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.


Comment from: Bryan Sampica [Visitor]  
Bryan Sampica


Thanks for clearing this up. I initially read the article in question with some did however sound nuts.

It's important to remember, that even if it WAS currently implemented or "scheduled" exactaly like the original article describes - it'd never make it to market that way. If you've been in the software industry or used a computer for more than solitaire for any length of time, you've seen the "best laid plans" go to pot on public opinion.

Heck - when the DRM was first introduced, it clearly stated that copying media of any type protected by the DRM was strictly prohibited. The public was in outrage...I mean, how in the world were we EVER going to backup our CD's onto our computer to prevent "disc shuffle". Now I ask the same people how many have thoes same songs on their PC, a burned copy in their car, a copy on their IPOD with the original disc sitting safely in their CD-Tower.

This type of fanatisism can only lead to the "herd" mentality which just further feeds the "trolls" Paul refers to in his rebuttal.

Good post Paul.

2nd January 2007 @ 15:13
Comment from: Patrik [Visitor]  

I've already made the switch from Windows to Linux and I love it. This article and all the DRM infections made a final push. Having used Windows extensively for 10+ years, being MCSE NT4,2000,2003 I've finally settled with Linux and I'm not looking back.

3rd January 2007 @ 17:06
Comment from: Chris Samuel [Visitor]  
Chris Samuel

Hi Paul,

First off your anti-referral spam system, whilst laudable, is blocking links from my legit post on this - which I cannot put the link to up or this site complains it is an "invalid comment" !

Secondly, the application will not be able to decide whether or not the premium content plays or whether unprotected outputs are turned off - all that functionality is moved into the Vista protected kernel space and it will decide for you.

Basically media players become "remote controls" if you like for the Vista media system in kernel space. This is what Microsofts own document "Output Content Protection and Windows Vista" says. I've got a post about that document at my blog, but again I cannot put the URL in. :-(

So yes, the content must be able to assert that it is protected content, but given Microsofts poor track record in getting basic security correct there is plenty of places where this could go badly wrong for them.

3rd January 2007 @ 20:18
Comment from: James Mortensen [Visitor]  
James Mortensen

I thoroughly read the article by Peter Gutmann, "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection",

At the bottom of the article, the author has cited various sources, some from Microsoft, that clearly state that Windows Vista has the ability to disable hardware that does not meet certain specifications.

There are two points that I want to clarify:

First, regardless of whether or not Linux and the Macintosh will be able to play protected content, I believe that the cost of hardware will increase as a result of Microsoft's large market share. Hardware vendors -- in order to maintain their market share -- will be required to manufacture hardware that meets the specific requirements of Microsoft Vista; otherwise, that hardware will not function properly on Windows Vista.

Second, Windows Vista will not affect the ability of other operating systems to play protected content, since it is Windows Vista that determines whether or not the content can be played. Thus, I believe this may create a market opportunity for Linux and Apple to gain more market share in the business realm! Industries such as Dental and Hospital imaging rely on picture perfect graphical representations; however, they don't rely on the need to display protected content. If I were Apple, Red Hat, or Novell, I would concentrate on two areas:

1. Create Hardware specifically for Apple and Linux that does not involve the complexities of content management.

2. Develop a software platform that makes porting existing Windows applications to Linux and the Macintosh, as industries that don't rely on protected content in order to do business will be looking for a cheaper solution than the overinflated prices that will result from Microsoft's Windows Vista!

4th January 2007 @ 06:12
Comment from: hAl [Visitor]  

Micrsoft them selves have a nice document describing the Content protection on Vista

@Robert Strong
If you have a 3rd party application that is able to play certain media content on your XP machine that same 3rd party application should also work on Vista.

However on both XP and Vista platforms that 3rd party application should also conform to any licenced DRM requirements present in the specific media file.

4th January 2007 @ 08:53
Comment from: Daniël Mantione [Visitor]  
Daniël Mantione

So? Is it normal that mediaplayer will show poor quality without technical reasons? Should we consumers accept that?

I'll tell you what will happen. aacs will be cracked, just like css (it is being reported that it already is). Just like with css, the industry will try to fight it, but fail, since playing disks on Linux is perfectly legal.

Then, Linux mediaplayers will play in full quality, while Windows users need to look at degraded content.

4th January 2007 @ 15:49
Comment from: Shawn Merrick [Visitor]  
Shawn Merrick

It seems to me that the underlying Vista code which checks the machine 30 times per second to verify that content protection has not been hacked will cause a disappointing slowdown, especially noticeable to gamers. This issue alone makes the point for me, that performance and reliability will suffer more under Vista than Windows XP.

I love what MS has done with Windows XP and would not bash them. Their efforts to stop piracy are clearly understandable. However, do we really need the machine to act so counter-productive under Vista? I believe Peter Gutmann has referenced his sources fairly and very soon time will tell how Vista impacts the industry. The impact can not be stopped, but I think there will be some outcry following it.

I do think MS could have done this better for the consumer rather than the Hollywood industry. That the Linux community has focused on this article for their cause, does not in itself make the facts into "FUD" as you say.

4th January 2007 @ 16:28
Comment from: [Member]

"This issue alone makes the point for me, that performance and reliability will suffer more under Vista than Windows XP."

