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Microsoft Applies To Patent DRM'ed OS Modules

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the imagine-the-possibilities dept.

Microsoft 134

wellingj writes "Microsoft has applied for a patent that sounds on the face of it like it ought to improve OS stability and reliability: the patent proposes to modularize device drivers much like Linux does. But, going further, Microsoft would apply DRM to these modules — as Groklaw puts it, 'using modularity plus DRM to restrict and contain and enforce.' The net result is that you might have to pay extra for OS hardware support. Things like USB keys, DVD-ROMS, Raid drives, and video cards might not be supported out of the box. LXer indulges in some dystopian speculation."

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134 comments

Go go Microsoft (5, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842186)

I for one would really like for this to happen. At the same time drivers for linux would be painfully(for microsoft) free. And almost for device manufacturers. They wouldn't even need to make drivers for linux, just open source existing drivers and many people would make linux version for free just to have these devices compatible with their beloved system.

Re:Go go Microsoft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842238)

Shouldn't that be a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Developers?

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842272)

Sounds like New Coke to me. Make it so bad that consumer's won't take it, then bring back the original (in this case, free as in beer device drivers) and reap the rewards. Consumers pay for 2 versions.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842596)

Thanks, but no thanks. If I decide to run Vista (I tried the public beta and removed it) I'll just pirate it (the first time I'll be pirating Windows BTW) and set up a spoofed Activation server [slashdot.org] .

Having run Linux with Compiz and Beryl, the Vista beta, and XP with third party shell enhancements, I can tell you that if you need eye candy, Beryl is the best way to go, with XP + shell enhancements (such as Windowblinds from Stardock) being a distant second.

And then there is OS X, which is amazingly pretty, but I HATE how limiting the shell is. If I want to run a UI which is dumbed down for users, I'll choose Gnome over OS X. At least I can be just as annoyed by Gnome without overpaying for hardware.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843372)

"And then there is OS X, which is amazingly pretty, but I HATE how limiting the shell is."

Huh? Care to elaborate what you can do in your sh/ksh/bash/ Linux shell you can't in the OSX bash shell? It must be pretty obscure.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

bicho (144895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844358)

I think he was not talking about that kind of shell or she/he wouldn't have compared it to gnome.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Laur (673497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844516)

I'm pretty sure that the GP was talking about a graphical shell, such as Explorer, not a command line shell.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

MrCoke (445461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842450)

Bzzzz ...

1) Lots of drivers can't be opensourced (IP issues)
2) The device manufacturers will jump into this new market very quickly.

Stop dreaming.

Re:Go go Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17843686)

2) The device manufacturers will jump into this new market very quickly.

Stop dreaming.
Microsoft will charge a fee and demand to root around in your driver to make sure it's up to specs. The big guys wont care about this very much. The small players will.

This will hurt the low end, which is actually a pretty important segment of the market. The small guys add diversity and low-cost parts that quite a few people depend on. It'll also have the effect of delaying new driver releases, and thus new hardware in general. The average consumer wont see this directly, and most of the pros won't either, but it'll bog down the industry in red tape and overall hurt it.

Lets face it, when you DRM drivers, you move us that much closer to everyone using Xbox-equivalent, appliance-style locked down "PCs." How far do we do we have to go before we live in a sterile, big-company-only environment where innovation by small companies is squashed at the very beginning of the process? At that point, admittedly several years in the future, Linux is going to start looking increasingly attractive, if for no other reason than it's superior speed of innovation.

Re:Go go Microsoft (4, Informative)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842508)

While I agree with you on the effects on the Microsoft side of the house, I don't agree with the Hardware Manufacturer side of the house. Simply put: Microsoft making DRMed driver modules does not affect an hardware manufacturers at all in regards to wanting to open-source their drivers.

Ex: ATi and nVidia cannot open source their drivers because of legal issues with patents and trademarks held by [if I remember correctly] SGI and possibly several others, whose technologies allow the drivers to work.

What this will do is increase the cost of driver development in the Windows side, a market the manufacturers can neither drop nor ignore. Likewise, this could also decrease the extra cash flow into the company, and potentially diminish the resources available for the in-house drivers designed for Linux/BSD. So this could potentially hurt Linux/BSD in many ways as well. It just depends on how profitable making those drivers available is.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Laur (673497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844470)

Ex: ATi and nVidia cannot open source their drivers because of legal issues with patents and trademarks held by [if I remember correctly] SGI and possibly several others, whose technologies allow the drivers to work.
Just thought I'd point out that patents don't necessarily prevent open source implementations, this depends entirely on the way the patent is licensed (and the license which ATi & nVidia acquired the patent rights may very well prevent open source implementations). Heck, the whole point of a patent is that you're supposed to tell the whole world exactly how you did it, and how they could duplicate it (once the patent terms expire), this can be compatible with open source licenses. I have no idea how trademarks supposedly affect open-sourcing code. If their drivers contain code copyrighted by others, then this could be a problem, however copyrights are relatively easy to get around by rewriting those specific parts. However, trade secrets are probably the aspect of intellectual property law that most applies here, there are likely clever bits in the drivers which aren't patented, and which the respective companies don't want to disclose.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843248)

It's not THAT much different than the Apple model. Apple only supports their hardware (which is not usually manufactured by Apple). Microsoft can get the same deal. Dell, HP, IBM, etc. will all have drivers in the kernel and that is the hardware they (MS) will support. The drivers will be excellent as you would expect from Apple. That way you will remove a lot of the issues with bad drivers hurting stability of the OS. No more BSODs, etc. At least, in theory. Of course, it sucks hard core for smaller players to enter the market, but since when has business been about small players?

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843406)

You would love to see Microsoft patent "OS module signing", so that Linux kernel developers and module developers would have to pay Microsoft a fee to license the patent? On a technique ("code signing") that has long been in use? That Microsoft could use to lock Linux out of the technique that could secure kernels, so Linux is insecure?

Why would you want Microsoft to be the only OS maker to use code signing to secure its kernel, and screw everyone else?

