. It doesn't stop people from pirating.

Silent Hunter 5, aside from the one submarine type and the game ending in 1943 and the obvious questionable DRM issues, looks like a fantastic game, and it is sad that so many people will not be buying it, at least on release due to the restrictions that Ubisoft have placed upon it, but we have to send a message saying that we aren't going to accept this level of copy protection.

Peter Gutmann's Vista DRM claims, again

This guy just doesn't know when to quit. I saw his claims resurface on PC World:

Vista Prevents Users Playing High-Def Content

Vista's complicated, overzealous copy protection system is degrading even premium content's that's not copy protected, such as high-definition home movies, says researcher Peter Gutmann.

Nice to see PC World have heard of a thing called balanced reporting. How about the counter views being published too, huh? Like the fact is Gutmann is factually wrong on many of his claims. A lot of this is just regurgitated from his previous "paper" which I dealt with here.

If this guy is in the real world can he please explain why I can watch HD video I've downloaded from the internet on my machine?

Can he explain why Ed Bott found Gutmann's "mysterious" application that he claims doesn't exist on the file system, in the System32 folder?

Can he explain why Paul Thurrott is watching HD DVDs on his PC with his Xbox 360 HD DVD drive? Despite not having HDCP on his monitor? It's because the software, in Thurrott's case AnyDVD, decides what it's going to do with the content, and not Windows Vista as I explained last year.

Can he explain why Brandon LeBlanc is producing HD videos on his Windows Vista machine?

If you believe the stuff this Peter Gutmann has to say, these everyday tasks which millions of people are doing with Windows Vista today are nothing less than miracles.

Windows Vista DRM nonsense

There's a lot of nonsense spreading across the internet over the DRM support in Windows Vista, I won't link to the article itself as most of it is inaccurate and those posting it everywhere are in even less accurate in how they interpret it. I've seen it posted several time on Microsoft's newgroups and of course it's all over Slashdot and the like.

The article basically claims that your media playback will be crippled in Windows Vista because of the new protected content pathways. This is false.

Say you've just bought Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon", released as a Super Audio CD (SACD) in its 30th anniversary edition in 2003, and you want to play it under Vista. Since the S/PDIF link to your amplifier/speakers is regarded as insecure, Vista disables it, and you end up hearing a performance by Marcel Marceau instead of Pink Floyd.

This is an example of how the article is not only factually wrong on many issues but deliberately tries to be misleading.

He is perfectly true in saying that the SACD version won't play under Windows Vista, but that's not because of Microsoft. It won't play on any PC, Windows, Macintosh, Linux or any other PC operating system because Sony won't licence the drive for use in a PC.

We'll assume he means the CD Audio version... Well he's wrong. The protected media pipelines in Windows Vista, don't apply for any content on the market today, which includes HD DVD and Blu-ray discs on sale at the moment.

The protected media pipelines will only be activated on content that requests it. HD DVD and Blu-ray both have this in the specification and the general feeling going around is the film studios won't start using this until at least 2011.

When you actually place one of these discs into a Windows Vista machine, the disc, or more accurately whatever application you use to play the disc, can ask the system what level of protection it supports. The system can return things like, all drivers are signed or video is going over HDMI, and so on. The application then can decide if it wants to; play the full quality content, downgrade the quality or refuse playback completely.

One of the things the trolls on the Microsoft newsgroups keep going on about is they'll just use Linux, or stick with Windows XP. They both fail to grasp and the article in question deliberately misleads them into thinking that full quality content will work on Windows XP or the Macintosh, or on Linux. Guess what? It won't.

The disc and playback application will ask the system how secure it is, and won't get a reply; it'll then play it in low quality mode or can refuse to play it back at all.

If you want to blame someone for all this, go talk to the MPAA. They're the people who said they didn't want full quality playback on PCs to try and reduce piracy. Microsoft offered a solution; they'll provide a way for the disc and application to know how secure the platform is so it can decide if it wants to playback in high quality.

So if you want your future HD DVD or Blu-ray films, when they start using the higher level copy protection, to playback at full quality, you'll need to use Windows Vista, or a future operating system with a similar technology. That goes for Mac OS, if they don't already have such a system and Linux too.

I'll stress again:

Windows Vista won't degrade or refuse to play your existing media, CDs, DVDs etc.

It won't decide to shutdown outputs to try and prevent copying with your existing media, it'll behave exactly like Windows XP.

The protected media pathways are only activated when protected content requests them.

HD DVD and Blu-ray films on the market today don't use this level of protection, and aren't expected to for several years yet.

The operating system doesn't decide what can play and what cannot play; it just reports the level of protection the system supports.

Full quality playback of protected content will only work on operating systems that support it. That means Apple will have to build a similar system for Mac OS, and something will have to be done with Linux, otherwise you just get low quality, or none at all.

If you read something that sounds nuts, it probably is nuts.

So what we need to do is pressure the film industry, not Microsoft, and make sure they don't roll out this level of copy protection and in my opinion give up the whole DRM effort entirely.

Thanks to Larry Osterman and Paolo Marcucci for information they shared on this topic on the Channel 9 forums.

Update 20th January 2007: Microsoft have addressed this issue on the Windows Vista team blog essentially re-enforcing what I've already written and covering some areas of the paper I didn't have the information I needed to address.