Reliability is provably better than Windows XP. Microsoft has done extensive reliability testing.

I've been using Windows Vista as my main operating system for the past year. The gaming performance stuff is unfounded. Windows Vista is slower on low-memory systems because it has a larger memory footprint than Windows XP (say 256MB), but once you're above that I can't tell any difference.

4th January 2007 @ 16:59
Comment from: Roy Triesscheijn [Visitor]  
Roy Triesscheijn

I just wanted to post that I agree with your blog, although it has a slightly pinkish colour. It's nice to hear frome people who are on the internet telling people they like there OS instead of bashing around and saying that sucks and still using it everyday.

4th January 2007 @ 18:16
Comment from: Shawn Merrick [Visitor]  
Shawn Merrick

Hi Paul,

I appreciate your Blog site, and publishing my comments, as well as responding to them. Your point about memory is of course agreed and to be expected. My earlier computing days were with machines having only 64K (yes, kilobytes), so I'm very proud of my modern machines and look for efficiency and economy in them.

I plan to do some hands-on testing with Vista soon too. I'm glad to hear your experience with it has been good.

I wonder if maybe we are at the point where modern hardware has so many extra/unused computing cycles that it really doesn't matter if we are "wasting" one every 30 milliseconds for content protection? Maybe we are lucky and this will not be perceptible?

Still, I think people who actually benchmark their video performance for gaming will prove or disprove this whole issue with indisputeable numbers and facts. I'm currently reminded of the old Windows 98 versus Windows ME gaming comparisons on the same hardware. Hopefully Vista will fare better as you say!

I'm sure you'll agree those of us working with computers day to day need good facts rather than speculation or misinformation.

4th January 2007 @ 19:38
Comment from: Donnie Hale [Visitor]  
Donnie Hale

The article states:

"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."

Obviously, the "disc" itself can't ask the system how secure it is - something in software has to do it. My question is what's to prevent a playback application from lying to the hardware about how secure the system is? Or is "playback application" a poor use of terminology and it's really the driver for the hardware that asks about security? In which case wouldn't it only be adherence to law that would prevent someone from writing and signing a driver that bypassed or lied about this security check?



4th January 2007 @ 21:57
Comment from: El Guest [Visitor]
El Guest

LOL you work for MS so you only say what your boss told you to say

Name 1 advantage of DRM for a consumer...

5th January 2007 @ 07:04
Comment from: hAl [Visitor]  

[quote]My question is what's to prevent a playback application from lying to the hardware about how secure the system is? Or is "playback application" a poor use of terminology and it's really the driver for the hardware that asks about security?[/quote]
The playback application is responsible for dealing with the drm on the protected media content and has to use the particular licensed method of that protected media.
Original playback applications will probably be delivered by the companies providing the drm. Think iTunes or Windows Media Player. However an application that were to circumvent the drm protection and then deliver the content as unprotected to Vista would have no troubles playing the content on Vista.

However creating and/or selling and in some cases mayby even possesing an application that circumvent copy protections might well be illegal in a lot countries. Still it is likely that in future an application that play protected contect as unprotected will become a hot item on all platforms.

5th January 2007 @ 09:16
Comment from: [Member]

"LOL you work for MS so you only say what your boss told you to say"

I don't work for MS, nor do I have a boss at MS who tells me what to say.

"Name 1 advantage of DRM for a consumer... "

There are none, maybe if you read my post all the way through you'd see that.

hAl nails it on the head with his comment.

5th January 2007 @ 14:26
Comment from: Adrian Midgley [Visitor]  
Adrian Midgley

Being one of "An elite group of individuals in online and offline technical communities around the world who share their passion for Microsoft products and technologies with others." is indeed not exactly the same as working for MS or having a boss at MS dictating for repetition, but is also a clear link.

The index article looks well-written and is referenced in detail. It is possible that it includes errors, but it is not obviously either FUD or all wrong.

The licencing regime for current content is still a problem, and for future content is another.

Vista is reported by Microsoft to include several means to degrade media playback, this is not, however you may swerve from what is discussed in the main reference to something else you pick, false.

8th January 2007 @ 04:27
Comment from: Uexplode [Visitor]  

I realy dont think MPAA controll one of the biggest companys In the world. So dont blame MPAA. Blame MS.

12th January 2007 @ 03:07
Comment from: John [Visitor]

Consider this article also,,,9075-2536050,00.html

Seems to point to digital and with analog systems not being affected?

So much information and too little factual content. So what is it...MS says Vista will not play the stuff, or will it play the stuff, or is it just digital systems affected...or what?

12th January 2007 @ 12:15
Comment from: Max [Visitor]  

Dear Paul
Im not even a Vista user and the world of DRM has come crashing down on my personal convenience of using my 2005 PC/Windows Media to watch a Dish TV recorded show. Apparently someone has locked down my access to use this PC to watch my paid for DISH TV media? I am disturbed and looking for answers and solutions. Can you reccomend a way to turn off DRM so that I can watch my paid for TV shows on my PC??
Thank you

14th January 2007 @ 00:53
Comment from: AIRTONIX [Visitor]  

sorry, but massive lobby groups do tell waht M$ what to do when it comes to things that will drive consumer behaviour.

banks do it. they say teh stockmarket is a force of nature....utter bollocks. the world bank is a force of nature more like it.

