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just brew it!
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Vista, DRM, and hidden costs

Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:18 pm

A friend forwarded this to me today. I have not tried to independently verify the claims made in this document (I just finished reading it), but it seems plausible.

If indeed true, it raises some interesting (and disturbing) issues.

Bottom line: It looks like there's a lot of crazy sh*t going on under the hood in Vista, just to ensure that DRM can be implemented securely. As a result we as consumers all get to pay more for hardware with lower performance and decreased stability, while non-Vista (e.g. Open Source) solutions are cut completely out of the loop.
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Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:29 pm

Now, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, but I already don't buy the bit about the demise of Unified Driver Architectures. I can accept that vista may require fundamentally different code, but I kind of feel that graphics card manufacturers would be working with microsoft to lessen the effect on their end of things...
Now the resilience issue as well, regarding "tilt bits" seems to be an implementation VS action issue. Ok, so we have a tilt bit set....the article is assuming the OS will immediately take some kind of action on this, which will compromise resiliency. It doesn't seem that we know enough about how this works to jump to that conclusion.

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just brew it!
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Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:40 pm

Yes, I agree it is a distinct possibility that the author of the article is being overly alarmist. But enough of it rings true -- especially given recent behavior of both the entertainment industry and Microsoft itself -- that it makes me wonder.

I can generally spot the paranoid rantings of the tinfoil hat camp from a mile away, and this doesn't seem to fall into that category. :D
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seeker010
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Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:34 pm

well if this is true, coupled with MS' claim that Vista is unpiratable, I think something along these lines might happen

1) russian and chinese hackers break Vista so this will be moot.

2) russian and chinese pirates are stymied by Vista and choose Linux instead. And the grass roots campaign for open source begins :D
 
cass
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Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:36 pm

WTF are you going to open source your hardware from?

Then how are you going to writer open source drivers with no access to specs on how to write them?
 
seeker010
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Sat Dec 23, 2006 11:43 pm

cass wrote:
WTF are you going to open source your hardware from?

Then how are you going to writer open source drivers with no access to specs on how to write them?


a lot of drivers for linux were written with almost no specs anyway. a lot of reverse engineering going on to write quite a few drivers.
 
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:05 am

Charlie at the Inq already complained about it months back. To me, I will just deal with it like so-called "protected CDs": don't play it on the computer! Get a separate player for those crap. There will come a day when a combo player costs like $150 with no region restriction, may be it will also include the Chinese EVD format (the player is probably made in China anyway). This will be the time I get onto this "HD" scene, hopefully by then I can get SED TVs at reasonable prices.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:12 am

seeker010 wrote:
a lot of drivers for linux were written with almost no specs anyway. a lot of reverse engineering going on to write quite a few drivers.

Decent Linux drivers for recent nVidia cards exist only because nVidia provides their own (closed-source) Linux drivers. Decent Linux drivers for recent ATI cards are non-existent. Creative X-Fi soundcards are completely unsupported under Linux, with Creative currently claiming that they will release a (closed source) driver sometime next year. If hardware vendors are required to "lock down" their hardware specs to satisfy Vista's DRM requirements, this will only get worse.

Furthermore, reverse-engineering a driver for a video or audio device now becomes a potential DMCA violation, since it could allow DRM to be bypassed. Seems like a pretty big can of worms to me...
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just brew it!
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:18 am

Flying Fox wrote:
Charlie at the Inq already complained about it months back. To me, I will just deal with it like so-called "protected CDs": don't play it on the computer! Get a separate player for those crap. There will come a day when a combo player costs like $150 with no region restriction, may be it will also include the Chinese EVD format (the player is probably made in China anyway). This will be the time I get onto this "HD" scene, hopefully by then I can get SED TVs at reasonable prices.

The linked article seems to be more about "collateral damage" than about the inability to play protected content on your (Windows-based) PC. It's a different (albeit related) issue.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:34 am

just brew it! wrote:
The linked article seems to be more about "collateral damage" than about the inability to play protected content on your (Windows-based) PC. It's a different (albeit related) issue.
Well, unfortunately only geeks like you and me will care about this "collateral damage". The general public would not quite care and we will be taken along the ride. :-?

