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Blogger Objects To Accusations Surrounding Vista DRM

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the two-sides-to-that-coin dept.

244

Technical Writing Geek writes "Self-described 'professional paranoid' Peter Gutmann of the University of Auckland has become the most widely quoted source of information on DRM and content protection in Windows Vista. The trouble is, according to ZDNet Blogger Ed Bott, Gutmann's work is riddled with factual errors, distortions, contradictions, and outright untruths. From the lengthy piece: 'As Gutmann would know if he actually understood how HD hardware works, Vista will indeed display HD content on this monitor over the D-Sub and component video outputs, which are capable of outputting 1080p and 1080i signals, respectively. In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices, but that decision would apply only to a specific piece of media, and it would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it.'"

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In reality... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649557)

Watching a protected video will just cause your network utilisation to drop below 0.3%.

Obligatory ShieldW0lf post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649703)

I don't agree. It may be more than 0.3%.

I would like to hear some input from the Slashdot scientists. Ideas?

--ShieldW0lf [slashdot.org]

Mod parent up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650307)

This one made me laugh...

Whole article, not 5 pages (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650073)

What an annoying article: spread over 5 pages, each of which takes my browser 10s of seconds each to render, and a link to a print version that doesn't work if you have no printer! I usually surf without JS, and even after allowing some JS I still couldn't get to the all-on-one page version. So here's the full article (I've not read it, but it looks like just pro-MS propaganda, and the usual falacy with n00bs that computers are fast these days so it doesn't matter you're running bloat):

Everything you've read about Vista DRM is wrong (Part 1)

Last month, I wrote about the FUD surrounding Windows Vista and DRM. The FUDmaster is Peter Gutmann, a New Zealand researcher who wrote a paper last December that made a series of outrageous and inflammatory claims about Windows Vista. Since then, Gutmann has expanded the paper to more than four times its original size. The current version available on Gutmann's website clocks in at more than 26,000 words, making it longer than some recent works of fiction.

And length isn't the only thing Gutmann's paper has in common with the average pulp novel. Gutmann's work is riddled with factual errors, mistaken assumptions and unproven assertions, distortions, contradictions, misquotes, and outright untruths. In short, it's a work of fiction all on its own.

Gutmann is a clever writer, and he's able to string together nouns, verbs, technical terms,and acronyms in ways that sound persuasive. In this three-part series (look for Parts 2 and 3 later this week), I'm going to dig deep into Gutmann's work and show you just where he got it wrong.

I've been working on this story for months. Part of the problem is that Gutmann's paper is a rambling, sloppy, disorganized mess, and nine months of additions have made it even more difficult to pick out the serious arguments from the scare stories and snark. Gutmann's favorite technique is to string together anecdotes he's plucked from magazines and websites, juxtapose those stories with sentences from presentations by Microsoft engineers and developers, and then speculate on the implications, often with wildly incorrect results. And worst of all, Gutmann appears to believe everything he reads--as long as he can fit it into his anti-Microsoft world view.

The other part of the problem is Gutmann's lack of hands-on experience with modern consumer electronics gear and with Windows Vista itself, which shows in nearly every sentence he writes. I've done extensive hands-on testing and have personally seen Vista do things that Gutmann says are impossible. Rather than write 26,000 words of my own, I'm going to pick out more than a dozen substantive errors in Gutmann's piece and explain why they're wrong.

With that introduction out of the way, let's get started.

ERROR #1: ARE SAMSUNG'S HD MONITORS WINDOWS VISTA-COMPATIBLE? YES.

In his role as self-appointed consumer advocate, Gutmann seems determined to tell you and me about products we shouldn't buy. Like Samsung's big LCD monitors:

        One of the big news items at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2007), the world's premier event for consumer high-tech, was Samsung's 1920×1200 HD-capable 27 LCD monitor, the Syncmaster 275T [...] The only problem with this amazing HD monitor is that Vista won't display HD content on it because it doesn't consider any of its many input connectors (DVI-D, 15-pin D-Sub, S-Video, and component video, but no HDMI with HDCP) secure enough. So you can do almost anything with this HD monitor except view HD content on it. [emphasis added]

Wrong! Because Gutmann has no hands-on experience with this technology, he doesn't realize that DVI-D is indeed a fully compatible HDCP output. You can use a DVI-to-HDMI cable or a simple DVI-to-HDMI adapter. This monitor meets all the Windows Vista logo requirements for full playback of all high-definition digital media, protected and unprotected. Here's the information on this exact monitor, taken directly from Samsung's Australia site, right in PG's backyard:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/images/samsung_275t_hdcp_support.jpg [zdnet.com]

In addition, as Gutmann would know if he actually understood how HD hardware works, Vista will indeed display HD content on this monitor over the D-Sub and component video outputs, which are capable of outputting 1080p and 1080i signals, respectively. In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices, but that decision would apply only to a specific piece of media, and it would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it.

Gutmann has more snark for another Samsung product:

        If you have even more money to burn, you can go for the largest (conventional) computer monitor made, the Samsung's stupidly large (for a computer monitor) 46 SyncMaster 460PN. Again though, Vista won't display HD content on it, turning your $4,000 purchase into a still-image picture frame... [emphasis added]

The link he provides is dead, but through the magic of Google I found the 460PN specs at Samsung's Australian website. Hmmm. Wonder what's in the downloadable brochure? Ah. It says this monitor is:

        "...suitable in any area where information needs to be delivered quickly and efficiently. For example, airports, hotels, shopping malls, executive offices, corporate lobbies, network control rooms, video conferencing..."

It even includes a picture of a suggested application:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/images/samsung_460pn_in_operation_2.jpg [zdnet.com]

So, this is "stupidly large (for a computer monitor)"? Not if you're planning to install it in an airport or an office lobby, which is its intended use. In fact, when you dig into the specs you see that the biggest selling point of this monitor is its compatibility with large networks (such as those used in airports), where it's necessary to display up-to-date information on many screens that can be seen from a distance by crowds. And yes, Windows Vista will display HD content on it.

ERROR #2: THE MYTH OF MICROSOFT CODE SIGNING

One of Gutmann's more inflammatory assertions is that Microsoft has assumed complete control over all drivers used in 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, and they can use this power to crush companies that don't play ball with them. Here's how he puts it: ...64-bit versions of Vista (which will be displacing the 32-bit versions within the next few years as everyone moves to 64-bit platforms) will only load drivers signed by Microsoft [...] This means that no drivers that potentially threaten premium content can be loaded. A downside of this is that an enormous mass of third-party drivers that haven't passed through Microsoft's approval process can't be used under 64-bit Vista, and because of the time and money involved in the approval process may never end up running under Vista.

That sounds awful, doesn't it? If you own a hardware company you are completely at Microsoft's mercy, and if they decide not to approve your drivers, or just delay their approval, you'll starve to death.

Too bad Gutmann is completely wrong. He is confusing digital signatures with the Windows Logo process administered by Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). Yes, if you want to attach the Microsoft logo to your product and its drivers, and have the option of delivering those drivers via Windows Update, then you have to send your code to WHQL and have it tested and approved. [Update: As a commenter points out below, Microsoft doesn't actually perform the tests. The device maker/driver developer does that task and sends the results to Microsoft for approval under the logo program. Correction noted.] But if you just want your driver to load under Windows Vista x64, you can take care of business in a matter of seconds, by using your own certificate to digitally sign it, a process called Kernel Mode Code Signing (KMCS). You can do so without ever talking to anyone at Microsoft, and you can distribute your driver anyway you want, again, with no Microsoft approval required. Anyone can get a software publishing certificate from the independent certification companies listed here, none of which is owned or controlled by Microsoft. I found a suitable certificate for $229.