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843730)

Erm, they would really patent such an obvious idea? I thought they just want to introduce it. Isn't there prior art for this module signing? Weird. I don't want microsoft to patent it, I just want them to use it.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843820)

Er, the title of the story we're discussing is "Microsoft Applies to Patent DRM'ed OS Modules". Are you reading the same page I am?

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844466)

That Microsoft could use to lock Linux out of the technique that could secure kernels, so Linux is insecure?

Code signing as implemented now does not make the system secure, it just locks out third-party driver developers that can't afford the signing process, which is usually quite expensive. If, on the other hand, code signing was optional and in control of the user, code signing could be used to increase security in the kernel, by only allowing kernel modules signed by the user to be loaded into the kernel.

Re:Go go Microsoft (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845032)

Yes, but if Microsoft patents it then Linux can't benefit from it.

In general, patenting security, especially such broadly-effective security as OS security, is very bad for the environment, though it can benefit the patent holder. Imagine if MS had the patent on key and combination locks...

yet less control (1)

brenddie (897982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842208)

Is there anything else left to DRM?

Re:yet less control (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842368)

I've got some leftover pasta in the fridge. They'll never DRM that, because it's open-sauce.

Re:yet less control (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842412)

Is there anything else left to DRM?
Tons of stuff... they are only getting started. Lets see... Pop tarts, pens and pencils, coffee mugs... OHMYGAWD! Thy're going to be going after the coffee next! Nonono!

Re:yet less control (1)

Veetox (931340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842546)

>This package requires you to pull down your pants and grab your ankles to install. Proceed (Y,N)?

Re:yet less control (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842552)

User input devices? i.e. Keyboards, Mice, etc.

DRM leads to DMCA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842220)

DMCA makes it illegal to 'bypass' the access controls required to add functionality. So Microsoft can charge a fee for every piece of hardware that needs to be supported. Okay, maybe nobody could be that greedy and unscrupulous. Then again...

Re:DRM leads to DMCA (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842312)

WHQL signing (or the new equivalent) anyone? Which I believe is mandatory in 64bit Vista?

Re:DRM leads to DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844278)

And do you think the hardware manufacturers are going to support that? Windows needs a computer to run on, and that computer is built out of individual components -- if customers find out they're going to have to pay for a driver for their video card, who do you think they're going to complain to? The hardware manufacturer, even if Microsoft is technically responsible. Less money for them = bad, in case you didn't already realize it, and even with the money that Microsoft has on paper, I doubt they could afford to take on lawsuits from the amount of hardware manufacturers there are out there.

What this will -likely- try to accomplish is to eliminate certain types of software that requires special drivers to function (think of something like Daemon Tools), or to prevent someone from creating a driver that, say, allows you to decrypt and rip HD DVD's (keep in mind, the Vista policy is "treat the user like an inept criminal, you run Vista and the computer belongs to us").

uh oh! (1)

rakslice (90330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844370)

Oh noes! You better keep that theory in check or else we're going to have to listen to a bunch of Apple fanboys whining about how Microsoft is ripping off Apple's ideas again...

Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1, Interesting)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842228)

about this as Microsoft has lost me as a customer going forward. Vista was the last straw for me. I'm sticking with XP and seeing where the OS world takes me next. Either OSX, if it is ever released officially supported for the PC (yeah, I'm not holding my breath) or Linux (probably Ubuntu) once they get their polish on.

My personal wish is that all the contributors of the various Linux distributions would put together a core team and put their combined strengths behind Ubuntu. They could finally slay that ugly DRM dragon in Redmond. A boy can dream, right?

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842350)

Ubuntu needs Debian and vice-versa. [ubuntu.com] However, I agree with you that developers should focus on Ubuntu and Debian. They're very well established, value Free Software, and tend to work better than a lot of other distros do. I don't really see why anyone would want to devote their time elsewhere.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842492)

Apparently *they* see why they want to spend their time elsewhere. I like Debian, too, but the problem/beauty with OSS is exactly that it gets fragmented easily: this provides for both agility/flexibility and unnecessary waste at the same time.
It's kinda like freedom, come to think of it :)
Anyway, I don't think that those guys who work on their pet distros in their basements would make a noticeable difference, if they were to join big projects like Debian or Gentoo.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842708)

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great thing that those developers have the freedom to work on whatever they want. I just think it's unfortunate that the community is so divided rather than everyone choosing to work on the same thing. It would certainly be a worse situation if everyone was forced to work on the same thing, though.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

Cheesy Fool (530943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842458)

If you just want an open-source Windows, there's always ReactOS [reactos.com]

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843918)

I think the point is that when XP becomes to outdated, they're not going to Vista. ReactOS is a novelty operating system. Functionally, it's behind Windows 95. It's fun to play with and see how far they can get, but it's a long way from being an upgrade from XP.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844878)

So its still better than ME right?

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842658)

I wouldn't mind seeing a "core team" for Linux as well. All my problems I've had on Linux can be attributed to the very non-standard nature of the OS, with so many things going in so many different directions, making it often a challange to put the pieces together properly.

It's the reason I use FreeBSD - the BSD teams tend to be a bit more focused on gettinging everything there working together nicely, rather than adding everything they can with reckless abandon. Pro: Things just work (as long as you check the hardware compatability database before buying your hardware). Cons: The latest and greatest isn't always available, and the administrative tools usually don't have quite the eye-candy.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843402)

I agree.

If there were a few distributions of Linux, heavily promoted, with new users in mind there would probably be more adoptions of these OS's. After someone has made the switch and gotten used to Linux, then they could switch to another distro that either more aptly suited their needs or they felt they might like better.

As a new user to Linux (Ubuntu), I know the driver issues were one of the things that kept driving me back to XP.

Re:Well thank goodness I won't have to worry... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845340)

You aren't considering Zeta [wikipedia.org] ? You'd be even less mainstream than OSX PC users, every Apple fan is going to envy you!

Box with credit card reader as dongle (1, Funny)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842244)

A drm-protected blackbox with credit card reader as dongle for software. Like in the old day of the videogame halls, you have to pay for the time you play - or work - with your software. Would make it easy for the companies to sell their software, the xould be freely distributed, shared and downloadet, because the software runs only by paying to start it. Ehm... how much does a worldwiede patent proposal cost?