A force of nature un-beknowest to the children of israel.

15th January 2007 @ 01:34
Comment from: AxMi-24 [Visitor]  

So your argument is that media industry is not using ICT flag yet so everything is just dandy? That is the oldest trick in the book. Introduce Vista now with all the DRM subsystems and than wait a few years before it is well spread out and than BAM.

No part of that is useful to the customer. And believe it or not it's the customer that bought the computer and the OS not the media industry. If MS had said "go to hell" to media industry they would have had to drop the whole idea. Can you really say that the media industry would ignore the Windows platform? Especially now when the media PC is so hot? That would be a suicide, and MS is definitely big enough to do it (not to mention astronomic amounts of good PR that would have generated).

So to sum it up. Vista has DRM and MS sold their users to the Hollywood. If that is not a reason to criticise MS and Vista than I don't know what is.

17th January 2007 @ 15:43
Comment from: Leon [Visitor]  


May be Pink Floyd won't sound like Marcel Marceau in Vista but then this is just a tongue-in-cheek comment.

Is there anything in Peter's article that is factually wrong? Unless you have HDCP support all the way from the disk to the monitor, HD content won’t play. To me, this is good enough for me to look elsewhere. Perhaps I have no where else to turn to. XP, Linux, Mac will have the same problem but that this another issue.

Best quote so far
“Vista has DRM and MS sold their users to the Hollywood. If that is not a reason to criticise MS and Vista than I don't know what is.”

18th January 2007 @ 06:16
Comment from: Yours Truly [Visitor]  
Yours Truly

Paul wrote:

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.

Yours Truly adds:

... or use a standalone player which will soon be cheaper than a Vista PC anyway.

19th January 2007 @ 05:30
Comment from: Andy [Visitor]  

The DRM it self is not the main issue here!

Regardless of what....

The facts are that Vista has become more bloated and complex just to be able implement these DRM requirements.

That hurts everyone!

That will lead to:
* increased compexity for everyone (drivers, 3rd party apps),
* more expensive development costs,
* Less open source and openess
* less control for developers..

Now we are back to the old IBM days, remember the microchannel failure due to patents and licenses? (See wikipedia)

Nobody, nor even the Die hard MS fans ,can't deny that!

Vista is a big step back for mankind! (sure there's some goodies in Vista, I won't deny that), but the DRM is not worth it!

So, what to do? Stick with XP for a couple of years more! I see no real reason for Vista, just a bloated desktop GUI fluff.....

21st January 2007 @ 23:38
Comment from: praxis22 [Visitor]  

But XP will refuse to play DVD's. I know this as a colleague sitting oposite me has this problem with his PC. When he tries to play certain DVD's it says he's not allowed to as he has a TV out port enabled. He bought the PC retail, and hasn't doen much with it, but he also doesn't care much as his DVD player works just fine.

However, XP will refuse to play DVD's, that being the case I expect Vista will do just the same.

22nd January 2007 @ 16:09
Comment from: Lopka Xmass [Visitor]
Lopka Xmass

Strange things happens too many times to be just an occasion

23rd January 2007 @ 10:48
Comment from: dadkins [Visitor]  

Uhm... yeah!
VAIO here, BD drive built-in from the factory(Sony).
XP MCE, also from factory.
WinDVD BD For VAIO, factory installed also.

Playback Blu-ray? Uhm, yes!
Full quality? Yes!
HDMI? You betcha!
Optical output? Oh yeah!

Perhaps a "normal" PC with XP may refuse to playback a Blu-ray DVD at full picture quality... but not this one!

BD is mainly why I bought it! ;)

Am I planning on installing the free Vista upgrade? Perhaps, in a year or so.
Why screw with something that is working now?
Plus, by that time "someone" may have a fix for "us" that will kill all this (real or fantasy) DRM garbage.

24th January 2007 @ 18:27
Comment from: n0mad [Visitor]  

Sometimes, "fear, uncertainty and doubt" are the correct response. The limitations of Windows DRM are already very, very real.

About a year ago I needed to use Media Player 10 on Windows XP to copy music to a portable player that uses this as its default library manager. That is, I ripped my own store-bought CD (using third-party software), compressed it to MP3 (using LAME) and then tried to copy it. Media Player attempted to contact the Internet, but failed because I'd firewalled it. It returned a message stating: "Failed to obtain license," and refused to copy the music. My music, from My computer to My player.

Support for an OS is based on trust. Microsoft has eroded that trust, sending the clear message that the happiness of the content industry is more important to it than the happiness of its users. Personally, I'm paying for a computer operating system, not a copyright cop. I don't give a crap if my PC can play HD-DVD movies; I care that it is My PC, and looks out for my incredibly valuable time and even more valuable data to the exclusion of all other considerations.

Maybe Microsoft should offer a DRM-free version of Vista that omits the ability to play high-def discs. If they don't, it's a legitimate market opportunity for someone else. I might even buy DRM-OS for my living room... but it's never going to be welcome on my desktop.

29th January 2007 @ 22:31
Comment from: Freddfx [Visitor]  

The MPAA isn't one company... but Disney, Sony, Time Warner, News Corp., NBC Universal, and Viacom... yes 6 huge corporations with huge influence.