In fact, Gutmann is either being lazy or disingenuous, because the facts are in the same document he linked to in the statement above, entitled "Digital Signatures for Kernel Modules on Systems Running Windows Vista":

        For any kernel-mode component that is not already signed, publishers must obtain a software publishing certificate (SPC) and use the SPC to sign all 64-bit kernel-mode software that runs on x64-based computer systems running Windows Vista. This includes kernel-mode services software [...] KMCS that uses an SPC provides identifiability of the publisher of a kernel module loading into Windows Vista. KMCS does not provide any level of certification of functionality or reliability of the kernel module. If drivers do not qualify for the Windows logo or the logo is not one of the product requirements, the publisher can create a catalog file for the driver package and sign it with the publisher's SPC. [emphasis added]

From "Code Signing for Protected Media Components in Windows Vista":

        [T]he following signing methods are accepted for kernel-mode modules:

                * Signed through the WHQL testing program as part of a driver package submission. For further information, see the WHQL Web site, which is listed in "Resources" at the end of this paper.
                * Signed by the vendor, by using the KMCS process. This process uses the vendor's code-signing certificate together with the cross certificate. [emphasis added]

Bottom line: Gutmann is wrong.

ERROR #3: THE OUTPUT RESTRICTIONS THAT NEVER WERE

With no testing of his own, Gutmann has decided that certain combinations of hardware won't work. For example, he says if you use an HDMI cable to connect your Vista PC's video card to a TV and try to play the audio from an HD DVD or Blu-ray disc over a separate digital audio connection, you'll be shut out:

        Vista's content protection mechanism only allows protected content to be sent over interfaces that also have content-protection facilities built in. Currently the most common high-end audio output interface is S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format). Most newer audio cards, for example, feature TOSlink digital optical output for high-quality sound reproduction, and even the latest crop of motherboards with integrated audio provide at least coax (and often optical) digital output. Since S/PDIF doesn't provide any content protection, Vista requires that it be disabled when playing protected content. In other words if you've sunk a pile of money into a high-end audio setup fed from an S/PDIF digital output, you won't be able to use it with protected content. Instead of hearing premium high-definition audio, you get treated to premium high-definition silence.

This is completely, unequivocally wrong. I've tested multiple systems, using HDMI, DVI, and analog outputs for video and TOSLink and coax connections for digital audio. There's no problem playing back HD video and listening to the accompanying audio over this type of connection. So what is Gutmann talking about?

He continues:

        Similarly, component (YPbPr) video will be disabled by Vista's content protection, so the same applies to a high-end video setup fed from component video. In fact even the most basic composite video out (a.k.a. "TV-out" on video cards) is disabled, at least by nVidia's drivers:

        "This feature is no longer supported due to the new Protected Video Path Output Content Protection (PVP-OPM) in Windows Vista.".

A quick Google search leads to numerous online forums containing howls of outrage at this Windows "feature", and an iTWire review recommends against nVidia-based media center PCs altogether because of it.
Today, any commercially available Blu-ray or HD DVD player will play back just fine over a component connection. Arguably the most popular HD DVD player, Microsoft's Xbox 360 drive, which also works on a Windows PC, has only component connections, in fact.

As for the supposed disabling of composite outputs, Gutmann is laughably wrong. If you actually follow the links in that piece, you'll discover that they have nothing to do with the point Gutmann is trying to make. The "howls of outrage" were over Nvidia's decision to drop support for a feature called Full Screen Video Mirror, which allows enthusiasts with a dual-display setup to automatically play video on a TV while they continue to work at the Windows desktop on the other monitor. It has nothing to do with disabling the composite out connector.

And despite the fact that Nvidia appears to blame Windows Vista's new output protections for this change, there is no evidence that that's true. In fact, in one of the links that Gutmann so thoughtfully provides, a forum participant points to the equivalent feature in ATI's current product line, called Theater mode, which works just fine under Vista.

ERROR #4: THE MYTH OF "TILT BITS"

Gutmann spins a terrifying scenario to suggest that Vista's video driver architecture is outrageously overcomplicated:

        In order to prevent active attacks, device drivers are required to poll the underlying hardware every 30ms for digital outputs and every 150 ms for analog ones to ensure that everything appears kosher. This means that even with nothing else happening in the system, a mass of assorted drivers has to wake up thirty times a second just to ensure that... nothing continues to happen ... In addition to this polling, further device-specific polling is also done, for example Vista polls video devices on each video frame displayed in order to check that all of the grenade pins (tilt bits) are still as they should be. We already have multiple reports from Vista reviewers of playback problems with video and audio content, with video frames dropped and audio stuttering even on high-end systems [Note I]. Time will tell whether this problem is due to immature drivers or has been caused by the overhead imposed by Vista's content protection mechanisms interfering with playback.

Wow, polling the underlying hardware every 30 ms? What a taxing demand on a modern PC! That's more than 30 separate instructions that have to be processed every single second! That will impose a tremendous drag on performance, won't it?

Oh. Wait. I just looked it up. An entry-level dual-core CPU running at 2.0 GHz or higher (the target for most video playback applications) can typically process a minimum of 14 billion instructions per second. A quad-core Intel Core 2 Extreme CPU (which is expensive today but will be an entry-level part in two years) can deal with nearly 60 billion instructions per second. Even a four-year-old Pentium 4 can handle around 10 billion instructions per second. Even an additional 30 million instructions per second would only affect a tiny fraction (well under 1%) of the CPU's processing power.

The reality, stripped of Gutmann's inflammatory language, is this: Vista's playback architecture checks the integrity of the video subsystem as part of the process of sending each video frame to the display. If there's a problem with the video subsystem, you'll know about it right away and be able to troubleshoot it. There, that's not nearly as scary, is it?

And Gutmann's examples assume that this polling happens all the time, as soon as you turn on a Windows PC. That's ridiculous. The only time this activity occurs is if you're playing back premium content using a software player that exercises this feature. If you choose not to play back premium content, you'll never be affected.

By the way, Gutmann's Note I reads, in full:

        Some insider comments indicate that it'll be mid-2007 at least before Vista's non-Microsoft graphics and sound drivers are finished enough to be stable and reliable. Vendors were still frantically rushing to get drivers ready in time for Vista's release (they didn't even make it onto the RTM media and will have to be downloaded after the install), but even those have been described as 'beta-quality at best'. Now that Vista is publicly available, you can use Google to find all the problem reports arising from not-quite-ready-yet drivers.

Well, we're way past mid-2007, and the consensus is indeed that those early reports of dropped frames and video stuttering had everything to do with half-baked drivers and nothing to do with content protection. (I can testify to that firsthand.) Gutmann has added nearly 14,000 words to his report since writing the original paper but strangely hasn't updated this part.

Coming up in Part 2: What Peter Gutmann doesn't know about the PC hardware market.

Re:In reality... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650433)

You mean "reality" like in "lies"?

The problem with Ed Bott's response (5, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649563)

is that it lacks credibility. He quotes other blogs and manuals of equipment - and is light on actual technical details. No one outside of the core development team at Microsoft can claim any competence on the DRM implementation - and again, no one can predict when MS can choose to suddely implement hitherto unknown features via Service Packs or Auto Updates.

Considering that playing audio on Vista cripples the network and I/O badly, Guttman's assertions appear far more credible.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (4, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649637)

..."choose to suddely implement hitherto unknown features via Service Packs or Auto Updates."

Especially unannounced / unapproved updates. Your machine may have been patched while you read this.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650111)

Especially unannounced / unapproved updates. Your machine may have been patched while you read this.
Not here. Autoupdate is completely and totally disabled on this machine. Even better, supposedly it won't work at all with MS's new update site! Ah, we can only dream!

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650473)

Especially unannounced / unapproved updates. Your machine may have been patched while you read this.
Not here. Autoupdate is completely and totally disabled on this machine
Are you sure?