If we want to talk about hidden costs, just look at PSUs these days. Instead of $20 PSUs, we are paying upwards of $120 now compared to before. I don't seem to see anyone complaining? Planned obsolescence has been a PITA in the tech world too. But that's another topic for another thread.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:44 am

Looking on it, from what I know of Vista and what I know from the MS people I know about Vista. The author seems to be sitting in his basement and crying of MS. I don´t see how this hold water.

Its like the person simply doesnt even understand it. Take the DRM, that is basicly HD-DVD/Bluray issue. The alternative would just be that windows cant play this. Or that you needed some 3rd party decoder and player that just did the same thing. So basicly he is whining about MS, tho its Sony and the HD-DVD group he should be pointing his fingers at. Its like blaming MS for SecureROM, SafeDisk, Tages and StarForce, just because it runs on the OS. The author dont seem to get the basics about it. Its not like any Linux or *nix flavour would be able to play it without the same DRM anyways. Its easy potshots on MS just because they added support for HD-DVD and Bluray.

The Unified driver is BS too, we even got a single driver from ATI thats both 32 and 64bit. And all the rest of the drivers are like they used to be. In terms of 64bit Vista, its actually an improvement since you dont get crappy drivers on your system. Since they have to pass MS new driver quality program.

Anyway, it looks like its written by a MS hater that dont have a clue :/
Also, did this guy even ever have a job? Maybe its time for him to get out in the real world for once.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:00 am

just brew it! wrote:
If hardware vendors are required to "lock down" their hardware specs to satisfy Vista's DRM requirements, this will only get worse.


ERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You mean that hardware vendors are ALREADY forced to "lock down" due to Sonys and HD-DVD groups DRM requirements. Get your facts straight please. Vista is not the DRM here, its merely DRM compatible if you want to watch those movies.

And if MS said no, do you think it would change anything? No then you would just only be able to watch them with your Cyberlink, PureVideo, WinDVD etc decoder with the same DRM. Or by a another forced product like a Bluray/HD-DVD player.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:21 pm

Every new Windows with a new driver model will incur new development costs. Vista is no different. As for Unified Drivers, well, I can't run the same drives for 9x vs 2K already. So I will need different drivers for Vista already. They can still construct unified drivers for the same family, assuming they read the DRM stuff in hardware anyway.

The article has made it to the Inq though, the reporter did not dare to comment.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:31 pm

seeker010 wrote:
well if this is true, coupled with MS' claim that Vista is unpiratable,


That's a good one....there's already a couple of cracks floating around.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:02 pm

They could claim jesus uses vista yet it doesn't make it true :wink: .
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:56 pm

TheDVDMan wrote:
seeker010 wrote:
well if this is true, coupled with MS' claim that Vista is unpiratable,


That's a good one....there's already a couple of cracks floating around.


People also claimed that the Titanic was unsinkable :lol: .
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seeker010
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 2:56 pm

TheDVDMan wrote:
seeker010 wrote:
well if this is true, coupled with MS' claim that Vista is unpiratable,


That's a good one....there's already a couple of cracks floating around.


there are only two methods I'm aware of. and one has already been patched by MS.
 
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:04 pm

nVidia has broken they unified driver architecture for Vista with the 8800, but that may be because of the Dx10 hardware. The real hammer blow to Microsoft will come when Dx10 hardware gets fully supported by open source. We can then see the overhead of all that DRM crud in Vista.
 
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:07 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
If we want to talk about hidden costs, just look at PSUs these days. Instead of $20 PSUs, we are paying upwards of $120 now compared to before. I don't seem to see anyone complaining? Planned obsolescence has been a PITA in the tech world too. But that's another topic for another thread.


Hmm... I've never paid $20 for a PSU, because I never wanted a piece of crap that would melt my motherboard. I can remember, ten or so years ago, when a 300W PSU cost multiple hundreds of dollars.

PSUs are cheaper than they've ever been. I think quality has also slipped, except for the over $100 units. But then again, that's always been the case. I can't remember a time in 10+ years when I've trusted a PSU that cost under $100.
 
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:09 pm

Stripe7 wrote:
nVidia has broken they unified driver architecture for Vista with the 8800, but that may be because of the Dx10 hardware. The real hammer blow to Microsoft will come when Dx10 hardware gets fully supported by open source. We can then see the overhead of all that DRM crud in Vista.