29th January 2007 @ 23:41
Comment from: Freddy [Visitor]  

To me it is not a question of "Vista DRM", but DRM per se. We've already seen the ugly side of DRM creep in to our computing and media experience with DVD region codes which restrict playback of media I have legally purchased with my money.

To the apple fanboys, this company is no saint. They have a stranglehold on the FairPlay DRM infested music by restricting it to apple-only products like the ipod, because they won't license FairPlay to anyone else. Why do you think it's being declared illegal in Norway today? Heck, even microsoft's PFS is licensed to many players in the market, and I'd support them.

With vista, DRM and restrictions just keep getting more and more invasive. Why should some company I don't care about (MPAA/MS/Sony/etc) dictate what I can and cannot do / watch / hear with hardware or software I have paid for with my money?

Treating long time customers like criminals only pushes them towards that end. I know this for a fact, after many of my DVD's refused to play on my own player, I had to resort to cracks. I'll let you read that again - the MPAA/MS will not allow me to play my own DVDs on my own PC, something I've paid for with money, and the only way of getting it working is through cracks.

And how about this stupid MPAA enforced check at 30 times per second? It does absolutely nothing to improve stability or performance, and everything to decrease reliability. And we get to pay $$$ for this beautiful "feature".

I can only see this ending badly for microsoft, the media monopolies and the customers. I know for sure I ain't gonna get vista.

No matter what you claim, Paul, facts are facts, and they are out there in black and white for all to see.

31st January 2007 @ 02:41
Comment from: mooboo [Visitor]  

lol, it is never your music. nor your movie. it maybe your player, your computer, and your money. the rights to the music and movie had never traferred to you. you are merely granted the right to play the movie/music in according to the condictions set out in the license aggreement.

1st February 2007 @ 00:13
Comment from: Jim [Visitor]  

"LOL you work for MS so you only say what your boss told you to say"

I had felling he is just another M$ lap dog when I started reading LOL

1st February 2007 @ 20:49
Comment from: Sara Loughton [Visitor]  
Sara Loughton

Microsoft absolutely sucks. Deal with it or wake up and smell the roses. There are no two ways about it, none at all.

8th February 2007 @ 09:47
Comment from: Andrew Paterson [Visitor]  
Andrew Paterson

One advantage of DRM for the consumer? Sure, subscription music services. I pay £15 a month and download anything from 4-20 albums during that period as part of the flat fee. Without DRM I'd be considerably poorer or more likely wouldn't download anywhere near as much music.

Strangely enough Apple don't support PlaysForSure or other subscription standards on the IPod... Mmm possibly because it destroys the I-Tunes business model?

17th February 2007 @ 01:28
Comment from: Naomy Oemb [Visitor]
Naomy Oemb

Asta la vista, wht does it mean?

19th February 2007 @ 14:32
Comment from: Ramses [Visitor]  

"lol, it is never your music. nor your movie. it maybe your player, your computer, and your money. the rights to the music and movie had never traferred to you. you are merely granted the right to play the movie/music in according to the condictions set out in the license aggreement."
To the comment above, get a life. If you want that kind of world then I wish you the best. I have the rights to scratch my CD's, shoot them, or burn them in a fire. I also have every right to copy them and listen to them on different platforms.

I tried to upgrade to Windows Vista and I can honestly say I hate it. I've already started the path back down to Windows XP. As for the DRM's that come with Windows Media Player already...I don't use Windows Media Player at all! Ever since I had problems with DRM's the first time I stopped using it. Basically, you'll be fine if you don't use built in Windows components.

P.S. I'm sticking with Windows XP or Mac until the DRM issue is addressed properly.

20th February 2007 @ 21:37
Comment from: Luigi [Visitor]  

MS is all about getting your clients on hook for the money-grabbing.

DRM is only but the last strategy by MS to monopolize everything PC. But there's a catch:

Hollywood, Music companies and TV need to stop piracy to stop the blood loss. With the new speeds in the internet, anyone can download full movies, music libraries in eMule, Bittorrent and the likes in a matter of hours, even minutes. The technology has granted piracy new frontiers never imagined. The problem is that the *users* want the trust of the big companies only to rob them with less sophistication. Come one,
who is really concerned with big ind? I'm not. Screw them. Internet should be about freedom.

So why would they be concerned with us? Users want free content, so they hack and crack everything out of sight. To the breakage of trust between producers and consumers, big companies only have one option left: martial law.

I don't blame them. Users have repeatedly shown not to be morally superior to these gangsters. I'll just keep on fighting against them as a good hacking user!

27th February 2007 @ 11:06
Comment from: Ramses [Visitor]  

The movie industry AND the music industry have both stated now that piracy really doesn't affect them. Most of us actually go out and buy 1 copy of a movie or a music CD if we want it because we want to support the people who make these things. DRM's will NOT stop any pirates. DRM's do not currently stop pirates and in the future will not stop pirates. They are not a solution. The real question is, do we really need a solution for something that really isn't a problem? No, it comes down to projected money loss that the industries "think" that they can get out of the regular user.

28th February 2007 @ 15:30
Comment from: Vic Reynauld [Visitor]  
Vic Reynauld

@Ramses: "To the comment above, get a life."