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/15/2040259 [slashdot.org]
Stealthy Windows Update Raises Serious Concerns

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1, Funny)

Idaho (12907) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650563)

Especially unannounced / unapproved updates. Your machine may have been patched while you read this.


I doubt it.

Especially since all my machines run Ubuntu or Mac OS X.

FTFA (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649647)

Wrong.

for instance, Guttman claims you can't play HD DRM'd content on a DVI port as fact. That is complete and utter rubbish, as seen on this example http://www.samsung.com/au/products/monitors/tft/tvmonitor/275t.asp?page=Features [samsung.com] - where it clearly states HDM is playable through a DVI connector.

That's just one example. This ZDNet guy has actually tried out HD content on Vista and is objecting because of actual real experience to the contrary of what this Guttman guy only 'theorises'.

A bug with audio + network speeds (which, btw, Microsoft has admitted is a bug they're working on fixing) has nothing to do with spreading FUD as fact about Vista DRM tech.

Re:FTFA (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649701)

You can't play DRMed HD over a "vanilla" DVI port. This is a known fact. Unless the port supports HDCP (not part of the official DVI standard, and known for LOTS of interoperability problems - see Westinghouse TVs vs. PS3 for example), you're screwed.

Also, the article summary attacks Guttman for claiming that HD can't be played over an analog port. Both are wrong here. DRMed HD can currently be played over an analog port because few discs enable the ICT (Image Constraint Token), but it's just a matter of time before the ICT starts getting flipped on and analog outputs start going to half resolution. I've heard rumors that some cable systems enable ICT for all cable content already.

Note: When I say "DRMed HD" I am referring primarily to the most well-known sources of DRMed high def content, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Both have these limitations among others.

Re:FTFA (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650389)

Also, the article summary attacks Guttman for claiming that HD can't be played over an analog port. Both are wrong here. DRMed HD can currently be played over an analog port because few discs enable the ICT (Image Constraint Token), but it's just a matter of time before the ICT starts getting flipped on and analog outputs start going to half resolution. I've heard rumors that some cable systems enable ICT for all cable content already.

Um, how is this MS' fault though? By building a system to conform to specifications? If you want to blame somebody, blame the studios.

Re:FTFA (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650687)

Right. Never blame the monopoly that has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to create their own new standards, ignoring in-place standards, which proprietary standards quickly become nearly universal regardless of technical merit.

Re:FTFA (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650453)

BZZZZT Incorrect. I recently did it with a Sony Blue Ray player. the current cheapie has a bug in it that makes it easy to circumvent HDCP

connecting BDP-300 player to dvi capture card resulted in no video. so we booted the player with component connected, then connected HDMI to a DVI converter, back to a DVI converter and to hdmi once again for the hdmi capture card.

I then captured about 30 minutes of Casino royale to my mac editing station.

What happens is that the BDP-300 has a small bug, if you connect a component tv to it and boot it, it assumes component is used, but the digital video is still available out the hdmi unencrypted and the handshake is never attempted.

works great. if you connect the player directly like you would normally, the player refuses to output anything as the HDCP handshake fails.

Similar bugs are being discovered in other Blu ray players with hdmi and HDCP. Panasonic for example.

Re:FTFA (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650517)

I would hardly consider exploiting a bug to be a good example. If it worked properly, then you wouldn't have been able to export the video.

Re:FTFA (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649707)

A bug with audio + network speeds (which, btw, Microsoft has admitted is a bug they're working on fixing) has nothing to do with spreading FUD as fact about Vista DRM tech.

This is not an ordinary bug, as in wrong implmentation in code / hardware of a technically sound architecture. The network stack in Vista uses 40% CPU time for simple file transfers - up from 15% in XP and 9% in Linux. This proves that the design deision to rewrite the BSD-stack was a flawed approach, and not a BUG

Secondly, it is not necessary to probe the audio hardware and software 30 times a second, as is done in Vista. That overload on system resources is again not a bug, it is DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN .

Unless Microsoft can demonstrate superior performance with Vista on identical hardware, users will conclude that DRM is such a burden on resources, and avoid using Vista as long as they practically can. This isn't FUD, it's FACT.

Re:FTFA (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649767)

Did I mention they're working on a fix? Ah, I did, but you didn't bold that bit.

As for the audio-stack implementation, maybe you're right, maybe you're wrong. I've never had Windows crack up multimedia under load, whereas I do regularly in Linux. But, if you will, I'll take that as just me.

To the point at hand though, DVI adaptors work fine for HD protected content. Fact.

Re:FTFA (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649857)

Did I mention they're working on a fix? Ah, I did, but you didn't bold that bit.

I find it highly unlikely that they can fix this. After all, if they could, why ship with the reduced performance in the first place - remember, the network performance reduction was put on place intentionally as a hack to get around other flaws. Also, let's not forget that they also worked on WinFS for years, and still failed to deliver. Finally, Microsoft has a reputation of saying anything to help drive sales; in other words, they could be lying.

Re:FTFA (4, Funny)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650317)

in other words, they could be lying.

I take strong exception to your statement that Microsoft could be lying and I think you should withdraw that remark immediately... or at least cross out the word "could".

Re:FTFA (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650409)

I take strong exception to your statement that Microsoft could be lying and I think you should withdraw that remark immediately... or at least cross out the word "could"...

You mean: Microsoft could be speaking the truth, much like the crooks at Media Defender? Very unlikely, given the surreptious Updates that did not get noticed by anti-virus packages.

I'd posted on this a few days back:
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=299847&cid=20634945 [slashdot.org]

Re:FTFA (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650483)

I find it highly unlikely that they can fix this. After all, if they could, why ship with the reduced performance in the first place
Yeah, because nobody ever shipped half-finished code! All code ever shipped (by anybody but Micro$oft, of course) has always be optimal and entirely free of bugs and kludges!

Re:FTFA (-1, Flamebait)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650491)

I find it highly unlikely that they can fix this.

Because you're so familar with the code in the OS, you're qualified to make this statement.

After all, if they could, why ship with the reduced performance in the first place

To make the system more stable. You see, error collection data they received indicated that sound card drivers were causing a ton of problems with system stability. That means thought that sound must compete with other userland drivers, like networking. Given a choice between sound skipping and slower receive rates on the internal network only, I'd choose the latter.

remember, the network performance reduction was put on place intentionally as a hack to get around other flaws.

Flaws like making the system as a whole more stable?

Also, let's not forget that they also worked on WinFS for years, and still failed to deliver.

Which has nothing to do with the issue you are discussing, and nothing at all with DRM. You seem to think that every research project succeeds. That's not true, in any field. They couldn't get it to pan out yet, so what? Do you really succeed at EVERYTHING you do? No, the STFU.

Re:FTFA (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650867)

They could be lying and they could not be. The fact is that you have no idea and you are simply talking out of your ass.

I find it amazing... (1)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650991)

...how comments like this get modded insightful. The only insight, aside from pure speculation, is about WinFS....which has what to do with network/audio problems?

Re:FTFA (1)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649829)

Is there a way to filter out content that refers to "chairs" or "defective by design?" I find people who think that is insightful tend to be misinformed, sputtering with incoherent rage, or both.

Re:FTFA (1)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649841)


Secondly, it is not necessary to probe the audio hardware and software 30 times a second, as is done in Vista. That overload on system resources is again not a bug, it is DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN .

First, let me say that I'm probably one of the last people in all of space-time that would try to stand up for Micro$oft.

Second, to say that something is defective by design ... doesn't that imply that the designers chose a defective design on purpose?

I'm quite prepared to agree that M$ can't design a good piece of X to save their Y, but I'd have to know the individual designers to be able to claim that they designed something like video streaming in such a broken fashion on purpose. Doubly so, considering that there's nothing to EmbraceAndExtend by doing so - except to cause their customers to embrace something besides Vista.

