21 March 2007

The longest suicide note in history?

Peter Gutman is a researcher at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, working on the design and analysis of cryptographic security architectures. He helped to write the PGP encryption program and has authored a number of papers on security and encryption. Most of his time is taken up with development and support of the open source cryptlib security toolkit. He has exposure to industry practices and trends and says that his background is a 50/50 mix of industry and academia.

That's all a bit serious which seems only right since Mr Gutman is a person with bottom. Serious he may be, but he can write exceedingly amusingly and at length about the failures of Vista as an attempt in managing Digital Rights. Like many people, I had heard the disasters about people not being able to play their properly licensed HD material on their new high-end HD kit, but Peter Gutman makes a compelling case that the concepts within Vista are very badly flawed.

This is a long document, but is well worth a read, if you have the time. It shows what can happen if suppliers ignore what consumers might actually want to do with the hardware they buy. Here are a few nuggets:
  • At 44 pages, Microsoft's “Output Content Protection and Windows Vista” document may well be the longest suicide note in history.
  • ... in order to work, Vista's content protection must be able to violate the laws of physics, something that's unlikely to happen no matter how much the content industry wishes that it were possible ...
  • ... Windows content protection will make your hardware more expensive, less reliable, more difficult to program for, more difficult to support, more vulnerable to hostile code, and with more compatibility problems ...

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