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A dystopian future - looking beyond Windows Vista

by Sander Marechal

If the thought of Microsoft Vista's DRM restrictions, restrictive EULA, version confusion and user lock-in has you scared then you definitely do not want to know what the lads from Redmond have in store for the next version. If this patent application, covered by Groklaw here, is anything to go by then the next version of Windows, Vista+1 is really going to give you nightmares.

In simple terms it's a modular OS, much like Linux, whereby every package will have to be bought separately, has been heavily DRM'ed and will be licensed under different licensing terms. And I'm not talking about applications here but about things that people see as core OS functionality, such as basic networking, internet access, running multiple instances of one application, using an USB device (licensed on a per-device basis), etcetera. You'll even have to pay separately just to be able to install third-party applications or to use the new RAM you bought.

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection - updated

In mid-January 2007, Microsoft responded to some of the points in this writeup. Some of the material was new and interesting (for example clarifying just what actually gets revoked when a driver revocation occurs), other parts seem more likely to have come from Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft's PR firm) than Program Manager Dave Marsh.

From: Peter Gutmann.

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.

The Windows Shutdown crapfest

I worked at Microsoft for about 7 years total, from 1994 to 1998, and from 2002 to 2006. The most frustrating year of those seven was the year I spent working on Windows Vista, which was called Longhorn at the time. I spent a full year working on a feature which should've been designed, implemented and tested in a week.

Each team of 8 was separated by 6 layers of management from the leads, giving us 43 total people with a voice in this feature. Twenty-four of them were connected sorta closely to the code, and of those twenty four there were exactly zero with final say in how the feature worked.

By the way "feature" is much too strong a word; a better description would be "menu". Really. By the time I left the team the total code that I'd written for this "feature" was a couple hundred lines, tops.

From: Moblog

Surprises inside Microsoft Vista's EULA

The next version of Windows is just around the corner, so the next time we discuss software licensing in my course, the EULA for Vista will be front and center. You can read the Microsoft Vista EULA yourself by going to the official Find License Terms for Software Licensed from Microsoft page and searching for Vista. I know many of you have never bothered to read the EULA - who really wants to, after all? - but take a few minutes and get yourself a copy and read it. I'll wait.

Back? It's bad, ain't it? Real bad. I mean, previous EULAs weren't anything great - either as reading material or in terms of rights granted to end users - but the Vista EULA is horrendous.

From: The Register.