Just a thought...

Re:FTFA (3, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649889)

It means that it has been designed to actually limit performance for no technical reasons at all. Precisely what they have done here, with DRM.

Re:FTFA (2, Insightful)

cronot (530669) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649879)

[...] users will conclude that DRM is such a burden on resources, and avoid using Vista as long as they practically can. This isn't FUD, it's FACT.

You give too much credit to users.

No, users won't avoid using Vista because of performance or DRM issues, because Vista comes/will come preinstalled with their shiny new computer that, being faster than their old computer, will mask the relative lack of performance Vista has compared to XP. As for DRM, many will be pissed, sure, but they won't go through the hassle of crying foul on this because most of them aren't as educated as we are to know how much they are being screwed and abused, so they will think that's just how things are supposed to be and cope.

The fact that Vista will come preinstalled on new computers also means that, for the very few that won't be willing to take all the bullshit, they will have to buy a new copy of Windows XP - which won't be in the market for too long now, so that means that when XP stops being sold, they will be faced with the decision of either migrating to another OS (OSX or Linux) or bearing with Vista. Again, guess what the majority of that (already small percentage of people who won't accept MS's and media industry's bullshit) people will do? Hint: What they are more used to / more confortable with?

Re:FTFA (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650571)

No, users won't avoid using Vista because of performance or DRM issues, because Vista comes/will come preinstalled with their shiny new computer that, being faster than their old computer, will mask the relative lack of performance Vista has compared to XP.

Oh! So that means the userbase of Windows Vista consists entirely of stupids? I would imagine that atleast 20% of all PC users have some knowledge about Operating Systems, hardware, standards etc. Quite a sizable no. in fact - and I cannot imagine they will be easily brainwashed like you describe above.

Re:FTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649975)

This is not an ordinary bug, as in wrong implmentation in code / hardware of a technically sound architecture. The network stack in Vista uses 40% CPU time for simple file transfers - up from 15% in XP and 9% in Linux. This proves that the design deision to rewrite the BSD-stack was a flawed approach, and not a BUG
40% of which CPU? also at which frequency, knowing that CPUs downclock themselves with SpeedStep or Cool&Quiet? also I don't see how the performance problems in the network stack are related with the DRM.


Secondly, it is not necessary to probe the audio hardware and software 30 times a second, as is done in Vista. That overload on system resources is again not a bug, it is DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN .
if you did read the article you would have known that the polling happens only during playback and all of this only with the lame ITC (Image Token Constraint), the cause of all this concern, turned on. did you also know that protected video/audio path on Vista is used only by windows media player (or applications that rely on its components)? if you use another player, let's say a future version of VLC that will play HD-DVD and Blu-Ray without using the protected media path (not mandatory) you would avoid all those performance issues that bother you.

Unless Microsoft can demonstrate superior performance with Vista on identical hardware, users will conclude that DRM is such a burden on resources, and avoid using Vista as long as they practically can. This isn't FUD, it's FACT.
since when did new windows versions run better than the previous ones? I've kept a partition with windows 98 for almost 2 years after XP came out because on 98 games (and not only games) were running better even with mature XP drivers. if people were really so obsessed with performance then everybody would have stick with windows 3.0 or 95 that have far less overhead than NT-based OSes, don't you think?

Re:FTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650501)

Secondly, it is not necessary to probe the audio hardware and software 30 times a second, as is done in Vista. That overload on system resources is again not a bug, it is DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN .

Do you even know what the hell you're talking about? Polling hardware 30 times per second is an overload? That is nothing. Even a typical mouse driver polls around 100 times per second. And some of them allow adjustment up to 500 times per second for "increased accuracy" in gaming. If this was such an overload then your computer would bog down every time you moved the mouse.

The blogger is right on this point. Modern CPUs are more than powerful enough to handle this. Guttman is just blowing FUD.

Re:FTFA (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20651007)

This is not an ordinary bug, as in wrong implmentation in code / hardware of a technically sound architecture.

In fact, that's *exactly* what it is. An implementation that produces less than ideal results in certain circumstances because of incorrect/bad assumptions.

How is that *not* a textbook example of a bug ?

The network stack in Vista uses 40% CPU time for simple file transfers - up from 15% in XP and 9% in Linux.

What ?

This proves that the design deision to rewrite the BSD-stack was a flawed approach, and not a BUG

Windows NT hasn't had a "BSD-stack" since NT 3.x.

Secondly, it is not necessary to probe the audio hardware and software 30 times a second, as is done in Vista. That overload on system resources is again not a bug, it is DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN .

What overload on system resources ? What evidence is there the system resources are being overloaded ? A poor understanding on your behalf of what the MMCSS is doing, does not equal "an overload on system resources".

Unless Microsoft can demonstrate superior performance with Vista on identical hardware, users will conclude that DRM is such a burden on resources, and avoid using Vista as long as they practically can. This isn't FUD, it's FACT.

The fact is that "DRM load" is irrelevant to current systems, largely because little (if any) media is actually DRM-encumbered and secondly because any machine capable of playing media that will be DRM-encumbered has a significant surplus of hardware resources.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649657)

I think I'm going to write a blog on this! It seems the cool thing to do.

I'm taking suggestions on how much bullshit and FUD I should put in!!!

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649895)

You can just grab a bunch of text from here in the comments; a bunch of what is written here is by people who have never even used Vista and have no clue what they are talking about. That would play well on your new blog.

Speaking as someone who has used Vista, the audio bug that people mentioned is actually worse than what I've seen in the press. I was using robocopy to transfer several GB of data (Windows Images actually and other large ISO files like the Windows AIK, Office, etc. from my desktop to my notebook over a GB switch the other day. Transfer was at about 4% network utilization. Then I exited from the Free Cell game I was playing while the files transferred. Network utilization jumped immediately up and ran between 15%-20%. Curious, I opened Free Cell again and the transfer utilization dropped back to 4%. So it isn't just Windows Media Player using these API's that drop the interrupt rates down. Other Windows elements like the built in games can do it too.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1)

LarsG (31008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649893)

The same criticism can be directed at Guttman too. I'd wish he would cut down on all the editorializing and MS-is-evil innuendo; he has valid points but those would be much more effective if he could just stick to the facts.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650117)

"is that it lacks credibility. He quotes other blogs and manuals of equipment - and is light on actual technical details." - by jkrise (535370) on Tuesday September 18, @07:11AM (#20649563)
Another Jeremy Reimer of arstechnica: No actual degrees in computer science, nor certifications in areas of computer science, & certainly no hands-on years to decades of professional hands-on experience in the trenches in IT period. Charlatans abound online & Reimer is the biggest one of them all.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (3, Insightful)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650151)

The fact that the HD DRM issue is so complex people can't understand is, itself, an indictment that Windows (and anything pertaining to multimedia) has reached a point where it no longer serves the consumer, even if it actually works, which as we've seen, is often not the case.

I can't imagine wanting to get into the whole HD thing, it seems rife with unforeseen pitfalls, misleading marketing, devices with built-in crippling that can be turned on at random by the vendor, arbitrary and capricious limitations and a general air of out-of-control bureaucracy with the consumer at the mercy of people who treat him like a criminal. (A lot like Vista now that I think of it.)

I'll keep my 18-year-old 26" RCA TV and low-end Toshiba DVD player... it works just fine, thank you.

Re:The problem with Ed Bott's response (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650989)

The fact that the HD DRM issue is so complex people can't understand is, itself, an indictment that Windows (and anything pertaining to multimedia) has reached a point where it no longer serves the consumer, even if it actually works, which as we've seen, is often not the case.

Is refusing to support certain standards 'serving the customer'?

