Opinions

Letter: Vista Valued

Publication YearIssue Date 

Editor, the Gauntlet,

[Re: "Making a blender out of your PC," Chris Tait and Ændrew Rininsland, Feb. 2, 2007.]

This steaming pile of crap marks an astonishing new low in journalistic integrity for the Gauntlet. I don't even know where to begin with it. Neither of the authors have any idea what Windows Vista's DRM technology actually is or does, yet they go so far as to make bold and factually incorrect statements like, "What we're left with is a crippled operating system and a mentality that believes computers should be as simple and closed as devices used to make smoothies." Seriously, are the authors as technologically inept as they sound?

At one point, they claim that "Microsoft could have put its foot down and stopped the negative inroads..." I'd like to hear these pseudo-journalists explain that one. In case they hadn't noticed, Microsoft does not own the HD-DVD or Blu-Ray specifications and Microsoft is not responsible for mandating that HD content from these two sources must be transmitted over a secure channel (HDCP.) If and when Apple decides to support HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, they'll also be required to implement system-level DRM.

To summarize Vista's DRM with actual facts instead of rhetoric, users are required to use an HDCP-compliant display system to play back HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. Guess what? This is the same requirement needed to play HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray discs in full 1080p resolution on your television, with a few minor exceptions. You can still illegally copy DVDs, download illegal movies, download illegal mp3s and all that other jazz to your heart's content (in HD, even). So what happens if you don't have an HDCP display? Well, our pseudo-journalists made the bold implication that you'd get a lousy quality image without digital sound, and that old graphics cards would cease to work. This is completely false. Without an HDCP display, you're limited to 540p output--still significantly higher quality than a standard DVD! All 1080p displays shipping right now are HDCP-compliant anyways--so the fact is, if your gear is too old to support HDCP, it's also too old to support the content's resolution.

Yeah, nice try with that article. Thanks, Gauntlet. Thanks for doing your research, and thanks for doing your readers a disservice.

Grumpy computer nerd

[Editor's note: Please take the flame war online where it belongs, you noob-ish troll. Ændrew and Chris have posted their response to your letter at gauntlet.ucalgary.ca. Have it out there.]

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Comments

While I subscribe to the philosophy of not feeding trolls or Microsoft fanboys, I should probably respond to this.

Quote:
"Microsoft does not own the HD-DVD or Blu-Ray specifications and Microsoft is not responsible..."

I believe the point of the article was missed. Hardwired DRM is an inherently negative thing for the computer industry; I don't think anyone would argue building limitations into hardware is a good thing from a consumer standpoint. By not supporting the HD-DVD or Blu-Ray specs within Vista, Microsoft could have took a stand for consumers and it's likely Sony et al would have backed down on these requirements.

Yet again, I invite you to read the whitepaper entitled "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" by Peter Gutmann, available at http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html. He uses Microsoft's own spec sheets in his argument, something I noticed you neglected to do yourself.

I'm sorry grumpy computer nerd, but perhaps your not as nerdy as you'd like to believe.

Take for instance your statements here:
"At one point, they claim that "Microsoft could have put its foot down and stopped the negative inroads..." I'd like to hear these pseudo-journalists explain that one. In case they hadn't noticed, Microsoft does not own the HD-DVD or Blu-Ray specifications and Microsoft is not responsible for mandating that HD content from these two sources must be transmitted over a secure channel (HDCP.) If and when Apple decides to support HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, they'll also be required to implement system-level DRM." --- No, Microsoft MAY NOT own those markets, however there is absolutly no need for them to implement kernel level DRM for these types of media to work. Many 3rd party HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players work on XP as long as you have compliant hardware.

And here:
"To summarize Vista's DRM with actual facts instead of rhetoric, users are required to use an HDCP-compliant display system to play back HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. Guess what? This is the same requirement needed to play HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray discs in full 1080p resolution on your television, with a few minor exceptions. You can still illegally copy DVDs, download illegal movies, download illegal mp3s and all that other jazz to your heart's content (in HD, even). So what happens if you don't have an HDCP display? Well, our pseudo-journalists made the bold implication that you'd get a lousy quality image without digital sound, and that old graphics cards would cease to work. This is completely false. Without an HDCP display, you're limited to 540p output--still significantly higher quality than a standard DVD! All 1080p displays shipping right now are HDCP-compliant anyways--so the fact is, if your gear is too old to support HDCP, it's also too old to support the content's resolution." --- Perhaps you are not aware of driver revocation, which is also part of their drm scheme, in that if a driver has been reported as being exploitable or somehow allows a "hacker" to access frames stored in memory which haven't been encrypted, Windows will report your driver to Microsoft, and they will "revoke" it's ability to be used on ALL Windows Vista computers until the manufacturer releases an update and clears it with Microsoft. Considering that most older hardware doesn't get driver updates, the writers are correct in saying your hardware may simply not work IE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54ypt_FzRAk

Did you know Windows Vista encrypts every single frame of a "premium content" video but doesn't encrypt things like your S.I.N or phone numbers when stored to page files?

I think you had better go and turn up the dirty facts about your new O/S before defending it like you use it or something.

Every operating system sucks for many things. It's all a matter of degree.