Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Windows 7 DRM edition

And now back to our favourite sport, Microsoft bashing. Slashdot reports some unnerving built-in features in the new MS operating system:

"That Photoshop stopped functioning after we messed with one of its nag DLLs was not so much a surprise, but what was a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to insert themselves stealthily into your firewall exception list. Further, that the OS allows large software vendors to penetrate your machine. Even further, that that permission is responsible for disabling of a program based on a modified DLL. And then finding that the OS even after reboot has locked you out of your own Local Settings folder; has denied you permission to move or delete the modified DLL; and refuses to allow the replacement of the Local Settings folder after it is unlocked with Unlocker to move it to the Desktop for examination (where it also denies you entry to your own folder). Setting permissions to 'allow everyone' was disabled!"
Microsoft seems determined not to learn the lessons from Windows Vista. One of the reasons why Vista was such a dud was because it had a complex and draconian built-in DRM systems that meant a driver shortage, as well as being resource-heavy. Peter Gutmann published an excellent paper in 2007 unearthing Microsoft's flawed strategy, and he concluded:
"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. [...] To add insult to injury, consider what this enormous but ultimately wasted effort could have been put towards. Microsoft is saying that Vista will be the most secure version of Windows yet, but they've been saying that for every new Windows release since OS security became a selling point. I don't think anyone's under any illusions that Vista PCs won't be crawling with malware shortly after the bad guys get their hands on them (there were already Vista exploits up for sale before the OS even hit the shelves)."
The only lesson Microsoft has learnt is to try to tighten its grip on the media choke-points in order to make it impossible for people to copy video output from the internet, and to allow for an even more draconian grip by software developers. It seems like any modification of software in your computer will become reason for the program to stop working, and there is a visible downgrading in user experience.

In the end users will vote with their wallets. If Windows 7 is just as bad as Vista, then it is possible that it will suffer the same luck. Why should consumers migrate when Windows XP works nicely, and they can do everything they want with their own media?

Or maybe, just maybe, people will actually give up and switch to Linux? Unlikely, but then you could tell people that Kubuntu is actually Windows 7. How would they know?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kubuntu User here.
They'd know by the lack of Control Panel, but I think they'd be a lot happier with Kubuntu as long as all their multimedia programs worked out of the box.

Ubuntu Mint with KDE, for example.