As it stands, Windows Vista with regard to DRM is simple - If you want to use DRM-sporting content, do so, if you don't then don't and it won't affect you. This seems to be by far preferable to them simply saying "We don't like the idea much, so we've decided for you that you'll never be able to play DRM protected or HD content".

That aside, I totally agree with you that I don't see any good reason to get bogged down in the whole 'HD thing' personally, solely because of the over the top DRM implications. But at least I have the choice to use it or not...

This brings up another problem... (1)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650227)

No one outside of the core development team at Microsoft can claim any competence on the DRM implementation - and again, no one can predict when MS can choose to suddely implement hitherto unknown features via Service Packs or Auto Updates.

Ah, closed source strikes again!

If this is the argument you wish to use, then any individual with a modicum of intellectual honesty cannot accept either paper, because, after all, both are just speculation.

Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (5, Insightful)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649565)

The two writers disagree on the meaning of 'Vista will not display HD content on this monitor'. Ed Bott appears to contradict himself:

Vista will indeed display HD content on this monitor over the D-Sub and component video outputs, which are capable of outputting 1080p and 1080i signals, respectively. In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices,
In other words Vista will display HD images but only in un-DRM mode, and if you try to pay a movie that you have bought and paid for but which has the flag set for 'trusted output path' or whatever they call it, Vista will refuse to display it. Which is, I think, the point Peter Gutmann was trying to make.

package labelling (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649655)

Restrictions on displaying the content

"would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it."

Yeah, right. Who's gonna read the box? After WalMart hands in all the returned crippleware to the distributors, you'll wish you never came up with such an idiotic scheme.

Re:package labelling (1)

jefu (53450) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650771)

Any bets that the restrictions will be in the packaging, so you'll have to buy the thing before you can see them, at which point the store will refuse to refund your money because you opened it?

I would point out (3, Interesting)

Toreo asesino (951231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649685)

Wording aside, Samsung themselves state quite clearly HDCP support is available through DVI. There's your trusted path.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (2, Interesting)

Barraketh (630764) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649709)

I think this is an important distinction that has to be made, so I'm glad Ed Bott is making it. The provider is *choosing* to make his content only playable through an encrypted channel, and the consumer is again *choosing* to buy this content. Microsoft is merely providing the option to do so. Including the option of playing drm'd wma files in media player doesn't mean that your system suddenly won't play mp3s, and similarly this doesn't mean that Vista won't play regular h264 files over d-sub. Now, many slashdotters hate the entire idea of drm, and so they might think that even giving the content providers this option is somehow "evil". Well, guess what - this is capitalism, and Microsoft thinks that the ability to play HDDVD/BlueRay is good for business. They have no obligation to uphold some undefined ideal of freedom - if the consumers want media without drm, they'll buy media without drm.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649913)

I think this is somewhat disingenuous, since by the same argument any business practice can be justified. It's not as if there is free competition in operating systems (if there were, a competitor to Microsoft selling a Windows-compatible system would produce a version that supported HD output on all devices, and consumers would buy it instead).

Let's face it, consumers cannot *choose* to turn off the DRM... there is no checkbox in the Vista control panel for 'do not cripple digital media output', even though it would be technically very easy for Microsoft to implement. Having no effective competitor in the marketplace they have no incentive to give users what they want.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650301)

Let's face it, consumers cannot *choose* to turn off the DRM... there is no checkbox in the Vista control panel for 'do not cripple digital media output'
They can, however, choose not to buy DRM'd media. But no, people don't want that choice. They want to be able to buy whatever media they want and then use it whatever way they want, even if it means breaking the law.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

kryptkpr (180196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650675)

They want to be able to buy whatever media they want and then use it whatever way they want, even if it means breaking the law.

I'm sorry, this is wrong why exactly?

If the laws are good in theory but stupid in practice (and they are), they will in practice be broken.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650801)

The copyright holder should have the ability to try to stop illegal sharing of their works. Making it illegal for them to do this would be as terrible as making it illegal to not have DRM'd content.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650881)

They can, however, choose not to buy DRM'd media.
Except that the media cartels [google.com] remove that choice, too, by not providing that content in non DRM formats. You point out that we don't have to buy their media, which is true, but in most industries "my way or the highway" is generally not considered much choice.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650915)

How exactly is it breaking the law to display a movie you bought on a TV you own in your own house?

I don't know about what everybody else wants, but I want to buy content legally and play it on my own PC without being at the mercy of binary-only drivers, content signing, deliberate crippling of functionality, and the increased hardware costs caused by needing to support all that anti-functionality.

I want to exercise my rights within copyright law and respect the publishers' right to exercise theirs. If there are to be changes to the copyright bargain, either to increase restrictions on the public or to loosen them, then these can be decided by the legislatures of individual countries and not imposed by Microsoft or any other company.

buy media without drm? (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650045)

There is no much choice. You cannot go to a shop and ask a DVD without encryption, and you cannot go to microsoft and ask a optimized version of vista were all this drm crap is removed. You pay MS for this DRM crap and extra checks in the drivers if you want to or not.

This is not about your choice, this is about a MS choice. Gutman is explaining with a lot of text why he does not like it. And botte ed is picking on 4 points in his long text that could be explained different than the general point Gutman want to make.

But you have the choice to ignore the slashdot anti-M$ sentiments instead of trying to discuss against it.

Re:buy media without drm? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650327)

There is no much choice. You cannot go to a shop and ask a DVD without encryption
I can however go to non-DRM'd sources. The big media companies have decided to use DRM, many independents have chosen not to use it. The public now supports one (or both) of these business models causing one (or both) groups to thrive. Currently big media is thriving a lot more then the independents, as such DRM obviously isn't as big of an issue as many here at slashdot claim it is.

Re:buy media without drm? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650789)

Could be because, you know, people care more about content then their moral principles since most people on slashdot can defeat the DRM with their eyes closed?

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650579)

... if the consumers want media without drm, they'll buy media without drm.
And how, exactly, are you going to buy media without DRM if that's all the content producers will create? Oh, wait, you didn't say you could buy the media you might actually want....

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (4, Informative)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650009)

In other words Vista will display HD images but only in un-DRM mode, and if you try to pay a movie that you have bought and paid for but which has the flag set for 'trusted output path' or whatever they call it, Vista will refuse to display it. Which is, I think, the point Peter Gutmann was trying to make.

It's also worth noting that the only software players capable of playing BluRay and HD-DVD discs on PCs are the commercial products PowerDVD and WinDVD. Both of these players restrict output to something like 900x500 if the player detects that anything other than HDMI is being used. The discs themselves and the OS are not responsible for this decision. Both PowerDVD and WinDVD decided on their own to restrict output on HD-DVD and BluRay if HDMI is not in use. None of the movie studios have objected to this policy. So while the discs themselves and Windows Vista are not restricting HD content output, the only players available are restricting this output. None of the currently available HD-DVD and BluRay discs have turned on the flag on the disc that restricts output if HDMI is not in use, but that could change at any point in the future.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (4, Insightful)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650037)

In other words Vista will display HD images but only in un-DRM mode, and if you try to pay a movie that you have bought and paid for but which has the flag set for 'trusted output path' or whatever they call it, Vista will refuse to display it. Which is, I think, the point Peter Gutmann was trying to make.

And the fact that Bott subsequently tries to dismiss the whole thing as a triviality, even in the face of the obvious future use of this misfeature, really does call his objectivity and credibility into question.

Re:Vista 'will' or 'will not' display HD content (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650119)

In other words Vista will display HD images but only in un-DRM mode, and if you try to pay a movie that you have bought and paid for but which has the flag set for 'trusted output path' or whatever they call it, Vista will refuse to display it.

Indeed. Just like every other player on the market will refuse to play it (or degrade the output).