Re:Box with credit card reader as dongle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842432)

> how much does a worldwiede patent proposal cost?

Lots. But nothing to a large company. First step is to lodge an application in (usually) your own country. That establishes the 'priority date' - ie. the "date of the invention". Then you register the application with the international clearing house in Bern. This is often called an "international patent" but is really nothing of the sort, your application is simply recorded in a list so people in other countries can see it. All that Bern record is the title and some of the abstract. If anyone is interested further they have to approach your country's patent office for a full copy. It's sort of like a red-flag warning, nothing more.

Then to get patent in other countries you have to separately apply (and pay fees) to each in turn, which can take a long time and a lot of money because you have to hire local lawyers. Generally, inventors pick only the major countries they're interested in, ie. the ones with the largest markets.

Some relief from all of this is gained from the Bern Convention (which nearly all countries have signed - the US being a long time hold out until about 10-15 years ago) which means they recognise the 'priority date' from your original filing.

If someone in another country separately files, or is even granted a patent, there that infringes yours you can go to court and have the court hand their patent over to you. Believe it or not, this can actually be cheaper than filing on your own behalf first as the other party will have done all the legal work, and having that country's patent turned over to you is nowhere near as expensive as challenging the validity of the patent itself - it's a simple matter of dates in public records and a court finding that their invention is the same as yours.

BTW - IANAL. I just had some dealings with some IP lawyers a few years ago when they explained this to me. However, if you check your countries patent office web site they'll probably have some information on it you can read

Re:Box with credit card reader as dongle (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842482)

Go to Las Vegas, you will have more chances of getting rich.

Such a system will cost millions to build but hundreds to be cracked. Honest consumers (and in particular corporate IT) will refuse such a system because they either want to own the damn thing or have a predictable cost, dishonest ones will run anything for free while black hats will use it to steal the CC# of anyone stupid enouth to use it.

With such a bad expected outcome, only M$ is big enough to try something like that and survive.

As I've said before... (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842290)

Those who want to run a proprietary OS get to pay for one.

Suppose, for example, that you want to use the latest and greatest video card. You already pay for the drivers - there's a reason why cheap video cards crash the system more often than expensive ones. Now, apparently, you'll need Microsoft's permission to write drivers for your own device. So now you get to pay a little more for hardware and drivers.

Perhaps one of the last compelling reasons to use Windows is hardware support. Every PC device made today comes with Windows drivers, and most can be installed by even non-technical people. Take that away, and there's not much reason for the average user to run Windows - Linux is more stable, and does things like email, websurfing, and document editing just as well, or better than Windows, and at a fraction of the price.

This is great for Linux. I would love to see MS apply DRM to drivers. The first time I can install HW under Linux that doesn't run in Windows, I'll know that it's the beginning of the end for MS.

It's a nice patent. One which would never get implemented by an astute company. Honestly, now that Windows costs more than the machines on which it runs, I'm wondering where they could possibly go with this.

Re:As I've said before... (2, Informative)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842642)

Suppose, for example, that you want to use the latest and greatest video card. You already pay for the drivers - there's a reason why cheap video cards crash the system more often than expensive ones
Maybe that used to be true, but today the trend is towards unified drivers that are the same on every GPU that is supported. So that 3-year-old card that cost you $30 new uses the same drivers as the $700 brand-new, top-of-the-line card for that manufacturer. Why people buy a better graphics card is mostly just to get better performance, but sometimes the better cards have extra features such as dual DVI monitor support, video-in capability, or HDMI support- things that low-end cards usually lack.

Re:As I've said before... (2, Insightful)

lcarstensen (130248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843682)

Let's be honest here - just because you're installing the "unified driver" doesn't mean you're following the same code path under the hood for your new card vs. your 3-year-old card. It's more like a unified installer with common shared objects statically linked in and specific code for each and every GPU and special card feature. New code is added for new cards, old card-specific code is abandoned in-place. There is very little actual unification where it matters for stability - folks doing enterprise graphics support know that new drivers become unstable for old cards every time there is a major feature release. The reason companies buy a Quadro FX for twice the cost vs. a GeForce is so the manufacturer will actually fix the bugs.

Re:As I've said before... (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842984)

How will Nvidia and ATI spending *more* time on making sure the windows driver are stable/compliant free up time to work on the linux drivers?

Microsoft can do this because there is no chance in hell the linux drivers will be released before the windows unless there monopoly is destroyed.

Re:As I've said before... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843718)

Perhaps one of the last compelling reasons to use Windows is hardware support. Every PC device made today comes with Windows drivers, and most can be installed by even non-technical people. Take that away, and there's not much reason for the average user to run Windows - Linux is more stable, and does things like email, websurfing, and document editing just as well, or better than Windows, and at a fraction of the price.

OEM Linux disappeared from Walmart.com because a) sales were poor b) and the price uncompetitive.

There are enormous economies of scale when you build and market for the OS with 95-98% market share and whose only real competitor in the domestic market is the closed hardware and software platform of the Mac.

There is no mass migration to Linux. The PC in the home has become more than e-mail and the web. TouchSmart [engadget.com] The lessons the Geek never learns.

The Windows advantage in drivers is not going away.

Re:As I've said before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844716)

And those who don't run one get to deal with a gap in functionality.

This sounds like a replay of the MCA system (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842318)

This sounds like a replay of IBM's MCA system, where devices were 'signed' and wouldn't work unless the system recognised their 'credentials'. I wonder if this could count as prior art, although the 'software module component' would probably allow it to slide by.

Re:This sounds like a replay of the MCA system (1)

orangeyoda (958347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843514)

Back when IBM was doing this, we stopped buying IBM kit completely. Being locked into the vendor and paying 4x the price of a replacement component than the current market value was the deciding factor. Adding that sort of markup to the average IT budget will force more companies to make the switch to something a little more open.

Or... (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842356)

The net result is that you might have to pay extra for OS hardware support.

Or perhaps your hardware manufacturer will have to satisfy Microsoft for the "right to let users run its hardware".

I don't see much other use for this. I've never heard of a hardware manufacturer charging its customers extra for a Windows driver.