You're the one who needs to get a life for snapping at someone who is completely accurate regarding the law.

I don't like the law anymore than you do, but fact of the matter is when you get a CD or a DVD you only own the plastic, not the content. You are LICENSED to use the content on the plastic.

Sure, you can go destroy that CD or shoot some holes in the DVD because hey, that's YOUR plastic. But you're not allowed, legally, to do whatever you want with the CONTENT on the media.

Plastic: Yours.
Content on the plastic: NOT yours. You have the right to playback the content on that one item for your own private use as per the licensing agreement you choose to abide by when you open the plastic.

That is FACT.
LEGAL fact.
17 USC. So many people would stop making stupid arguments if they just took the time to read it in its entirety.

3rd March 2007 @ 05:48
Comment from: Anonymous [Visitor]  

Yeah, its the law, but its WRONG, and needs to be changed. Thats like saying I can get a car, but the company tells me how I am allowed to use the car, and how I am not. How I am allowed to drive the car, and How I am not. And If I buy the car, I cant put any rims on it that are not their brand or tires. I cant use non-Company Certified Fuel to run my car. It's illegal, and it needs to change. It's an out and out Restriction on our freedoms, something people in the good old "land of the free and home of the brave" Seem to lazy to care about, and when they find out, too cowardly to do anything about it. It is an outrage.

4th March 2007 @ 03:12
Comment from: Ramses [Visitor]  

"That is FACT.
LEGAL fact.
17 USC. So many people would stop making stupid arguments if they just took the time to read it in its entirety."

I read the article and your comment in its entirety. I regarded it as a stupid comment.

It's amazing how this argument comes up. It's usually from the following people:
1) Artists
2) Large companies with self interests and money.
3) Stupid, uninformed people.

You've heard of Fair Use before right? That's the law too. I've included a link here for people who don't realize they have rights and their own purchased software.

The DMCA laws are about as useful as the prohibition laws on alcohol. It's impossible to enforce and entirely useless. Law or no law, it's in direct conflict with Fair Use.

On a side note, I created a program called "burn.exe" that attaches an image of fire to the back of content of my choosing. I created a slash.exe which tears the content right in half and a program called destroy.exe which nukes the content.

I CAN do anything I want with it because it's my right.

12th March 2007 @ 19:09
Comment from: Jason [Visitor]

"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."

This is incorrect. Even though the media does not require it, all high definition players on the PC currently do. PowerDVD actually refuses to play HD DVDs at all if your video card and monitor do not properly support HDCP.

20th March 2007 @ 01:44
Comment from: [Member]

"This is incorrect. Even though the media does not require it, all high definition players on the PC currently do. PowerDVD actually refuses to play HD DVDs at all if your video card and monitor do not properly support HDCP."

I'm talking about the additional rights management in Windows Vista, not existing rights management in Windows XP. Like checking for signed drivers etc.

20th March 2007 @ 09:26
Comment from: Brian [Visitor]  

Ramses is completely right about fair use law, but it is true that you actually don't own the content of a disk. You buy a license to use it as per copyright and fair use law. You have great points though. Before the DMCA, the movie industry would actually be the ones breaking the law by enforcing these copyright measures which are a blatant violation of fair use and anti-trust laws and their own license agreements which permit you to use the disc for "your private viewing." In my opinion, the DMCA will go the way of Prohibition. It's useless, a violation of rights, and it hasn't, doesn't, and will not work.

31st March 2007 @ 04:31
Comment from: Brian [Visitor]  

I don't work for MS, nor do I have a boss at MS who tells me what to say.

Your CV says that you are a "Pre-release software/hardware analyst (UAT)" and that you won "Microsoft MVP for Windows Shell/User." In my opinion, the first part qualifies you as working for Microsoft, even if you are not drawing a paycheck from them (which as far as we know, you might be), and the second part indicates to me that you have a very strong positive bias towards Microsoft.

31st March 2007 @ 04:37
Comment from: Dante [Visitor]

"That is FACT.
LEGAL fact.
17 USC. So many people would stop making stupid arguments if they just took the time to read it in its entirety."

I have, in fact, read it.

And the particular copy of a movie or an album that you have purchased, YOU OWN that content. The companies and the artists own the distribution rights to the content, and they own the right to do what they want with that content. It is true that the consumer does not own these rights. HOWEVER, the artists and the industry do NOT own the data that comes on that CD or DVD. It is YOURS.


1st April 2007 @ 18:02
Comment from: mark [Visitor]

It's nice to see a counterpoint, however most of what you say or "debunk" doesn't really deal with the core issues.

So what if no HD-DVDs use the content protection now? What matters is it can, and most likely will. Most people do have a problem with legitimate hardware being disabled and being treated like criminals.

My guess is Hollywood is promising not to enable certain aspects of the content protection for now, because most people haven't started buying HD-DVD/BD players and disks and wouldn't if they had to deal with things like this. Once the format war is over and consumers are "addicted" to their HD disks, they'll probably start implementing it. So if you buy it now, you'll always have to know that if you don't have approved hardware one day your legally purchased content won't play properly.