Which is, I think, the point Peter Gutmann was trying to make.

Gutmann is disingenuously blaming Vista for this problem, when it is in fact the content providers who are responsible.

Vista plays HD video *fine*. Whether or not it is *allowed* to output that HD video on your particular hardware combination, is an something you need to take up with the people who sold you that content.

Please don't link to blogs "debunking" stuff... (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649569)

...they tend to be wrong.

I don't see how listing 4 errors would constitute as a debunking of a paper, much the less when after a cursory glance the last one is patently not debunked. The blog is trying to debunk Gutmann when he says that the DRM system is overcomplicated and might cause problems. The blogger basically says computers are fast enough to handle the DRM and equates Gutmann saying "polling every 30ms" with executing a single cpu instruction every 30ms and concludes it's not taxing at all.

Of course the "play audio and don't expect your gigabit card to work fast" easily disproves his whole counterargument.

Re:Please don't link to blogs "debunking" stuff... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649595)

"Of course the "play audio and don't expect your gigabit card to work fast" easily disproves his whole counterargument."

How on earth did elevation of certain services end up beeing connected DRM in any way, you guys are unbelivable.

Re:Please don't link to blogs "debunking" stuff... (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650165)

Of course the "play audio and don't expect your gigabit card to work fast" easily disproves his whole counterargument.

How so ? It has nothing to do with DRM.

Re:Please don't link to blogs "debunking" stuff... (2, Insightful)

ednopantz (467288) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650217)

I'm going to go with "funny."

  • The man says that Bott's debunking 4 points of Gutmann's paper doesn't invalidate the paper.
  • Then says Bott is wrong on this 1 point so it debunks his whole paper.

This has got to be some kind of meta-commentary on debunking. Either that or the commenter doesn't read what he writes. A third possibility, likely since this is Slashdot, is that when one needs to bash Microsoft, 2 + 2 = 5 if it needs to.

They might do WHAT? (1)

aeschenkarnos (517917) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649573)

a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices

Ha! That's game over right there.

Re:They might do WHAT? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649639)

Are you late jumping on this boat or what? We've known about this since long before Vista launched. In fact, everything in this article was known. The exact same thing happens on a PS3 without an HDMI/HDCP TV as well.

It's just another instance of DRM harming the consumer and NOT harming pirates. Pirates will just strip the DRM and watch it however they please. Consumers will have to buy equipment that is certified, and if something changes in the future, they may have to buy more equipment. (They -may- be able to upgrade firmware, but that's not guaranteed.)

Re:They might do WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649785)

It's time the nerds quit trying to save those consumers and just let them suffer. DRM will inevitably cause massive problems at some juncture, so just let it happen. If there is a consumer backlash against the crippling of legally purchased media, we win. If there isn't, and people come to accept inferior content, fine.

Either way, I'm not going to lose this war. If I can't watch it properly with the DRM, I can almost certainly strip it (and if I can't, I just need to wait a few days for someone smarter to come along and figure it for me) and watch the correct copy I paid for.

Quit trying to save idiots from themselves and just let the economic version of Darwinism take its course. If people choose not to be properly informed when making purchases, let them suffer with the consequences until they learn how to be proper, self-interested consumers.

Re:They might do WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650097)

Something similar to your scenario is probably inevitable even without such a boycott. There's a lot of optimism based on past experience that any DRM will magically be hacked within days by some genius. However, it is possible to produce DRM that is very difficult to break. Sure it only takes one person to do it and release a rip, but there's no guarantee that you'll be able to find such a thing, if you do you probably have to run legal risks downloading it, and you're (probably) effectively deprived of your fair-use right to make a backup yourself.

Consider that content providers are increasingly moving to online streaming models, and many current satellite / cable encryption methods are already more effort / cost to break than is worth it. Even for physical media, see HD-DVD; if it weren't for the fact that mistakes were made (software players with keys recoverable in memory, sniffable bus on Xbox 360 HD-DVD addon) ripping would be much harder, probably impossible for the average person to do. Blu-ray is worse with its optional additional security, just how bad remains to be seen. Oh, and try hacking when only 'trusted' TPCA systems that prevent you from using a debugger etc can be used ("I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" ...)

Oh, in THAT case. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649575)

That makes ALL the difference I suppose. I guess as long as the box is supposed to say you're getting screwed, then it's OKAY to get screwed. I mean, if that's the only format available to your honest consumer, the Take-It-Up-The-Rear Edition Gold, now with new and improved Paying the Middleman Features, then it's just plain good business, right?


....Right??

Re:Oh, in THAT case. (1)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649981)

That would be the bare minimum, but actually, they won't even put the constraints on the box, or they put them with a very careful wording

Just look at the packaging of a recent video game where "Internet connection required" on the box actually mean "Number of install limited to x".

Re:Oh, in THAT case. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650417)

Just as Linux is available to people who don't like Windows, so is non-DRM content available to people who don't like DRM. What people here at slashdot really want is the content that the copyright holder doesn't have the ability to determine how their content is distributed. Unfortunately for such people copyright law exists and it gives the copyright holder (holder, not owner. No-one owns copyright except as a whole, we simply surrender our rights (for way too long IMO) for a limited time to a particular person or organization) the ability to decide the format. People here should be either looking to overturn copyright law and destroy it completely or to limit the length so they don't have to wait as long for works to be put into the public domain. Because every copyright holder should have the ability to choose what format they present their works in to the public.

Re:Oh, in THAT case. (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650847)

Actually most countries copyright laws give the consumers the right to do whatever they want with the content for personal use. DRM is violating that right.

Anything you have may be taken away. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649577)

It's obvious that they can't immediately take away what you already have; otherwise they wouldn't be competitive with their own existing solutions. What's important is not what they block now. What's important is that they can auto update you later to take away whatever you have. Further, all of the media is being designed to block you out if you don't accept auto updates.

Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649591)

There are two sides to Microsoft. The business side and the technical side. The technical side is filled with people who want to build good things that are useful and enjoyable to use for many people (though it sometimes doesn't feel that way). The business side sells the technology to anyone and everyone, and makes promises that are too difficult to keep and in the process tarnishes Microsoft's reputation.

So what happens when Microsoft starts supporting industry standards is that the technical side gets it as right as they can while the sales side is selling clients the moon. All of a sudden, clients get their wildest dreams answered. In reality, that's not happening. But since MS has got that bad reputation, they make an easy target for anyone with an axe to grind. Small variances from the truth can be made with impunity for these complainers, because everyone already assumes the worst from MS.

By the type of comments I expect to see in this thread, most people have already made up their minds one way or another. Since this is Slashdot, they will obviously be negative towards Microsoft.

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649653)

You have it just a little backwards. Most of the people here on Slashdot have had their fingers burned by Microsoft, at one time or another, and are generally far more technically ept than most. I know my fingertips are a little charred around the edges, so on those occasions when I bash Microsoft it's because I'm speaking for experience. Furthermore, I'm not particularly forgiving of defective-by-design software, no matter who the vendor. A lot of Slashdotters are like that, and the fact is, unfortunately, that Microsoft produces more DBD products than anyone else.

If Microsoft has a bad rep, after all these years of second and third chances, it's because they've earned it.

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649699)

Thing is, their design comes from the marketing department. The technical implementation of the design is usually good. It is defective-by-design from a feature POV. Not getting into my own pet peeves here, but technically MS products aren't half bad compared to others (even open source).

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650063)

The technical implementation is usually good?
WTF.
MFC, anyone?
Friggen MS Word format?
Hell, those are only the two I'm familiar with.
I'm sure we could start a whole new thread making fun of you.

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650787)

And why should I care about MS' internal politics?

I don't care whether it's the marketing department, the lawyers, the programmers or the janitor who are at fault for MS releasing crap.

