Microsoft Vista DRM is Scary

Just ran across a report on MS Vista’s DRM and content protection system by Peter Gutmann at the University of Auckland (read entire report here). What I read was pretty scary if it is true. The most troubling is that Vista supposedly disables technology on a computer to keep “premium content” (i.e., HD, Blue-ray, etc) from being played on a computer powered by MS Vista. An excerpt from the report:

Disabling of Functionality

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 [Note D]. 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. 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 addition to the disabling of “premium content”, it appears that other strange things are occuring in Vista. A few examples:

  • Elimination of Open-source Hardware Support
  • Elimination of Unified Drivers
  • Denial-of-Service via Driver Revocation
  • Decreased Playback Quality

If the information is accurate, this is rather short-sighted on Microsoft’s part and somewhat scary. The report lists some fairly well-written sources (including one from hardware vendor ATI) that help to legitimize this report.

Read the entire report here.

[tags] Technology, Microsoft Vista, Vista Problems, Vista [/tags]

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