Why Is Vista Not For Me?

Friday, 2007-February-09 at 19:15

Microsoft spins DRM tale in ‘blog’ See also Microsoft’s suicide note.
Microsoft’s response to a warning about the dangers of the “DRM” infecting Vista is full of double-speak, in which the dangers warned about are dismissed as not important. Your Vista monitor drivers, for example, have the ability to blur the screen or possibly even shut it off in response to power fluctuations that would cause the system to decide you had patched a recorder into the line. Since power supplies are not always stable, some users are likely to lose the use of their monitors through no fault of their own.

About a year ago, I moved into a larger home. This meant that I could once again take my computers out of storage and begin to use them. One of the first ones to come out was an HP Pavillion 503w that was purchased from that-very-large-discount-retailer. (I think that is why the “w” on the end of the model name.) This computer had Windows XP on it and had been in storage over a year.

When I pulled it out, I realized that I would need to install a wireless card in order to connect it to the network. So I did so. Remember that this computer had not even been turned on in over a year. It wouldn’t let me log into Windows, because it had been too long since it had last checked in—the wireless drivers couldn’t be installed because I couldn’t connect to the Internet and I couldn’t connect to the Internet because the wireless drivers had not been installed.

Now, to be sure, I could have carted everything over to the other side of the house and plugged an Ethernet cable in. But this computer only had 128MB of RAM anyway, and it had always taken about 15-20 minutes from power-up to usable. (And to think, I used this computer to do my work in my Master’s Degree program. I cannot understand how I did it, because I would go totally insane these days.) It just wasn’t worth it to me to do the extra work to keep Windows working. (I did call the Genuine Disadvantage number, which gave me a passcode that didn’t work. After a couple of those calls, I knew that Microsoft’s interests and mine were diverging.)

This was not the only system that had similar problems with Genuine Disadvantage.

How does this tie in with Windows Vista? Simple. Technological Usage Restrictions (TUR), or what the corporations like to euphemize as Digital Rights Management (DRM), are the main reason that it took five years to produce the operating system. When I consider that any “content”, including music, videos, software applications, even the operating system itself can be remotely revoked at any time, thanks to the pervasive TUR built into the system, I will not risk my money or data on Vista. Not this year, not next year, not the year after that.

The choices it [Microsoft] presents are DRM infected drivers without better qualitycontrol, or DRM infected drivers with better quality control. Well, ofcourse 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 andbetter quality control. This would lose a lot of code from the driversthat does not benefit you, and only decreases compatibility. The morecode you put in, the more places there are for bugs.

….

Microsoft can’t come clean, can’t talk honestly, and won’t do anythingto protect its customers. Keep that in mind when you are buying yournext PC, if you buy one with Vista pre-installed, you are funding thevery people who are actively hurting you.

What does that mean? It means that usage restrictions are not in your best interests, even though you are the one who pays for the computer and operating system and applications software and music and video. Will some people misuse technology to steal from “content producers”? Sure they will, just as they did in the days of 8-track tapes. But given the fact that technological usage restrictions do not stop thieves, but only make content hard-to-use or even unusable by honest users, it should be a no-brainer to get rid of technological usage restrictions.

The article puts it clearly. On one side are the media companies and Microsoft. On the other side is you and other individual users. For your next computer, buy a Mac or look for a Linux pre-installed computer. Maybe you can buy a computer with no operating system and ask the neighbor’s teen, the same one who fixes your computer now, to set you up with Linux so that it is as easy to use as your current computer. You know that he has to install and configure everything in Windows for you anyway, so why not pay him to install software that is on your side?

Where did this idea that usage restrictions were good come from, anyway? Is the lure of pay-per-play that strong that these big media companies would risk upsetting their core customer base? It must be. In fact, they must have sold The Vole (as one site calls Microsoft) on the same idea. “Get your customers to pay you a small fee for each time they use the software and before you know it, you could be reaping annual recurring revenues without the big hump every two to five years. Smoother, more predictable revenues equals happier shareholders and bigger bonuses for the executives.”

A few years ago, when DVDs were starting to appear in video rental stores, one chain had a scheme where you would rent specially-encoded DVDs and enter a special code into your player. If you couldn’t finish the movie or you wanted to see it again before you turned it in, you could call and use your credit card to get another code. How idiotic and greedy is that? Why pay the same price for each viewing, when you could view it multiple times for the same price. The market quite rightly killed that scheme.

Renting a home is more expensive in the long run than buying it would be. Plus, if you buy it and it needs repairs, you may be able to finance the repairs over time. A renter has to wait until the landlord feels like fixing things. Landlords almost never feel like fixing things, in my experience, unless a city inspector tells them they are about to be prosecuted. And so it is with renting software, video, or music.

I’m slowly converting my existing systems to Linux and BSD operating systems. Two very old systems (one is DOS, the other was originally Win 3.1, upgraded to Win 95) are set to be disposed of this year, making room for the intended purchase of a couple of Macs and a new Linux-powered notebook. Microsoft, it seems, is against individual users, against corporate users, against government users. They are in bed with the Robbers In Adamantium Armor (RIAA) and similar content cartels.

Since I won’t be buying Vista, I also won’t be buying Microsoft’s Office 2007. Even if I went with Windows, their games in the OOXML (ECMA 376) vs. ODF (ISO/IEC 26300:2006) contest would be enough to convince me to use one of the alternative office suites. I believe that it is important for government agencies to maintain the people’s content (data) in non-proprietary, vendor-neutral formats. Anything else is stealing from the people to give excess benefit to some corporation.

Their behavior is convincing proof that “in the long run, the utility of all non-free software approaches zero.”

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