The fact is that they release crap far too often and that's the one thing I care about.

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650323)

I know my fingertips are a little charred around the edges

      I wish I had mod points!

      It's not just "defective by design". It's proprietary software, vendor "lock in", and forced upgrade paths with the triannual or quadrannual "Microsoft" tax. Along with the general complacency that comes out of Redmond, not to mention denial when SERIOUS problems are pointed out.

      I've been thinking about leaving Windows for a while. I finally managed to get ubuntu working last weekend (turns out my install problems on my 64 bit AMD machine were solvable by the noapic nolapic command line option), yesterday I played my first DVD with xine. It took a bit of work, but it's done. Open office is ok - even better now that IBM is going to be behind it too. I guess as soon as wine/Cedega can run the newer games Windows is gone forever. And good riddance.

Re:Giving Microsoft the benefit of the doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649917)

When I create slideshow videos with XP and try to run them on Vista's Windows Media Player, I get a "There is a problem with your video card" error. I'm using all WHQL drivers. I can play them with Winamp on Vista just fine, no problem with my video card. That is, as long as I disable all of the indexing, searching, and a plethora of other ancillary stuff that I don't need. If I don't all video just stutters. Even Internet streaming video slideshows that play fine on a Win98 800MHz system stutter in Vista. 2 cores, 2GB of RAM, nice fast SATA drive and all WHQL drivers shouldn't have these problems.

My opinion is that Microsoft should put out an OS that is an OS and make it easy to develop applications on. Leave the desktop search, AV, Malware, media playing, web browsing, etc to third parties. Remove the "deep integration" aspects of their add-ons as they only lead to deep penetration. By all means, leave the DRM work to some other scapegoat. They spent far too much time and effort integrating "STUFF" into Vista and not nearly enough time and effort in OS innovation or overall speed improvement. Performance wise, every system I have with far less raw computing power outperforms the Vista workstation running the same content and apps. Fixing problems on Vista has been very much like trying to make wireless work on Linux four years ago on unsupported wireless chipsets. If I am going to pay for an OS, I want an OS, a high quality one, and a fast one. Vista is none of these.

HD content on Vista? Who cares? There are far better ways to spend your money to get the HD content you want than dumping thousands of dollars into the hardware needed to make a substandard OS palpable.

DRM issues with RIAA and MPAA, etc, won't be solved until consumers stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on the crippled content. Vote with your wallet, your bank accounts, and your eyes. Stop watching what they want you to watch, and how they want you to watch it. When no one is watching or buying, they will figure it out. You might have to read a book or two between now and then, but probably better to get some before they start restricting that medium too.

The blog misses the point (1)

ColourlessGreenIdeas (711076) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649623)

The fact that a content author might chose not to make use of the DRM is irrelevant. The issue Gutmann complains about is that the whole design is complicated to allow for the possibility that they might use it.

Windows Update (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20649659)

Windows Update can prevent the consumer from playing the media anytime MS want to.

This has happened before when Disney corp. convinced MS to deploy a "critical update" with WU to prevent the DRM of Disney's media to be circumvented.

Wrong assumptions (1)

threeturn (622824) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649741)

If you don't want ANY signed drivers and you don't want ANY DRM then splitting hairs over the details of just how bad these features are is rather pointless.

There's A Larger Problem... (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649765)

...beyond who's right, or whether either one is right. Vista already has had it's reputation sullied because of previously documented problems with multimedia... documented in blogs and by "traditional" journalism outlets.

It has problems both with and without DRM.

Either way, it's going to undermine Microsoft. With so few people willing to make the move from XP to Vista already, this won't help.

Why the hell would Joe Consumer lay down the coin to have a "multimedia computer", only to find out he has to pay again to be able to play Blu-Ray, or HD, or anything else?

And God Forbid if his... mo-vie... grinnnndddsss... to... a... ss-s-sssllooowww... ...crawwwllll.

Vista == Micro Channel (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650015)

I commented about this yesterday [slashdot.org] .

blind free market faith (4, Insightful)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649791)

Rubbish: "...giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it."

This is no good when the manufacturers form a cartel and decide that all devices will be locked this way, or when the content industry forms and decides that content will only be available for devices locked this way.

Then the free market can no longer express what the people want.

Re:blind free market faith (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650085)

Then the free market can no longer express what the people want.

      What the people want is their media for free. The "market" is no longer about bringing the content to the people, it's about preventing people from easily getting to the content. "Free" market rules, supply and demand rules no longer apply. How can they when a "good" can be perfectly reproduced an infinite number of times by anyone with a CD/DVD burner?

      These problems will continue until the middlemen/publishers realize once and for all that they are obsolete in the information age and MOVE ON. Perhaps the music "industry" can still make money organizing concerts and advising their musicians on how to set up their online music distribution. And perhaps the movie industry will realize that there's a limit to how much they can expect to earn from a film and budget accordingly.

      CHANGE IS GOOD. There is now a more efficient way of doing things. Instead of bundling CD's/DVD's into cases, putting them into trucks/planes, burning fuel to get them to a retail store, and paying for all those sales/marketing/retail people, you can send it directly to the purchaser for a trivial cost (after all, the "pirates" seem to be able to afford the bandwidth) over the internet. Yes, that means all those sales/marketing/retail people are out of a job. GOOD. THEIR JOBS ARE WASTEFUL compared to this new technology. It's time for them to adapt.

      Instead the "industry" is fighting like hell to continue to produce waste - in fact, they are INCREASING it by making reproduction devices that conflict, DRM schemes that fail miserably and produce false positives, etc. Passing more waste onto the end user. Congratulations, idiots.

Re:blind free market faith (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650349)

Then the free market can no longer express what the people want.

The free market can not express anything for the same reason that the invisible hand of the market is invisible: it doesn't exist and can't in fact exist.

TWW

Re:blind free market faith (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650665)

Even if every device was locked down and every copy DRM'd and the analog hole closed and the whole thing worked and was secure and perfect and piracy was stomped out of existance and people couldn't even protest by choosing looser DRM over tighter, people could protest by not buying.

There used to be a time when protesting means that you had to forsake something. I wonder when it changed to mean that you still want to get everything you want, with a side order of protest.

EULA for media? (3, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649905)

"In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices, but that decision would apply only to a specific piece of media, and it would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it." Says who? Software doesn't have its EULA on the outside of the box, why would this stuff?

Passing the buck... (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#20649939)

The draconian DRM debacle that is called Vista is sounding more and more like the who's-to-blame catch-22 we've all experienced in the past: Your high definition video won't play in HD mode. Microsoft-it's the hardware's fault, PC maker-it's the content provider's fault, Content Provider-it's Vista's fault. Anyone else want to dance?

Re:Passing the buck... (1)

hellsDisciple (889830) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650211)

Presumably if microsoft wanted to they could have just said no to DRM to hollywood. I guess microsoft would have more clout than they would.

Re:Passing the buck... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650393)

The draconian DRM debacle that is called Vista is sounding more and more like the who's-to-blame catch-22 we've all experienced in the past: Your high definition video won't play in HD mode. Microsoft-it's the hardware's fault, PC maker-it's the content provider's fault, Content Provider-it's Vista's fault. Anyone else want to dance?

Except, as has been pointed out, Vista isn't actually CAUSING the restriction on some playback, they're only supporting it if the content provider that invests the money in producing the content in the first place WANTS to use it. You're looking for ways to imply that MS has a hand in deciding if/when a given producer elects to enable a specific feature. They don't. That's up to the artists and the people they hire to distribute their work for them. If they don't enable that feature in their content, then it simply doesn't matter downstream, and that's Bott's point.

Re:Passing the buck... (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650617)

Your high definition video won't play in HD mode
Only if you bought DRMed video. You can always not do this. It's not the end of the world.

