Microsoft: New Windows Will Be DRM Operating System
August 30th, 2005

Boing Boing reports about Microsoft’s new operating system, codenamed “Vista”, and it’s Digital Rights Management features, which reportedly will excercise more control over media on personal computers than ever before.

From Boing Boing:

“Vista” (that’s what Longhorn is called this week), will be designed with extensive countermeasures to prevent the owners of computers from using them in the ways that they want. These computers will be designed to break compatibility with current monitors, analog outputs, and currently shipping software, all to ensure that the restrictions dictated by enterainment companies are obeyed by Windows.

Microsoft is cutting its throat here. There isn’t a single Windows user who wants a version of Windows that lets her do less with her music and movies.

Microsoft is also subverting copyright. Fair use and other public rights in copyright hinge on factors that can’t be modelled in software. For example, people engaged in parody have a lot more flexibility in terms of how they use copyrighted works than people who are engaged in satire. The difference between parody and satire is pretty fine — it’s the kind of thing courts rule on, not the kind of thing that you get a computer to detect.

C|Net also reports:

Hollywood studios didn’t get all the protections they wanted in Vista, and record labels have even seen some of their key concerns about copy-protecting CDs left unaddressed. But the Vista operating system as a whole goes much further than any general-purpose computing platform before it toward addressing content companies’ piracy fears.

Will this realy have an impact on the widespread piracy and trading/sharing of media files that now exists? It remains to be seen.

One of the biggest concerns is in the realm of compatability. More and more consumers are creating digital spaces that incorporate multi-media (audio and video), and more and more businesses are incorporating things like video conferencing. Not to mention the emerging “podcasting” phenomenon. The changes in Windows by Microsoft could ultimately lock some users out of some of these options.


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