Looks like another tool for a monopoly, and not much else.

Re:Or... (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842472)

HP has been known to charge for XP drivers for certain all-in-one fax/printer/scanner devices.

Re:Or... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845528)

Did they actually charge for the drivers? My recollection is that they charged if you wanted media but that downloads were free -- but maybe you're thinking of different all-in-ones. Mind, since I was on dial-up at the time, and the "drivers" (actually a whole software bundle) would have been something like a six-hour download, the difference was moot.

Re:Or... (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842586)

"That's a nice scanner driver that you have there, wouldn't it be a shame if something happened to it"...

Re:Or... (3, Insightful)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842858)

It's not another tool for a monopoly as they already have that. This is a tool for getting the Holy Grail of sales: constant revenue and the ability to present a very low "teaser" price that virtually NOBODY can call you on (as they have to spend much more to get a workable system.) It also gives them extreme control over your computer, both the hardware and software. This allows for guaranteed ability to always be in the position to sell you something, even sell you things that are free. I'll give a few examples:

1. There could be a module that is required for non-Microsoft applications to use system resources like disk drive access, RAM access, network access, display access, etc. Microsoft would of course make people pay for this and it would automatically add whatever the fee for this is to the cost of whatever non-MS software to the cost of running that software. (Of course, MS software will run for free on your system.) This could be used to price competitors out of the market and MS could hide behind some shady "quality assurance" reason for doing this if they are sued.

2. Microsoft could sell subscription-based modules for HDD access beyond merely running certain programs, and if you do not keep the subscription current, then the module (which contains the drive) gets locked and encrypted.

3. You could be forced to pay for more modules if you change your hardware. Say a $2/month module supports 1GB RAM, but if you want 2GB, than you have to buy another module or your extra RAM is dead in its tracks.

4. Microsoft would be free to change the price of their modules at will and if you don't pay, your computer would be locked up and completely unusable, the data on it inaccessible by any means, even yanking the HDD out and putting it in any other machine.

All of these scenarios are possible with this plan. Will they happen? My guess is it will be like the frog in the pot scenario, where there is a little bit of this at first and then as people accept it, it gets ratcheted up.

Re:Or... (2, Insightful)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844166)

My guess is it will be like the frog in the pot scenario, where there is a little bit of this at first and then as people accept it, it gets ratcheted up.

I'm pretty doubtful Microsoft could pull that off. Microsoft has lots of customers, but I hardly know anybody who likes Windows. Many of them aren't aware of alternatives, but Apple has become a house-hold name with iPods, and lots of people know they also make computers. I can't tell you how many people I know who are planning on a Mac for their next computer. Linux is also becoming a much more viable option for the desktop. I've run into more and more people recently who are in fields completely unrelated to computers, but run Linux (usually Ubuntu or Suse) and like it.

The frog is already pretty uncomfortable. If Microsoft plans to ratchet up the heat, they need to do a better job at silencing the other options, or it will be more of a rats off a sinking ship scenario.

Re:Or... (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844802)

There could be a module that is required for non-Microsoft applications to use system resources like disk drive access, RAM access, network access, display access, etc. Microsoft would of course make people pay for this and it would automatically add whatever the fee for this is to the cost of whatever non-MS software to the cost of running that software. (Of course, MS software will run for free on your system.)

Such an example already exists in the patent application. It mentions an add-in module that would allow third-party applications to be installed. Like "You need to pay extra money if you want to run non-Microsoft applications".

Microsoft would be free to change the price of their modules at will and if you don't pay, your computer would be locked up and completely unusable, the data on it inaccessible by any means, even yanking the HDD out and putting it in any other machine.

Good point! I didn't think of that.

At least obvious? (1)

mavenguy (126559) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842374)

I don't recall using a scheme like this for the OS, pre se, but haven't there been applications that were distributed on a CD which provided basic functionality but had additional functionality code of some sorts ("module"?) on the CD that could be activated after paying a fee to the publisher, who would then send a key to unlock the added functionality? Extrapolating this to a web enabled model doesn't seem to be an unobvious step.

Neither the specification, nor the Information Disclosure Document (That only references two MS co-pending patent applications) seem to even suggest any incremental functionality for pay type schemes. I would think that such prior art functionality unlocking schemes, would be relevant background information in considering the question of obviousness and, at a minimum, ought to have been cited by MS as related prior art in order to satisfy their duty to dislose [uspto.gov] relevant prior art.

I can't find the reference to any of these schemes since I have something else to do now; anyone recall something like this?

Re:At least obvious? (1)

init100 (915886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844884)

I don't recall using a scheme like this for the OS, pre se, but haven't there been applications that were distributed on a CD which provided basic functionality but had additional functionality code of some sorts ("module"?) on the CD that could be activated after paying a fee to the publisher, who would then send a key to unlock the added functionality?

It's called crippleware. You download a demo for free, but the demo contains all the functionality of the full application. If you buy a serial number corresponding to the full version, the demo version suddenly becomes the full version. It is quite common actually. One such well-known program is Nero Burning ROM.

So, lets get this right... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842402)

Someone at MS comes up with an idea for DRM drivers. MS decides to patent it, because their policy is to patent any patentable invention.

As a result, Microsoft is now going to start charging everyone who ever uses Windows for the right to use drivers, or something. Come off it. There's no indication they're even going to use this, and they're certainly not going to make it mandatory. They could lock out driver developers in all sorts of ways without relying on DRM if they wanted to. They prefer to have a wide selection of competitively priced hardware because they need hardware sales to sell their software.

Re:So, lets get this right... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842558)

Patents are privileges to _prevent_ someone else making something, not permission to start making something.* Microsoft holding this patent also means that they can _stop_ other companies (e.g. sony...) from locking down their hardware - i.e. Microsoft could even use this patent for arguable "good", stopping any "decommodified" computing platform (because microsoft _like_ the commoditised PC platform, they just dislike when commodification happens in software (i.e. open source))

* e.g. Sky [Fox] has a UK patent on advertisement skipping in TVs. They can stop anyone else who wants to make things that skip adverts. As they are in the business of selling advertising slots on their TV channels, they can therefore make sure adverts they want to be seen are seen, because they can stop anyone making or selling unauthorised fully-functional advert skipping black boxes (or third-party advert skipping Tivo-like devices). Is this a blatant abuse of the patent system? Yes, if you're naive enough to believe patents are about rewarding innovation (but europe, with a longer memory than the USA, generally barely even pretends patents are about anything other than preventing real free market capitalism).