Microsoft-it's the hardware's fault, PC maker-it's the content provider's fault, Content Provider-it's Vista's fault. Anyone else want to dance?
You're the only one dancing, but only because you don't actually understand the situation at all. All parties are blaming the content providers, and the content providers are blaming it on "those damn pirates".

The choice given to Microsoft here by the movie industry was thus: listen to us and implement our DRM system, or your users can't play our stuff at high quality. End of story. Surprisingly, seeing as even Microsoft don't have the clout to take on the entire movie industry all at once, and people playing these discs on computers is not a notably large chunk of their market, Microsoft chose the option that would sell more operating systems.

It doesn't help with Gutmann throwing his oar in and trying to give his opinions on something that he clearly just does not understand. He keeps trying to assert that Vista is degrading video for every HD movie or file you play, and it's just not true at all. Sure, it'll run it through the media path, but it won't protect it, and there's no extra overhead from doing so.

Re:Passing the buck... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650945)

I think what Gutmann said is that if you play any DRM'd media all your other media gets degraded too because Vista does it all or nothing style.

So That's a Yes Then? (5, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650283)

Vista will indeed display HD content on this monitor over the D-Sub and component video outputs, which are capable of outputting 1080p and 1080i signals, respectively. In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices, but that decision would apply only to a specific piece of media, and it would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it.
So that's a yes then. In the event that special content gets displayed on Vista there is a DRM subsystem all ready and waiting to restrict it.

He's also debunking silly things like stupidly large monitors, and he fills an entire page with it:

So, this is "stupidly large (for a computer monitor)"? Not if you're planning to install it in an airport or an office lobby
Well no, but it is a daft size for the vast majority of people, as indicated when he wrote 'computer monitor'. You devoted a whole page to this?

Regarding code signing:

That sounds awful, doesn't it? If you own a hardware company you are completely at Microsoft's mercy, and if they decide not to approve your drivers, or just delay their approval, you'll starve to death. Too bad Gutmann is completely wrong. He is confusing digital signatures with the Windows Logo process administered by Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL).
Again, he uses an incredible sleight of hand here. He doesn't deny that certificate signing is required, and talks about buying a certificate, which he notes are not controlled by Microsoft but are listed on Microsoft's site:

Anyone can get a software publishing certificate from the independent certification companies listed here, none of which is owned or controlled by Microsoft. I found a suitable certificate for $229.
Bottom line, ergo, you have to have a signed driver for use in the kernel one way or the other. He doesn't deny that at all, and it's an incredible piece of trying to tell us that the emperor is actually wearing clothes.

This is completely, unequivocally wrong. I've tested multiple systems, using HDMI, DVI, and analog outputs for video and TOSLink and coax connections for digital audio. There's no problem playing back HD video and listening to the accompanying audio over this type of connection.
Notice that he doesn't tell us what content he has tested here, nor does he deny that there is a DRM subsystem in Vista preventing playback on certain outputs given certain content.

Arguably the most popular HD DVD player, Microsoft's Xbox 360 drive, which also works on a Windows PC, has only component connections, in fact.
I don't know what kind of a rebuttal this is supposed to be, but you don't need HDMI for gaming as Microsoft has stated. However, Microsoft have not ruled out providing a HDMI pack which inevitably would include content protection for certain kinds of content. He doesn't deny this.

Wow, polling the underlying hardware every 30 ms? What a taxing demand on a modern PC! That's more than 30 separate instructions that have to be processed every single second! That will impose a tremendous drag on performance, won't it? Oh. Wait. I just looked it up. An entry-level dual-core CPU running at 2.0 GHz or higher
He doesn't deny anything here, but merely tells us that a modern PC can handle all this.

Vista's playback architecture checks the integrity of the video subsystem as part of the process of sending each video frame to the display. If there's a problem with the video subsystem, you'll know about it right away and be able to troubleshoot it. There, that's not nearly as scary, is it?
Depends on how you word it ;-). Why does Vista need to 'check the integrity of the video subsystem' in the first place. Other systems don't need to do that, and why on Earth does it need to do that for each frame?! This is pure BS.

The only time this activity occurs is if you're playing back premium content using a software player that exercises this feature. If you choose not to play back premium content, you'll never be affected.
So you're not denying that he's right about this then, you're not denying that there is a DRM subsystem in Vista and you're not rebutting anything?

Well, we're way past mid-2007, and the consensus is indeed that those early reports of dropped frames and video stuttering had everything to do with half-baked drivers and nothing to do with content protection. (I can testify to that firsthand.)
Considering that you've admitted that Vista's DRM subsystem checks every video frame, how can you be sure of that?

There's very little in the way of details here, and I'm suspicious of someone who simply picks out his own highlights.

Re:So That's a Yes Then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650751)

He doesn't deny anything here, but merely tells us that a modern PC can handle all this.

He also seriously underplays how expensive polling actually is. He does some handwaving about speed, but ignores the hardware and software facts about polling.

I think the astroturf label gets tossed around too often, but I really believe that the guy is somehow being compensated by MS for this "objective viewpoint" whitewash.

Ad hominem (3, Insightful)

Riba (21663) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650311)

So, rather than dismissing claims of Vistas dystopian DRM-landscape they just make ad hominem attacks on mr Gutmann and his work. Right. Now move along , nothing to see here, especially if you're using Vista. :-)

Ed Bott is NOT A BLOGGER. (0, Troll)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650611)

Ed Bott [slashdot.org] is no more an impartial, unpaid person expressing their opinion about things they like than Laura Didiot [groklaw.net] is.

"have to be disclosed"? (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650631)

Exactly which law would require this disclosure? Because obviously voluntary disclosure isn't going to happen.

Fucking doublespeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20650793)

People in the media are becoming such fucking pussies. I'd bet $5 that the submitter wrote "lies", and Zonk edited it to "untruths". Double-plus-unmanly, Zonk, you whore.

No. No. and No. (3, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#20650799)

Let's get something straight regarding consumers. They are stupid. You know it, I know it, hell, even they know it. Saying that it will be on the "media" and that consumers will have a choice to buy it is sycophantic at the least, and dishonest if you examine it closer.

An excellent for-instance is the "secur-disc" technology that prevents copying. Go look at one of these boxes in Best-Buy. You will discover that "secur-disc" will prevent unauthorized copy of your copyrighted data to keep you safe! They don't mention that the average joe doesn't copyright or protect his DVD's. Nor do they mention that secur-disk invalidates the point of purchasing a dvd "Burner" - to copy DVD's, rip media, etc.

The technology was not put there to protect the consumer. The technology was not put there to simply "sit" and not be used. It was put there because hardware and media companies are demanding it. What is the alternative if you want a DVD and the only versions that have been released have this technology on them? You have none, aside from simply not watching the movie.

To go one step further, the average consumer doesn't read those labels, any more than the average consumer reads a Eula, or reads the FBI warning at the beginning of a DVD. You could claim that it is the consumers fault if they are not informed. I would beg to differ. In this day in age, everything from buying a Turkey sandwich at the local gas station to purchasing a game online has so many licensing agreements, privacy policy sign-offs, warnings, and other various "messages" that no one in public will ever look at them. We are so deluged with the warnings, messages, and reminders that we tune them out the same way we do commericals on TV - you simply have no choice.

Finally, nine consumers out of 10 don't know HDMI from component to DVI. They expect to be able to purchase a TV system and get a great picture - or purchase a computer and watch their movie. They aren't going to understand that if that particular media has a particular label on it then they need a specific DVD-rom drive, cable, monitor/lcd, etc for the anti-copying quality degradation to be prevented.

They need to do the smart thing. Ignore Vista. Stop buying movies and CD's. Stop going to the movies. Teach these people that they don't own you - it's the other way around.
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