One other thing. The idea that poor little Microsoft is being forced or
"bullied" into doing this by big, mean content companies is frankly, absurd. Microsoft (which of course is far larger and wealthier than most of these companies) is under no obligation to do any of this. Microsoft even has the upper hand, since Hollywood is not going to refuse to allow their new HD optical disks to play on the vast majority of computers. Microsoft has always wanted to have lots of control over what people do with its softare, and there's no reason why Microsoft should be viewed as anything other than a willing accomplice.

To defeat DRM of course the content industry's views must be opposed, however software makers and other industries (as well as corrupt congressmen) are enablers. And the content providers would be forced to change if companies like Microsoft told them they wouldn't support it. No one who's against unethical DRM, IMHO, should give Microsoft a free pass.

6th April 2007 @ 00:27
Comment from: mark [Visitor]


Good point. Anyone so eager to defend a company's hostile actions toward users (not even to mention being part of "An elite group of individuals in online and offline technical communities around the world who share their passion for Microsoft products and technologies with others") is at the least definitely biased.

The only thing the article shows is that some people went a little overboard and might have gotten a few minor facts wrong, not that the whole DRM issues in Vista are remotely false. I haven't even heard any of the supposed "misleaders" say anything about super-audio CDs. I'm not saying it's a lie, I'm sure someone has, but unless I'm wrong most people don't even care about this relatively obscure and unpopular audio format.

6th April 2007 @ 00:55
Comment from: James Mortensen [Visitor]  
James Mortensen

What Microsoft is doing is preparing for what is known as "consumer lock-in". Right now, the new DRM protection in Vista is not yet implemented. It won't be until more people own licenses and are using Windows Vista. Once enough people are using this operating system and own "protected content media", then Microsoft will implement the new DRM. Afterwards, it may be difficult for comsumers to look for alternatives, as Linux and the Macintosh may be unable to play the content.

But DRM is already a major part of Windows Media Player, and it's another example of lock-in.

I'll use my situation as an example of a lock-in strategy. I bought lots of music files from MSN music and use Windows Media Player. I can't switch to a better media player because the songs I purchased are protected. Therefore, I'm stuck with Windows Media Player, and I'm stuck with Windows. If I switch to Linux, I won't be able to play the content I purchased from MSN.

What I should have done was downloaded music from 360SharePro or This way I could use my content however I wanted. Yes, it's free, but why should I pay money to give up the priveledge of using the content on any device I choose?

I do have a strategy for migrating my music to Linux, however. It will take awhile to do, but it's something I should do now before it's too late. Perhaps it's something I should blog about.

My advice to everyone is to use open source tools that are supported by business entities that don't use lock-in strategies, such as OpenOffice and Linux. Not only are they easier to switch to, but they're just as easy to switch away from.

21st April 2007 @ 23:19
Comment from: [Member]

Microsoft have announced they'll soon start selling music without any DRM on their Zune store.

This is because the publisher, EMI have decided not to. Go talk to the publishers if you want a DRM free world.

22nd April 2007 @ 09:48
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

The typical user is clueless as to what this issue is all about.

If the MPAA and RIAA had any brains at all they would want to keep it that way. Instead they have opted to try to cram DRM down everybodys throat, and in the process they will affect legitimate users who, untill now, had no interest at all in this issue.

What happens when uncle Joe can't play his HD-DVD or his Blue-Ray disk on his expensive Vista PC and he calls his nephew Tony, who is the family Geek, for help?

Tony says "Your $1900.00 monitor doesn't play the DRM protected $49.00 disk you bought because your video input isn't HDCP Vista compliant.".

"There are a few things we could Do.".

1. "You could buy a compliant monitor.".

2. "I could load a copy of linux on a dual boot configuration on your hard drive and we could use a different Media Player that will work. This will also give you a chance to try out Linux. Personally I like it a lot better because than Vista; it's more secure, runs better and allows me a lot more freedom to do what ever I want.".

3. "I can set you up an account that lets you download any movie, software or music you want, up to 20 Gigabytes a month. It's only $4.98 a month, and the first month is free. You could try it, and if you like it, you can keep it. The files don't use any DRM or copy protection schemes. Personally I use it and I can burn the movies to disk and play them on my HDTV or watch them on my PC, share them with my friends and do whatever I want with them, and it works just great. I'd be glad to set you up and show you how.".

Assuming that uncle Joe doesn't opt for option 1, Uncle Joe is either going to (2) start using Linux, at least to play his legally owned and purchased movies, in which case Microsoft risks losing Joe, who never even heard of Linux untill Tony told him about it, or (3) Joe will join the Undernet, without ever knowing he's a Pirate, and the MPAA and RIAA will never sell Joe another damn movie or song for the rest of his life.

Joe will also tell his Golf buddies about this increadible deal and they'll all want to talk to Tony too. Have you ever heard of the value of "Word of mouth" advertising?

Is there really anyone who believes that there isn't a Linux player that can play this crap? Linux is open source, as are the applications. That means the code is available to everyone and anyone. People can build on what already exists. There are tens of millions of people from all over the world who are UNIX/Linux trained contributors. Maybe the application can't be included in the official distros but they surely do exist, and Tony knows where to get them and how to use "apt-get install revolution" to load it.