No, I think that's because Vista drivers are completely different from drivers for previous OS. They can't use the same driver, or from what I understand, even the same driver installer, with Vista/Longhorn.
 
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 3:29 pm

seeker010 wrote:
cass wrote:
WTF are you going to open source your hardware from?

Then how are you going to writer open source drivers with no access to specs on how to write them?


a lot of drivers for linux were written with almost no specs anyway. a lot of reverse engineering going on to write quite a few drivers.


Thanks JBI for posting that link. It is most illuminating.

This could explain a lot of strange behavior the audio people at work have been experiencing. I'm almost positive some features are active in WinXP already and they're jumping to OS X because of it.

Well, I can see that the Driver Revocation program could possibly be the only glimmer of hope here. If enough hardware is compromised, and enough companies get pissed enough at the cost of constantly producing new drivers, then the grip DRM might be broken.

The article hinted at it, but not definitely stated, but does anybody know if Vista will add DRM to everything it touches, like the Zune?
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:08 pm

The BIG question is, what will you enthusiasts do if Vista proves to be as bad for consumers as this paper makes out? There is allot of wishful thinking when people bring up FOS as an alternative. How many of you will really hold off on making the jump to Vista or choose another OS. Do you think this will scuttle DRM.
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Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:32 pm

For what it's worth, and I think recent comments by BillG support this, Microsoft is only interested in DRM from the profit perspective. I.e. providing a service for the media companies so that the media companies will use MS products to protect their media. Microsoft has no interest in locking you out of your computer for their own means (well, other than potential pirates, of course).

What that means to me is if the backlash is big enough that MS sees a profit downside in onerous DRM restrictions, they will probably push back at the media companies so they can loosen it up somewhat. I believe MS is agnostic in this fight, and only wishes to peddle APIs and services to the most lucrative clients. If heavy DRM gets them media company business, so be it. If it starts costing them on the consumer front, then they'll probably change it.
 
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Re: Vista, DRM, and hidden costs

Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:51 pm

just brew it! wrote:
A friend forwarded this to me today. I have not tried to independently verify the claims made in this document (I just finished reading it), but it seems plausible.

If indeed true, it raises some interesting (and disturbing) issues.

Bottom line: It looks like there's a lot of crazy sh*t going on under the hood in Vista, just to ensure that DRM can be implemented securely. As a result we as consumers all get to pay more for hardware with lower performance and decreased stability, while non-Vista (e.g. Open Source) solutions are cut completely out of the loop.


After reading the report, Windows Vista, more than any other Windows (or Open Source) OS, seems like a big nasty bomb waiting to explode, and sink it's 'owners'.

I've been reading some of the comments on this topic and if people don't know who Peter Gutmann is, they should read up and perhaps learn what it really takes to securely wipe a HD, for one example. Most people think DoD and other 'standards' are good. They don't have a clue.

I don't see how any real gamer would buy Windows Vista, except as an 'experiment'. It's been exposed as a convoluted mess even worse that anyone originally thought. Why ANYONE would actually use Vista in a corporate, or worse, MEDICAL environment after seeing how Vista content protection actually 'works'(?), is beyond me. As I wrote in a prior post, the term "abysmally stupid" comes to mind when referencing Vista's implementation of 'security' and 'content protection'. The term "abyssmally ignorant" might be more accurate for those who don't, but could know what really goes on under the hood.

That article is major news, and exposes what hardware manufacturers are having to go through to support Vista. As it says in the article, MS seems more concerned with content protection, than it does with the security of user's private information. The convoluted mess made of the OS because of 'content protection', is simply amazing.

Vista looks like a hackers dream, and it seems to me that time bomb has now started ticking.

I won't use it, recommend it, or buy it, if i can help it.

(Author edited for content, spelling and grammar, barely)
 
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Mon Dec 25, 2006 5:30 pm

Ha! I was discussing this with the wife, and she so eloquently explained it to me: "Ah, so Vista isn't a new operating system for us, but a new operating system for the RIAA!"

Ah... it's making me all googley-eyed...
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Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
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Tue Dec 26, 2006 7:55 am

:o

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. In other words if you've invested a pile of money into a high-end audio setup fed from a 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.