Re:So, lets get this right... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842648)

Yeah. So are you suggesting that MS have the intention of preventing their competitors from doing what would appear to be anti-consumer behaviour.

Well, okay. I see how there's an issue of priciple here, but I really can't get all that riled up about MS preventing its essentially non-existent competitors from doing something they don't have any interest in doing, and would hurt me if they did.

Re:So, lets get this right... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842850)

So are you suggesting that MS have the intention of preventing their competitors from doing what would appear to be anti-consumer behaviour.

No, I'm saying they could if they wanted to. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for microsoft to do anything particularly pro-consumer...

Actually, microsoft, unlike most companies, are convicted monopolists. Why the _hell_ keep handing them copyright and patent monopolies on a silver plate? Financial penalties are relatively meaningless - the _first_ penalty for a monopoly should have been stripping them of their state-granted monopolies...

Re:So, lets get this right... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842974)

Oh right. I think I see what you're saying. Because this patent might or might not be used, you disapprove of patents in general, so Microsoft should have all its patents taken away for a completely unrelated reason.

Re:So, lets get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17847486)

Again, you infer that the poster was positing a logical relationship, where he was merely aggregating unrelated points (your "because"). The _poster_ made no such connection, you're simply putting words in his mouth. You're trolling. Stop it.

One more step... (5, Insightful)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842414)

I'm going out on a limb here, but I suspect this is much less about charging money for drivers (though it could be an additional step to charge money for OS add-ons). I think this is supposed to be an anti-piracy step. In this way, not only does a person have to crack the serial number for the OS, the license activation, and the WGA piracy detection...now they are also forcing you to crack the DRM mechanism preventing you from installing drivers for your hardware.

I have to give them credit. The serial number, license activation, and WGA software were all really obvious and easily broken protection methods...but this one would possibly be pretty tough.

I think another comment was on the right path, suggesting that this will drive a lot of people off of windows and onto linux. All MS is doing is cutting down on the number of pirates using windows. Less users means less people pirating and using other software on windows. Less pirates using the software also means more people who are telling all of their friends about a different (and legal) way to have free software. Obviously, as more people switch away, it's that many more people that will also encourage their friends to switch. If microsoft ever uses this technology on actual drivers and not just special case software, it'll likely drive people away at a pretty alarming rate.

Re:One more step... (1)

CheckeredFlag (950001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843968)

...I suspect this is much less about charging money for drivers (though it could be an additional step to charge money for OS add-ons). I think this is supposed to be an anti-piracy step.
Agreed. I wonder if the intent is to prevent someone from installing a hacked video card driver that would write a copyrighted hd video stream to disk, thereby enabling easy copying of hd dvds.

Xbox 360... (1)

Trendy.Ideology (1058410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842430)

They do this kind of stuff on the Xbox360 already, with nickle and dime'ing you to death to get extra content for games. Mostly content that other platforms get for free, Xbox360 players sometimes have to pay for. Notably from EA.

While not the same issue, the similarities, and the fact that 360 is Microsoft's console, and the marketplace encourages this type of behavior, almost seems like M$ went "Hey, if this works with our console, why not with our OS?".

Only works if people are willing to pay (0)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842460)

This strategy (modular OS, pay for extra features) only works if the MS modules are judged to be worth paying for. If you're not locked in to MS (for example, if a Linux OS is a viable alternative for you), why would you pay for it?

Keep it up, Microsoft, you're only driving Joe User into the feathered embrace of the Penguin.

What about Apple products running on Intel? (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842562)

Will this work now? Given that Apple is running pretty much "standard" PC hardware now, any manufacturer who wants to also sell to an Apple audience will need to create drivers that work on a Unix-like system. As long as Apple don't sign up to the same (or any) DRM-for-drivers type system, then it will still at the very least, be possible to reverse engineer these. Surely?

Good idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842572)

It will end the same way like that one-click-url-like file links disaster they had in Windows98.

It will disappear.

Everyone who's interested in professional limitation of damage should follow the future Microsoft statements on this feature before it vanishes with the next SP or Windows release.

DRMing OS modules (4, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842666)

Microsoft's logic :
- customers who switch to Linux say they want, among other, modularity, freedom to tinker and configure their machine at will and possibility to strip out everything unneeded.
- other detractors of Microsoft's products and more specifically of Vista point out the confusingly high number of variants (1 for developing markets, 2 variants for homes, 2 variants for business, 1 additional "has everything inside" version, then add again the additional variant for European markets... )
- a lot of criticism was drawn, mostly from makers of competing products like anti-virus, browsers and media players, but also advocates for open-source alternative, that Microsoft forces it's own solution and doesn't leave enough room for alternatives.

Their conclusion :
- Just make 1 single version, the Starter one, and let everyone upgrade by buying additional functionality modules. (Witch will be even easier given the fact that they hope that Next-Gen windows will be ture-microkernel+servers and capatbility based). They'll stop complaining and will get everything they need true modules.

Their hope :
- Earn even more cash because of selling more modules.
- Try earning cash by selling license to competitors making alternative components.

The future truth :
- Most certain result : DRM will be cracked by virus/spyware/botnet makers and most malware will run as protected services... ...if they haven't already moved to the hypervisor layer by then.
- Most consumer pissed of because "Opening more than 3 windows", "Extending multi-CPU support from 4 cores to 8,16 or 32", etc... will be paying components regardless of technical justifications and artificial limitations.
- Either anti-trust suits by McAffee, Real et alii or clean-room reverse-engeneering by Samba et alii. will crack open the DRM infrastructure and Microsoft won't be able to restrict/make pay for 3rd party components.
- Most governments, corporation handling secret information, medical informatics staff, etc... complaining because the EULA states microsoft may at any time revoke the rights of any component and make it useless (HD-DVD devicekey-style) even if it is a critical one.
- Consumers pissed off because they have to re-buy again some components after just upgrading the RAM.
- Consumers pissed off by long chains of dependencies, requiring a lot of expensive upgrades from DirectX 12Pro to Hispeed BUS drivers Ultimate, just to be able to make backups of their data on a HD-DVD.

