Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wanna know why Vista took so long and will cost so much?

If you do then you should read this article about the Cost analysis of Windows Vista Copy protection. You'll find the article at :

http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

Here's the 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.”

It would seem that Microsoft has spent a hell of a lot of time and effort basically trying to appease Hollywood, who fear their “content” being stolen. The article details how the Vista will be slower and less stable for all users with “features” designed to prevent copying by a small minority. Such “features” also appear to have wide ranging effects on the whole PC industry with providers of accessories, such as graphics cards, will need to comply with these “murky” standards to get their equipment working in Vista PC's.

The scarey part appears to be the fact that Vista will disable or degregate an interface (say video output) if it senses premium output. So let's say that you are working on a spreadsheet while trying to watch a HD movie. If Vista doesn't like the HD movie then guess what the whole screen may go blank as the interface is shutdown. The other interesting “feature” is the inclusion of “tilt bits”. “Tilt bits” monitor the bus for “abnormal activity” and if detected shut down the bus. This is supposed to prevent people inserting equipment in PC to by pass software protection.

We highly recommend you read the article (which has much better explanations and details) and decide for yourself. The more you start to look at what is presented here the more you see how running Vista could be a problem. What we want to know is why the hell didn't Microsoft put all this time and effort into adding the features they initially said they would or improving security. Instead we potentially have an operating system with inclusions for a very small minority of the population but with ramifications that could affect the whole industry.