I am breaking my "one-article-a-day" rule of thumb with this but what the hey....
I adore Microsoft most days, honest I do. I use their products and give thanks for their ease of use and systematic standards. I dislike their Blue Screens of Death but these have decreased dramatically over the years and they trouble me infrequently. I even planned on "upgrading" to Vista sometime in the future (perhaps after the first Service Pack release) but this (rather lengthy) article by Peter Gutmann has changed my mind. The major point he highlights is that Vista will allow hardware outputs (the ones incapable of DRM support) to be automatically disabled or degraded when "premium content" is playing. The article is huge but I think a few excerpts are in order :
"On-board graphics create an additional problem in that blocks of precious content will end up stored in system memory, from where they could be paged to disk. In order to avoid this, Vista tags such pages with a special protection bit indicating that they need to be encrypted before being paged out and decrypted again after being paged in. Vista doesn't provide any other pagefile encryption, and will quite happily page banking PINs, credit card details, private, personal data, and other sensitive information, in plaintext. The content-protection requirements make it fairly clear that in Microsoft's eyes a frame of premium content is worth more than (say) a user's medical records or their banking PIN
The high-end graphics and audio market are dominated entirely by gamers, who will do anything to gain the tiniest bit of extra performance... These are people buying $500-$1000 graphics and sound cards for which one single sale brings the device vendors more than the few cents they get from the video/audio portion of an entire roomful of integrated-graphics-and-sound PCs. I wonder how this market segment will react to knowing that their top-of-the-line hardware is being hamstrung by all of the content-protection "features" that Vista hogties
Overall, Vista's content-protection functionality seems like an astonishingly short-sighted piece of engineering, concentrating entirely on content protection with no consideration given to the enormous repercussions of the measures employed. It's something like the PC equivalent of the (hastily dropped) proposal mooted in Europe to put RFID tags into high-value banknotes as an anti-counterfeiting measure, completely ignoring the fact that the major users of this technology would end up being criminals who would use it to remotely identify the most lucrative robbery targets.
Note K: If I do ever want to play back premium content, I'll wait a few years and then buy a $50 Chinese-made set-top player to do it, not a $1000 Windows PC. It's somewhat bizarre that I have to go to Communist China in order to find vendors who actually understand the consumer's needs."
Gutmann is no small-time know-nothing who hates Windows either. Check his home page for the laundry list of his accomplisments in the computer security arena.
It seems to me that Vista and MS are bending over backwards to give the appearance of protecting content so that folks from the RIAA and the MPAA can be told that no one could possibly pirate content that they would never have paid money for in the first place. Of course the actual pirates will hack around these "solutions" in a matter of days or weeks leaving the consumer as the only one hampered by this "protection". An example from Gutmann's article :
"Note C: As an example of an experience that's likely to become commonplace once more "premium content" is rolled out, Roger Strong reports from Canada that "I've just had my first experience with HD content being blocked. I purchased an HP Media Center PC with a built-in HD DVD player, together with a 24" 'high definition' 1920 x 1200 HP flat panel display (HP LP2465). They even included an HD movie, 'The Bourne Supremacy'. Sure enough, the movie won't play because while the video card supports HDCP content protection, the monitor doesn't. (It plays if I connect an old 14" VGA CRT using a DVI-to-VGA connector)".
This sort of thing is far from uncommon with the new generation of Media Center PC's out on the market today which is an unfortunate commentary on the attitudes of the industry. DRM and all of it's attendaent woes tend to restrict only the naware non-techie consumers who have unwittingly bought a piece of hardware that doesn't reside on some Harware Compatibility List and so they cannot play their legally purchased media. The pirate of course is tech savvy and will simply end-run the whole process and enjoy the forbidden fruits.
I for one do not welcome our new DRM overlords and will be sticking to XP until they either fix these isssues with Vista or they simply stop supportig it. Heck it might even drive me to abandon Windows altogether and stick with Open Source or some other OS option. Hopefully someone in MS will buy a clue on this.