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Microsoft spins DRM tale in 'blog'

Rant Rather stomach-churning
Mon Jan 22 2007, 04:30
MICROSOFT HAS JUST made one of the wormiest excuses for an explanation of the Vista DRM infection I have ever read. It is one of the saddest attempts I have ever seen for a lawyer written piece of spin put out as a blog and these things should be content labeled.

Remember the MS suicide note about the DRM infection? Well, Microsoft tries to "refute" that with a stomach-churning piece of spin, but ends up confirming everything. Earlier I said that Vista wasn't for me, and I meant just that, for me, not that it wasn't suitable for everyone. Microsoft's latest piece just convinced me I was wrong, Vista is unsuitable for everyone.

Read this piece on Microsoft's "blog" site, cunningly labled "Windows Vista Content Protection - Twenty Questions (and answers)", and make sure you read the comments fully. Because right now, not a single one agrees with ots take on things, but I am sure the astroturfing will change that.

There are enough problems with this pablum to choke a horse. It is presented as a candid Q&A session with nice people trying to educate you about the goodness that is Vista. Read the Q&A and ask yourself "who the #(&$ talks like that?", I mean when you are talking to your friends, do talk like that? No, but lawyers writing up a carefully crafted piece of spin do. .

But it gets funnier, Microsoft confirms just about every point in the Gutmann pieceand tries to spin it as good. It is one of the most amazing piece of PR weaselwork I have seen for years. Try this one on for size.

Will echo cancellation work less well for premium content?
We believe that Windows Vista provides applications with access to sufficient information to successfully build high quality echo cancellation functionality.

*BLINK* Less well?!?

What a piece of double plus ungood lawyer talk that is, eh? Let's parse that, the question is basically 'does MS break existing and necessary functionality not related to the DRM infection in order to harm the user by removing their rights on other functionality?'

Remember when I said that this wasn't written by humans but by lawyers? Think that question was written by a caring MS employees trying to educate the poor huddled masses, or someone with esquire on their business cards? Moving on to the answer, we find there isn't one. The question is quite simple, it is a yes or no question, will it degrade functionality in order to inflict a DRM infection? Yes or no?

The (lack of) answer is long winded and humorous. It believes that it can be done with the information it provides. It is saying (in)directly that it does break echo cancellation but if you rewrite your software and presumably NDA yourself to the gills, tithe appropriately and sacrifice a goat, you will be handcuffed to the point where you can write something that approximates the pre-DRM infection functionality.

Please be aware that all costs here are not shouldered by Microsoft. This steaming pile of DRM isn't its problem from this point on. If you want your old functionality back, you are more than welcome to pay again and again and again for it. That is until someone somewhere at Microsoft decides to come out with a competing product and break it remotely. Think Zune.

Look at the part about medical imaging. Microsoft says it won't degrade medical imaging. Or will it? "For example, if a user were viewing medical imagery concurrently with playback of video which required image constraint, only the commercial video would be constrained -- not the medical image or other things on the user's desktop."

All is peachy, right? No problem there right? Scroll down to the comment by Panderso:

Since when did you think that DRM would not apply to medical imaging. Speaking as a physician, we ALREADY have this problem. The medical image DICOM format has been split into various flavors by competing software vendors who do their best to make sure that you have to have THEIR viewer in order to see files saved in their version of the format.
Further competing hospitals are choosing not to install viewers that would allow MD's to look at films that were taken at their competition ( or perhaps their IT staff can't be bothered to install them -- either way the result is the same). This proprietary behavior is already hindering patient care.
Vista's enhanced DRM only aggravates this nonsense!!

So, Microsoft isn't screwing you, it has set up enough plausible deniablilty, when you get screwed, it isn't its fault, honest.

Then we go on to some blatant falsehoods in the article. "Contrary to claims made in the paper, the content protection mechanisms do not make Windows Vista PCs less reliable than they would be otherwise - if anything they will have the opposite effect, for example because they will lead to better driver quality control. "

This is known as a false dichotomy. Basically, it presents you with two choices and asks you to pick, not telling you that there are other choices. This is one of the best ways to screw the uninformed, something that Microsoft is banking on with Vista.

The choices it presents are DRM infected drivers without better quality control, or DRM infected drivers with better quality control. Well, of course the better quality control wins, it is better, and you win, right? Well, no, you lose, it just doesn't tell you how you can win.

DRM infections come with a huge amount of code overhead, encryption, phoning home, revocation, and other things that only hurt the user. They are complex, expensive to implement, and only lower compatibility. There is no good for you here.

Microsoft doesn't present you with the choice of no DRM infection and better quality control. This would lose a lot of code from the drivers that does not benefit you, and only decreases compatibility. The more code you put in, the more places there are for bugs.

Think of it this way, if you have 1,000 lines of code, there are 1,000 lines that can be buggy. If you add a 1,000 line DRM infection, there are now 2,000 lines of code that can be buggy. Add that purpose of those 1,000 new lines is to break functionality, not enhance it, and you have a lose/lose situation.

The falsehood? More code can be more reliable than less code. A reliable piece of code is just that, anything added to it can not make it more reliable, only less so. Adding DRM infections is only a loss to the consumer, and there is no way around that one.

Microsoft can't come clean, can't talk honestly, and won't do anything to protect its customers. Keep that in mind when you are buying your next PC, if you buy one with Vista pre-installed, you are funding the very people who are actively hurting you. µ


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