Results on consumers :
- more widespread adoption of alternative operating systems (Linux, *BSD, OpenSolaris, Darwin...) Specially in EU governments.
AND/OR
- People get only the most basic striped-done Windows version. And then use open-source and other free(beer) software to provide most of the additional components. To the point that a Debian GNU/BlackComb distros seems almost possible.

Side effect :
- Replacing the small striped-down central component of "Windows Starter edition" will be much more easier for Wine and ReactOS projects than their current goal of having to rewrite the whole system.

The only positive point :
- Cheaper starter addition (if open-source component are allowed/manage to provide the additional functionality)
- Less virus using bug exploits due to higher heterogeneity of the various components. But as said before, by then the virus will be either other system components (complete with faked license) or even a whole level above inside some hypervisor or VM wraping.

And all that's based on the assumption that Microsoft *will* be able to release a componentised successor. See what happened to WinFS and similar to guess what are the odds...

Guys, seriously. DRMed (2, Funny)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842678)

DRMed. What is it with slashdot and misplaced apostrophes anyway? They're turning up all over the place. They must be fleeing the Quebec language laws.

for next gen media center/xbox 360 more likely (1)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842730)

Er so you do know that all the versions of Vista ship on exactly the same dvd. The only difference is the license key. And you can upgrade anytime. Presumably they use some form of DRM to lock your Vista Home Basic from accessing the Ultimate edition features and will unlock it when you pony up the upgrade fee. Thats probably what this patent is trying to cover. A lot of it sounds like a patent covering next gen xbox 360/media center combos, in which case yeah the non-certified application install, and the module to add more memory make very good sense (fair is another story).

This entire thing is a bit for FUD and PJ ranting. I agree if MS implemented a lot of what they were talking about it'd be bad - so bad that they'd not get away with it. We're used to how OSes work by now - it'd be impossible to turn them into a subscription service. A lot of PJs piece is yelling about losing the right to tinker with your OS. Well you've a right to tinker - you just won't get very far. This is MS we are talking about - they never claimed to be open source. Might as well complain that a leopard has spots.

Now there is the worry that changes like this in software herald the general purpose PC is dying and all you get are specialized devices ala xbox 360 but I don't think this will happen. The PC is too useful and too many people use it already and know what benefits a programmable machine has. You'd have to get every electronics maker to stop producing it and get any person or CS department to not work on open source projects. Its not going to happen. There is a crowd of people who prefer specialized devices to PCs - they happily sacrifice the freedom to tinker anyway and the phrase "user" is apt for them. Most people shouldn't care about how a computer or an operating system or program works - they just want to do stuff with them. The "I don't want to to do anything - it should just work" crowd. I'd argue they've already bought into modular OS upgrades and are a lost cause.

FUD (1)

JoeKilner (930306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842750)

This is just Microsoft making sure that you can't run unsigned drivers. It will lock out (if they can do it properly) root kits and crappy device drivers. As someone who has worked with "expert" windows driver developers in the past, this is a good thing (e.g. people who have allegedly produced drivers for big companies cutting and pasting sample driver code in to production code despite the fact that the sample code explicitly details a load of cases it doesn't handle properly...).

I would have thought there is more of a question here as to whether this is a patentable idea, rather than it being of significance itself.

Re:FUD (1)

JoeKilner (930306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842820)

Ignore that - got the wrong end of the stick. It is crap. Ah well, there was a reason I switched from XP to Ubunt.

Re:FUD (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843486)

As someone who has worked with "expert" windows driver developers in the past, this is a good thing...

Of course they said the same thing about TNT, it was a good thing, enabled them to build railroads and highways and what have you. Of course, then somebody got the bright idea of using that good thing to build artillery shells turning it into not such a good thing.

DRMed drivers are neither good nor bad. It's how the technology is going to be used that will dictate that. Patenting the idea of having a DRMed drive does not bode well as an indicator as to how the technology will ultimately be used.

Only time will tell whether Microsoft's intent is to a) add a level of security, b) lock out competition, c) provide new revenue streams or d) some combination of all of the above.

"Much like Linux"?? (4, Insightful)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842758)

I hate to say it, but the Linux device driver model is inferior to Windows. Many device drivers directly access things in task_struct. Of course fields often change between Linux kernel releases. You ever wonder why nVidia drivers are so problematic across different kernel releases? Yes, this is no problem if every device driver is open-source and recompiled with each kernel release. Sorry, but the entire world does not accept open-source, including nVidia.

Windows isn't perfect, but the Windows 2000/XP/Vista device driver model is fairly good. For the most part, nVidia device drivers released in 6 years ago will still work with the latest "service pack" of Windows XP.

Furthermore, Microsoft has worked hard on static model checking of device driver code. Anything that gets Microsoft-certified (or whatever) has passed the static model checker.

Re:"Much like Linux"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17843226)

So drivers released six years ago work on an operating system released six years ago? Amazing!

Re:"Much like Linux"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17843658)

Sorry, but the entire world does not accept open-source,

Er... not to be a jerk, but those people who don't accept open-source shouldn't use an open-source kernel. Or at least they should not complain when their binary add-ons don't keep working as the open-source kernel evolves.

Yes, the kernel devs could go out of their way to support binary kernel modules. But why should they? If you're using an open-source kernel, it's because you think there is some tangible benefit versus a proprietary one. So you shouldn't be surprised when your open-source kernel (which you chose to install) works best with open-source modules and doesn't work so well with proprietary hacks.

I wouldn't say that this makes the Linux device driver model 'inferior.'

Re:"Much like Linux"?? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844162)

Yes, the kernel devs could go out of their way to support binary kernel modules. But why should they? If you're using an open-source kernel, it's because you think there is some tangible benefit versus a proprietary one.