Alright, WHO really want to buy Vista, for ****'s sake?
 
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Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:02 am

Ok, I got alittle joke here. How many clueless people does it take to figure out a DRM schema?

Well, back to earth. For those that haven´t figured it out yet. Vista just SUPPORTS the DRM. It wont enforce it or add anything new. Vista in itself don´t hold the DRM, drivers do.

Also think of the alternative. Its not like Sony or HD-DVD group will suddenly change. If you want to watch those movies with the DRM on the discs. You end up with 2 options. Crack it or buy an external Bluray/HD-DVD player. Or the 3rd option, use Vista with a set of supporting drivers from nVidia/ATI and a decoder from Cyberlink, InterVideo, nVidia etc.
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Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
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Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:13 am

Shintai wrote:
Vista in itself don´t hold the DRM, drivers do.

..................................................................................

Or the 3rd option, use Vista with a set of supporting drivers from nVidia/ATI


But, but....

Denial-of-Service via Driver Revocation


Once a weakness is found in a particular driver or device, that driver will have its signature revoked by Microsoft, which means that it will cease to function (details on this are a bit vague here, presumably some minimum functionality like generic 640x480 VGA support will still be available in order for the system to boot). This means that a report of a compromise of a particular driver or device will cause all support for that device worldwide to be turned off until a fix can be found. Again, details are sketchy, but if it's a device problem then presumably the device turns into a paperweight once it's revoked. If it's an older device for which the vendor isn't interested in rewriting their drivers (and in the fast-moving hardware market most devices enter "legacy" status within a year of two of their replacement models becoming available), all devices of that type worldwide become permanently unusable.


The threat of driver revocation is the ultimate nuclear option, the crack of the commissars' pistols reminding the faithful of their duty [Note B]. The exact details of the hammer that vendors will be hit with is buried in confidential licensing agreements, but I've heard mention of multimillion dollar fines and embargoes on further shipment of devices alongside the driver revocation mentioned above.
 
Shintai
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Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:23 am

I think he completely misunderstod the driver issue...Also the only reason MS wants signed drivers for Vista is so you cant sneak in Tages, Starforce or perhaps some virus drivers. Aswell as demanding a certain level of quality from the drivers.
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accord1999
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Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:01 am

Disabling of Functionality
This functionality has never existed. You can't playback protected audio on S/PDIF on any hardware, computer or HT, that doesn't want to playback on S/PDIF like DVD-Audio, SACD or the new Dolby/DTS codecs. And the HDCP requirement is now enforced on HD cable boxes, etc.

Decreased Playback Quality
Happens when you playback protected media without the proper hardware support and software support. Doesn't happen with unprotected media or normal desktop usage or games.

Consider a
medical IT worker who's using a medical imaging PC while listening to
audio/video played back by the computer (the CDROM drives installed in
workplace PCs inevitably spend most of their working lives playing music or
MP3 CDs to drown out workplace noise). If there's any premium content present
in there, the image will be subtly altered by Vista's content protection,
potentially creating exactly the life-threatening situation that the medical
industry has worked so hard to avoid. The scary thing is that there's no easy
way around this - Vista will silently modify displayed content under certain
(almost impossible-to-predict in advance) situations discernable only to
Vista's built-in content-protection subsystem [Note E].

Not as scary as somebody making such a lame example. The image degradation would only occur if the medical image is somehow inside a protected media file.

Elimination of Unified Drivers
Most drivers seem to me are merely just a single driver package that contains a number of drivers for different family of hardware for convenience.

Denial-of-Service via Driver Revocation
Isn't this the HDCP key revocation functionality, which allows illegal and compromised keys to be blocked from playing protected content? It won't affect the device's ability to do everything else and that will only happen if your vendor screws up and gets their keys stolen (like Xing and CSS).

Unnecessary CPU Resource Consumption
I haven't seen any impact on CPU performance while running Vista when not using protected media.

In addition to the CPU costs, the desire to render data inaccessible at any
level means that video decompression can't be done in the CPU any more, since
there isn't sufficient CPU power available to both decompress the video and
encrypt the resulting uncompressed data stream to the video card.


A reasonably powerful CPU can decompress protect HD media.

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2886&p=4
http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2890&p=4

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