Tag search

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

And that is just the least scary quote in Peter Gutmann's analysis of Vista DRM. In his analysis he paints the bleak picture of how Microsoft and Big Media are collaborating to cripple our computers by disabling output channels, crippling drivers, increasing hardware costs, decreasing system stability and ultimately revoking hardware.

At the end of all this, the question remains: Why is Microsoft going to this much trouble? [...] The only reason I can imagine why Microsoft would put its programmers, device vendors, third-party developers, and ultimately its customers, through this much pain is because once this copy protection is entrenched, Microsoft will completely own the distribution channel. [...] Not only will they be able to lock out any competitors, but because they will then represent the only available distribution channel they'll be able to dictate terms back to the content providers whose needs they are nominally serving in the same way that Apple has already dictated terms back to the music industry: Play by Apple's rules, or we won't carry your content. The result will be a technologically enforced monopoly that makes their current de-facto Windows monopoly seem like a velvet glove in comparison.

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". [...] As a user, there is simply no escape. Whether you use Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 95, Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris (on x86), or almost any other OS, Windows content protection will make your hardware more expensive, less reliable, more difficult to program for, more difficult to support, more vulnerable to hostile code, and with more compatibility problems.