The problem here is that this tends to limit the Linux user base to those who know what a kernel is and give a damn about open source. Most users don't and never will.

Re:"Much like Linux"?? (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845058)

I don't really see this as a problem. If there are no dumb Linux users, then a lovely intellectual elitist community forms where we sit around all day writing witty and interesting articles about the latest Vista [slashdot.org] exploits [slashdot.org] and flaming Microsoft trolls. I rather enjoy the prospect, actually.

Re:"Much like Linux"?? (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844258)

It doesn't matter if your driver is a binary blob or not. Even the open source drivers have to be changed as internal kernel structures are modified. There's even a slight problem that if you want to support more than the most recent kernel versions in your open source driver, you might be forced to write multiple code paths to support the few differing structures that happened to change. It's not a big of a problem as I make it sound, but it's still an issue when you don't have a standardized interface to work with.

Claim 5 is the scariest (1)

r3m0t (626466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842804)

"5. The operating system of claim 1, wherein the at least one add-on module enables installation of a non-certified application program."

Either:

1) You pay more for software because all your software has to be certified by Microsoft, or

2) You let Microsoft take away your right and sell it back to you - i.e. you pay for this add-on module, or

3) You crack it and live in fear of Microsoft pulling the trigger

Let's stop being Political Correct... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842834)

And call a spade a spade.

Vista is not an OS, it is a Extortion tool for little whiney spoiled rich brats (content and computer industry) that want to force other people what they can do and what they cannot without taking any notice what the law grants what people can do.

I think Vista should be declared forbidden because it undermines the current legal system.

Re:Let's stop being Political Correct... (1)

Trendy.Ideology (1058410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842916)

Aren't they trying to pawn it off as an OS for gamers, too?

Who the bloody hell wants an OS that sucks up so much of your system resources?

An OS for gamers would be an OS that provides the bare minimum support to keep a computer running, and run your game, and would allow you to easilly terminate anything/everything not related to the task you're currently running.

Worse, my company recieved a memo today that we all might be upgrading to Vista soon. I almost cried... They say it's because clients will soon be using it, and we all need to be familiar with it, for IT support purposes.

Re:Let's stop being Political Correct... (1)

ToriaUru (750485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842986)

Yah, calling a spade a spade is a good thing. More people that step up and say this: maybe the news organizations will stop showing fan boys and Microsoft paid employees to hawk their crap. Let's get some "fair, balanced" reports out there. Yah, there are some.. but they are few and far between.

Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17842912)

Sounds like this is how they plan to deploy 50 different versions of Windows. Somehow I doubt they'll intentionally destroy their own business, so the dystopia is very unlikely. Much more likely is that in cheaper windows versions, stuff like >2cpu support, >4gb ram, hd-dvd burning, and other premium features will be left out. This is just a way to make sure people can't just copy a few dll's to fully enable their reduced windows.

Unplug the alarm, it's no big deal, and it's already in Vista.

Somewhat Orwellian? (2, Interesting)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842934)

Years and years ago, people would have vomited IN TERROR at the thought of paying so much for firstly the hardware, then the OS, and then applications, then the internet connection, and then the electricity, and then having ads on the screen that they've paid for, and then paying more for content/plugins for the applications, and then paying more when the system breaks down from all the bloat to have it upgraded. Oh, and this cycle repeats itself every 2 to 8 years. This octuple-dipping nonsense smacks of 1984 - people are slowly being more and more screwed over whilst not doing anything about it; and attempts to do are looking nigh impossible. Microsoft wanting to be cut in on the hardware installation process makes sense (at least from an incredibly evil standpoint) - users have demonstrated for years that they're willing to put up with spending thousands of dollars to make their computers work. Having said that, it's a little stupid of Microsoft to do this on the launch of this particular OS - there haven't been any features (that I've heard) that makes this a must-upgrade-to OS in comparison to XP (Microsoft seem to be entirely using their momentum as a monopoly for this one); especially since they've released a 64 bit version of XP, which XP-packrats will jump to when applications start to switch to 64 bit and 32 bit CPUs fall fully into obscelence.

What would be nice is if Microsoft's OS department was in the same boat as Microsoft's XBOX department - since there's fierce competition between PS3 (Mac?) and Wii (*nix?) we haven't seen a single "let's screw with the consumer" initiative by any of the three.

Re:Somewhat Orwellian? (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843716)

Years and years ago, people would have vomited IN TERROR at the thought of paying so much for firstly the hardware, then the OS, and then applications, then the internet connection, and then the electricity, and then having ads on the screen that they've paid for, and then paying more for content/plugins for the applications, and then paying more when the system breaks down from all the bloat to have it upgraded.

Several of those items are FAR less expensive today then they were years and years ago. :-)

I remember when a mainstream desktop PC with monitor was $4,000-5000, when there were no free OS alternatives at all, when single programs like WordPerfect 5.0 were almost $500, and when a 9600bps connection to CompuServe was $16/hour, and that was only 15 years ago.

What would be nice is if Microsoft's OS department was in the same boat as Microsoft's XBOX department - since there's fierce competition between PS3 (Mac?) and Wii (*nix?) we haven't seen a single "let's screw with the consumer" initiative by any of the three.

Yes, it would, but that would require Microsoft's OS department to have some serious competition in the desktop space, and that's not likely to happen (outside of free alternatives like Linux, *BSD, Solaris, etc.) unless the US DOJ actually enforces US anti-trust laws in a Microsoft context.

Re:Somewhat Orwellian? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17846728)

And thank you for playing you are the loser of the day. Orwell hates you.

They're on a Roll! (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17842960)

Hah! Microsoft is "innovating" again. They applied for a patent to strip down their kernel and make it light, then to build support for extra hardware in the form of loadable kernel modules. (Putting all the arguments about monolithic vs. modular vs mach kernels aside) This would improve performance and efficiency. But they add an extra wrinkle: The modules will use Digital Rights Management which would allow for a model to charge money for access to drivers.