Every DRM scheme that has ever been used has been busted and it always will be. Right now the implications and impact of this are really quite small. Mostly the people who use these systems and services like to keep a low profile, stay under the radar and not attract a lot of attention. They are not usually very evangelical. If Hollywood and M$ want to create he11 on earth against them they are on exactly the right path to make that happen. All that is needed is to Piss Off Joe, Grandma and aunt Edna. Right now they don't have a dog in this hunt. Vista can change that.

Once the hardware manufacturers new devices which require Vista compliance are fully implemented the devices can't be compatible with any previous releases of Micro$ofts O.S's., or any open source O.S. It has to require "approval" in order to run and only Vista (with Hollywoods consent) can authorize the approval. So that means no backward compatability. It means Vista only. That locks out over 90% of the installed user market base to comply with this S*** ! Users should be aware of this draconian M$ scheme to enslave the world and reject it! If a hardware device requires a check key to be approved which only the Vista O.S. can issue for it to function it is automatically non-compliant with every other O.S. in the world! Is it any wonder driver development has slowed to a crawl? You will be assimilated; Comply or die? We are the BORG! WTF!

Imagine a single company, who answers to no one but it's stockholders, having complete and total control over the entire worlds internet and multi-media communications. Sounds good for them and bad for everybody else doesn't it? If you have this s*** I strongly recomend you remove it and replace it. At least try a Linux dual boot. If you don't have it I strongly recommend you don't get it. If you think this is just a paranoid rant please educate yourself on the issues before casting judgement. It really is time for ordinary people to give a damn.

If this S*** ever becomes fully entrenched freedom will be redefined as Micro$oft Trusted Computing! Vista is not an operating system it is an infection which is being foistered on an unsuspecting public as an improvement.

See this article "Vista security spec 'longest suicide note in history'" here

Spread the Joy Joe! Way to go Micro$oft! Way to go MPAA/RIAA! The WOW starts now!

Albert Einstein "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.".


24th April 2007 @ 19:42
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

Why are you afraid to post my last submission if you are not bought out?

24th April 2007 @ 20:32
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

Paul is a bought out Micro$oft Pussy!

24th April 2007 @ 20:34
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  


You don't have the balls to publish what I said. You are a bought out M$ Whore. do You even have enough cunt to admit it privately?

24th April 2007 @ 20:44
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

Paul Smith is a Scaredy Cat. Afraid to publish any real dissenting opinion or offer his own bought out rebuttal!

Paul is a bought out coward!

24th April 2007 @ 20:56
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

Actually Paul, That's not bad. I didn't think you had the balls to stand up for and salute this s*** but you do!

Maybe you are not totally c*** less! Nevertheless I do not see any rebuttal to the arguments presented and until I do you are still a bought out M$ whore!

BTW I am perfectly OK with people having different opinions. It just really bothers me that people that really ought to know better will defend this s***!

24th April 2007 @ 22:26
Comment from: GaryDaGeek [Visitor]  

This is your blog. Your users should be standing up for your point of view. What is that and where are they?

How many people jumped out and said "I want Micro$soft to control me?

Why don't you do a poll? Anybody can vote, open to all. Would it matter?

Even if everybody votes against M$ they have no voice. M$ owns the next generation of hardware and you lose.

This is not about choice it is about whether you are willing to sell your soul to a corporation.

Vote no while you still can!

24th April 2007 @ 23:03
Comment from: Jarrod [Visitor]  

Someone please tell me that there's still hope for Microsoft... I really don't want to use Apple or Linux, but it seems like Microsoft really screwed up this time.

Also, is it true that after Jan. 31 2008 Microsoft will force people to upgrade from XP to Vista?

2nd May 2007 @ 03:38
Comment from: [Member]

Microsoft have just posted record profits, again. For a company that really screwed up that seems hard to believe. Apple marketshare is flat, and Linux share has recently declined.

Microsoft doesn't force anybody to upgrade. So that's just nonsense, like all this DRM nonsense.

2nd May 2007 @ 12:47
Comment from: toadpole [Visitor]  

GaryDaGeek, dude, you really need to calm down. Just stop your bitchin' and learn to accept other people's opinions for a change. If you can't, then just ignore them. Paul is completely entitled to his own opinion, whether or not he works for Microsoft. His own opinion may be right, and it may be wrong, but its still his own to express. If you can't respect it, ignore it.

20th June 2007 @ 12:56
Comment from: John [Visitor]  

I don't know your exact level of expertise in the field and it may well be more than mine. all I know is when I try to look at my own pictures, own videos, and commercial dvds the pic quality is downgraded under vista. I have no clue as to why it would downgrade still photos that I took myself but it does. I dont know who or why people say it does not. vista does downgrade video. had I known vista was going to be as bas as it is I would have bought an apple.

25th June 2007 @ 13:36
Comment from: [Member]

Sorry John you are mistaken. If you think otherwise provide some evidence to support your claim.

25th June 2007 @ 13:46
Comment from: Anonymous user [Visitor]
Anonymous user

What is funny is that the Windows Media Player DRM goes insane because it doesn't recognize any of my music. Plus most of my music comes from independent labels and is recorded on multineedle VINYL that's easily transferrable to a computer. TAKE THAT MICROSOFT/RIAA/MPAA whoever you are. You don't have a solution to protect that do you?

