VISTA & CONTENT PROTECTION FOLLOWUP

Vista’s implementation of copyright protection for video does its job quietly and effectively. Early claims to the contrary are being debunked.

Let’s be clear. Copyright-protection schemes – “DRM” – are intrusive and unforgivable. You’ll be forced to jump through complicated, frustrating hoops to play high-definition movies on a computer or set up a high-definition TV or DVD player, dealing with acronyms like HDCP and HDMI – and trust me, you’d rather not know about the blur of hardware and cables and incompatible equipment that those acronyms represent. None of this would be necessary in a sane world. Every manufacturer of TVs and DVD players, every OS and software programmer, is struggling with the absurd requirements imposed by the movie and recording industries (and in some cases by the laws they purchased).

There have been claims that Vista implemented those DRM requirements in a particularly evil way, causing Vista to be slow and unstable. Peter Gutmann, a New Zealand professor, wrote a long rant about the problems that might be caused by Vista’s content protection mechanisms. I wrote about his comments here.

Lately the same professor has been touring around, giving speeches and seeking publicity, making even more dramatic claims that Vista’s implementation of DRM will cause 100% CPU utilization and contribute to global warming. (No kidding – global warming!) He’s cited as an “expert” on Vista DRM.

It appears likely that his work is wrong in almost every respect. It’s becoming obvious that he drew his conclusions without ever owning a copy of Vista, based on math that was simply incorrect. None of his claims are being observed in the real world. Two Ziff Davis technical writers have been testing Gutmann’s claims in detail and finding that Vista performs beautifully, with none of the adverse effects that Gutmann predicted. Here’s one of the blog entries that goes into detail about Gutmann’s claims and the real world results; here’s another one that goes further.

At the moment Gutmann has dropped out of sight, claiming he’s “too busy” to respond.

There’s plenty of reasons to hate the paranoid world of DRM-protected media, but Vista has apparently approached it as intelligently as possible.