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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:32 PM   #1
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Grim analysis of Vista performance due to built-in DRM

"A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection"
http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut00...ista_cost.html

This article by a respected computer security expert made a lot of people angry for good reason.

Please, before even beginning to plan do real work under Vista be sure and read the article linked above. If the article is too long for you, there's a podcast interview with the author at http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect..../sn/SN-074.mp3

The summary omits specific mention of these fun details: that hardware drivers might well suddenly stop working with regularity as microsoft revokes those drivers, PC graphics subsystems will warm restart for no reason with some regularity, and video software performance will take a substantial hit due to added layers of heavy encryption/decryption and constant polling of hardware.

----------------
"A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection"
http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut00...ista_cost.html
"Executive Summary

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it's not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista's content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry."

Last edited by Shayne Weyker; July 6th, 2007 at 11:34 PM. Reason: typos
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:18 AM   #2
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This was posted some months ago.

It's very political.

If you are using material without DRM protection, it is of no relevance at all. Vista's DRM processing pipeline only affects protected content.

It's also not much different than other current generation OSes.

Microsoft and Apple are compelled to implement such measures if they want to be licensed by the entertainment industry to handle their licensed content.

Last edited by John Miller; July 7th, 2007 at 09:32 PM.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 11:48 AM   #3
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Here's some things I'd be worried about with Vista long term even if I don't use protected content.

* Added expense to user as peripheral cards have to be made non-modular, single-chip, and anti-tampering to satisfy the movie studios and record labels

* Drivers getting revoked by microsoft even because they leak or could leak protected content, even though they work fine as far as the user is concerned

* The possibility for denial of service because someone decides to keep releasing crypto keys for the same device, which would be easy, causing microsoft to revoke that device's driver again and again. See "tilt bits" below for more DoS concerns.

* The need to accommodate the revoking of individual drivers means we will probably go back to separate drivers fore each type of video card or other device.

-------

And here are some concerns that matter even if you only want to use the system for playback of legitimately acquired protected HD video content

* video playback stopping and a graphics subsystem restart because some "tilt-bit" gets set to ON because of some random voltage fluctuation or some peripheral turning on or off.

* Reduction of protected HD video resolution when sent out via analog componenent video, DVI, or HDMI to a non-HDMI display.

* encryption and decryption of protected HD video content and device polling consuming all CPU resources so you can't do anything else in the background during playback

----

Finally I think the author Gutmann is just looking at the costs to the user and security/performance implications pretty fairly. Another respected comp security expert Bruce Schnier backs him up.

If you want to see a political take on the ironically named "Trusted Computing" (written by another computer scientist) which years ago anticipated many of the things Vista does and suggests what might be next, see Ross Anderson's Trusted Computing FAQ: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html

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Old July 7th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #4
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Wow, what a freaky article. No wonder Vista needs such a beefy system to run- its all that DRM stuff that hogs your resources!

There must be something in it for all the outside software and hardware developers that now have to jump through tons of extra hoops to work with Vista. Taking what appears to be a HUGE step backward in regard to drivers must carry some greater reward that the author of that article didn't mention. It could be my own naivety talking, but if I was in business to write drivers for my Z-brand video cards, and after several years spent on R&D for unified drivers only to face the possibility of having to dismantle all of that, I'd be more than a little miffed. I would undoubtedly look for other options.

One thing I do think I like though is the idea of "software as a service". I believe AutoDesk is doing this already with a few of its software titles. The idea of shelling out $500 for an annual subscription to 3DS Max is much more attainable than coughing up the $3500 to purchase it outright in full.

Anyway, it was rather amusing to read through all these horrific problems only to find that somebody managed to crack them within a week's time. I'm curious to see what the future will bring.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 08:24 PM   #5
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Mark my words, VISTA will be the "New Coke" of software for Microsoft.
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Old July 7th, 2007, 08:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
...VISTA will be the "New Coke" of software for Microsoft.
Maybe I didn't pay attention to the right stuff in the past, but I remember people being up in arms and bent out of shape for nearly every new OS Microsoft has released since Windows 95. People would make fun and rant about this bug or that bug, unsupported whatnots and stuff, and then quiet down and accept it after a few months or so. Then, after a couple years had gone by, when enough patches and driver updates had been released to make things almost great, MS would release something new and the whole cycle would repeat.

While I do hope Vista serves as a "New Coke" wakeup call to Microsoft and the general public, I think more and more people are becoming too apathetic and lazy to do anything other than blindly accept it. On one hand, I can understand why- I mean, there's Apple, or there's Linux- and all the caveats that go with those. Microsoft also has the clout and capital to pretty much just sit back and wait it out...

Oh well, someone in a dimly lit bedroom will figure out some sort of patch to bypass anything Microsoft churns out, so I'm not going to get too worried!
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Old July 7th, 2007, 09:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Mark my words, VISTA will be the "New Coke" of software for Microsoft.
I completely agree. I've already siwthced my new Gateway laptop to XP (The Old Coke), overcoming many obstacles to do so.

Vista is a slow and cumbersome OS that inconveniences its users.
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