We here, have our own, pretty liberal, licensing system. It works just fine for our independent labels and we don't need Microsoft's lousy DRM to hold up our profits. We make more than enough, so our business model is clearly working. IMHO, the best protection is RESPECT for the artists that produce the art. DRM only makes fans lose respect for the artists. Whoever is running the works at microsoft/mpaa/riaa should be fired.

26th June 2007 @ 22:17
Comment from: Innadiated [Visitor]  

Windows Vista.. haha, let me tell you about my "experience" with this New Technology operating system. Where to begin... well I've been following it since the alphas.. build 4006 or something around there.

At this time it closely resembled Windows XP and came on a 650MB iso image. Let's also keep in mind that the Windows XP 9in1 release by winbetas or xiso also fits within a 650MB iso image. That's 9 versions of Windows XP.. on a single CD.

So vista carries on, and on, and on... until they hit beta 1, where the once 650MB iso image jumped to a whooping 3.7GB.

This was my first questionable impression of Windows Vista. There is no way they added a full 3.0 GB worth of features considering that 9 version of WinXP fit on a single CD. Don't tell me the new direct3d solitaire is that big. When a Linux distro comes at 4GB, you get 4GB worth of software, multiple desktops, multiple office suites, everything you need to compute daily without installing anything not included with your distro.

Windows vista does not, it doesn't come with office, it doesn't come with mpeg4 codecs, it doesn't come with a developer suite... it comes with what its always come with since windows 3.x .. a crappy O/S and some stupid little apps, but win3.x fit on 5 floppies..

After that I didn't bother to test vista until the final was released, when it was.. i got myself a test copy (technically downloading isn't illegal if they give you 30 days to activate right?). I didn't really give myself time to try and violate their end user agreement, because within 1 day i was sick of the O/S.

I normally don't run my computer as an Administrator, I run it as a power user. Now I know Vista has the new fancy shmancy user access controls, so that you can be an admin without privilages, but wtf is the point of that. I prefer to be a limited user until i require those privilages, at which point i switch users.

Well, i discovered something interesting about vista.. apparently normal users arn't allowed to use the built-in adminsitrator account. Instead the first account created is designated as a so-called psuedo Administrator. Well i'm the only user on my computer, so my user ended up being designated as this so called administrator.

Well i went ahead and removed myself from the administrator group, adding myself as a user and power user. I then logged out expecting to see an Administrator icon allowing me to login as my user or Administrator.. no such luck.

Well i figured it must be all based on run as now, perhaps like ubuntu and how it disallows root logins on any terminal. So i log back in as my user, and attempt to run something as Admin.

It tells me that i need administrator privilages and to insert the administrator password for account [my account]. It also gave no where for me to insert another username (such as Administrator). So i tried entering the Administrator password, no luck.. it wasn't asking for that password, it was asking for my own password.

So i gave it, it then tells me access denied. There is no way that I could find to try and run a program as the real Administrator, and by removing my own admin privilages i had officially locked myself out from all administration functions in Vista.

The only way i could solve the issue was a reinstall, and i can assure you that reinstall didn't include Vista.

What is Vista? It's a shitty point release for an outdated O/S, and transparent windows arn't going to change that.

A quote i read in an article "Windows is a 32bit extension for a 16bit patch, to an 8bit O/S for a 4bit CPU developed by a 2 bit company without 1bit of sense".

27th June 2007 @ 18:34
Comment from: Innadiated [Visitor]  

Oh, I forgot to conclude my point about DRM..

Your O/S is now 3.0GB larger, and all you got is a shiny new solitaire.

27th June 2007 @ 18:40
Comment from: Daniel [Visitor]  

What (if anything) is stopping a 3rd party application being developed for Windows Vista to play content?

Right now I use entirely free software to play back media in Windows XP (VLC) including DVDs.

I mean, if someone writes a player under Linux, more often than not a "port" appears for Windows. Is there anything in Vista that could possible stop this from happening? (interception between disc and app?)

24th September 2007 @ 11:21
Comment from: Adam [Visitor]

"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"

I say BS...

Microsoft OS runs over 90% of computers on the planet and they're one of the largest corporations. They were in position to tell the **AA to piss off and say "sorry, but we won't add bloat to our OS just to satisfy your misguided fears and paranoia". What would **AA do? Switch to Linux? Microsoft had a choice but they saw money in this for them and they know damn well that people won't have a choice, most people will keep running MS OS and keep taking it up theirs... The CE industry did the same. Both saw money in it: people will need to buy new stuff! If MS and CE told **AA to ***off they'd have them by the balls, **AA would be helpless.


6th January 2009 @ 00:44
Comment from: ZD [Visitor]
4 stars

I've had vista for about a month now on a vaio, and it's not going well.

Basically, in the last few days i've had 3 things happen:

1. IP address problem, now resolved
2. Installed iTunes, and copied and converted my songs to that format
3. Installed HP printer.

After these things, I go on to WMP and it won't let me play my own videos, that I filmed on MY digital camera, saying that 'media usage files are missing.' Could any of the 3 actions above have caused this? How can files that have never existed anywhere other than my camera and my 2 laptops need DRM permission? Even if I record new footage on my camera, it won't play the video, only the audio.
Would installing the software that came with my camera (Samsung NV3) help?

Thanks guys.

19th January 2009 @ 18:37

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