I suppose they are really innovating this time in that they took two existing concepts (kernel modules and DRM) and put them together for a new purpose (although not a technical one, but a business purpose). So maybe the quotes weren't warranted in the last paragraph. The real question is... will Windows users eventually really have to pay for drivers? Much like the CPU ID problems when the Pentium IV first came out, people were worried about being tracked via CPU ID. So the manufacturers backpedaled. At least for now.

My personal suspicion is that when these sorts of measures are implemented and a company responds to public outcry by saying, "OK, we won't use it", that what they really mean is "OK, we won't use it... for now". They will wait to quietly enable the functionality THEY want on YOUR computer when they've got you locked into some associated feature. Take DRM on the iPod for example. Let's say it's 1984 and CDs are just beginning to pick up steam with the buying public. But let's say that the RIAA was even more brazen back then than they actually were and they said the following:

"We thank you for your continued support of the recording industry and your understanding of the need to move from cassettes and their more out of date relative, the vinyl record. However, it has come to our attention that the quality of the digital audio discs that our members have been selling is enabling mass piracy by copying to chromium oxide and metal film audio cassettes. Although the cassettes do not provide the pure listening enjoyment of a genuine RIAA member digital audio disc, they do impact sales. One measure we've taken is the formal request to the blank audio cassette manufactures and the government to intervene by adding a small surcharge to the purchase of cassettes to compensate for the revenues lost to piracy. However, another measure we would like to take is the creation of an End User License Agreement. This agreement stipulates that you (the consumer) agree that you will not use any methods of copying your digital audio disc. It also stipulates that you agree to play said disc on no more than five digital audio disc reproduction mechanisms whether CD players or any possible future method of reproduction. Once you have played the disc on a fifth unit, you agree to purchase a new disc with the associated license to allow you playback on five more systems".

I don't think most consumers would have gone along with that back then. But, using today's DRM technology, Apple has managed to convince users that these limitations with iTunes and the iPod are OK because the benefits outweigh the negative aspects of the system. The music is cheaper. You get a more complete experience if you are using Apple products all the way through the chain. You have the instant gratification factor that you don't get by buying CDs on Amazon. And sure, you have the less-than-optimal option of burning your tracks to a CD, then ripping them into the format of your choosing. But in reality, iPod users have agreed to something they are cornered into agreeing to. So why do they do this? It's all in the approach. If MS tried to do this first, they would have gone a little overboard with the restrictions and just because they are MS, many consumers would have revolted. But the key here is that the best way to get people to agree to artificial and fairly negative restrictions, is to tie them in some benefits that would be enough to hook the user.

I can see that manufacturers would have a new area of revenue if they had a way to charge for drivers. What I picture is a situation in the future where all hardware devices have a modular driver. It contains DRM which is used to lock the features that users would want, but provide enough unlocked basic functionality that people would be on the fence about buying the full access driver. Pretty cunning approach I'd say... All the more reason to dump Windows and go to a less restrictive OS.

more DRM stories,,,,,zzzzzzzzz (1)

brisey (1003269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843018)

wow, slashdot nearly went 10 minutes without whining about DRM there....

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17843142)

1. Apply for license to write network stack driver.
2. Open source your stack driver
3. Community uses driver to probe arbitrary hardware; all software accesses hardware by send/recv UDP or something.
4. ???
5. Profit!

Of course, then there's the inevitable folly of MS trying to write rules governing what you can and can't send down through the stack. I would think even the most braindead patent attorney would know better than to try that; but I've been wrong before.

Not sure but.. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843380)

Weren't there plans to have the Linux kernel driver interface somehow unified with Windows' ? If so, and this interface was relied upon (some graphics cards come to mind), then this could be bad for the future of Linux. I know, Linus doesn't like it, but he's not the only one who has something to say about it.

One patent that should not be contested (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843802)

They can have it. Honestly, I'd love to see them pull off something like this.

I have so many people ask me for help with their older machines - both for support and OS installation. And most of the time it's a copy of Windows that they got from someone. (Granted, the machine probably originally sold with Windows, so it's morally gray if still illegal). And I always remind them of the legal status of their actions, and that there are legit alternatives. And nobody wants to hear it.

Just once I'd like to be able to tell them that no - there is no way to install that copy. YOU HAVE TO PAY THE $250 FOR IT! Either they'll be interested in trying Linux, or I'll be taking home a free used computer that they just pitched. I win either way.

Its funny (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17843992)

Microsoft to add modular drivers to windows.
Its funny how every day microsoft are stealing more and more old ideas from Gnu/Linux and Unix in general, and claiming they are innovating.
I hope they'll get rid of the registry next.

good (1)

It's a thing (968713) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844412)

If this goes through, we won't have to wory about anyone else making DRMed drivers.

Like a Rock. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844418)

Imagine a computer with all the restrictions turned on. The user gets a single unmovable 640x480 window and 300 Baud of bandwith from any device. It would run forever if it were not for the DRM trip bits and checks that require 4GB of RAM and a quad core processor to make the magic happen.

Vista is going to sink M$ for good.

and that, my friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844440)

is why I will never willingly install vista, and will urge others to boycott it. microsoft is setting themselves up to be a HUGE target. as fanatical as some people are about their ideals and cultures, I envision the internet becoming a battleground, where a jihad against monopolistic software and media giants will be waged by those who will unite and stand up to them. Who will be the first geek martyr?

A Five Minute Guide to Opposing DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844454)

It's to stop Wine and virtualization. (1)

thedarb (181754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845890)

I'm guessing here, but I think this is more to prevent projects like Wine from being able to use Windows DLL's. I suspect it could also be used to further deny people the ability to run Windows in VMWare and other virtualization technologies without a high end expensive license.

If a DLL is drm'd, Wine won't be able to use it. It also means developers for things like VMWare can't decompile DLL's to see what makes them tick, so they can't make their virtualization better, and possibly make virtualization of certain hardware impossible or impossible to bypass, like TPM hardware.

So I believe it's to keep Windows, and it's applications off of Linux, Mac, and any future competitor.

Combination to patent? (1)

stefaanh (189270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846180)

As far as i know, the idea of combining two technologies to create a new one, is not patentable. Like a bed on wheels, whoopy!
When is this nonsense is going to make everyone realize that this sucks resources out of this nation, like a leech sucks blood.
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