May 26, 2024

Hollywood Controlling Parts of Windows Vista Design

A recent white paper (2MB Word file) from Microsoft details the planned “output content protection” in the upcoming Windows Vista (previously known as Longhorn) operating system product. It’s a remarkable document, illustrating the real costs of Hollywood’s quest to redesign the PC’s video hardware and software.

The document reveals that movie studios will have explicit veto power over what is included in some parts of Vista. For example, pages 22-24 describe the “High Bandwidth Cipher” which will be used to encrypt video data is it passes across the PC’s internal PCIe bus. Hollywood will allow the use of the AES cipher, but many PCs won’t be able to run AES fast enough, leading to stutter in the video. People are free to design their own ciphers, but they must go through an approval process before being included in Windows Vista. The second criterion for acceptance is this:

Content industry acceptance
The evidence must be presented to Hollywood and other content owners, and they must agree that it provides the required level of security. Written proof from at least three of the major Hollywood studios is required.

The document also describes how rational designs are made more expensive and complicated, or ruled out entirely, by the “robustness” rules Hollywood is demanding. Here’s an example, from page 27:

Given the data throughput possible with PCIe, there is a new class of discrete graphics cards that, to reduce costs, do not have much memory on the board. They use system memory accessed over the PCIe bus.

In the limit, this lack of local memory means that, for example, to decode, de-interlace, and render a frame of HD may require that an HD frame be sent backward and forward over the PCIe bus many times – it could be as many as 10 times.

The frames of premium content are required to be [encrypted] as they pass over the PCIe bus to system memory, and decrypted when they safely return to the graphics chip. It is the responsibility of the graphics chip to perform the encryption and decryption.

Depending on the hardware implementation, the on-chip cipher engine [which wouldn’t be necessary absent the “robustness” requirements] might, or might not, go fast enough to encrypt the 3 GByte/sec (in each direction) memory data bandwidth.

These are just a few examples from a document that describes one compromise after another, in which performance, cost, and flexibility are sacrificed in a futile effort to prevent video content from leaking to the darknet. And the cost is high. As just one example, nearly all of us will have to discard our PC’s monitors and buy new ones to take advantage of new features that Microsoft could provide – more easily and at lower cost – on our existing monitors, if Hollywood would only allow it.

There can be little doubt that Microsoft is doing this because Hollywood demands it; and there won’t be much doubt among independent security experts that none of these compromises will make a dent in the availability of infringing video online. Law-abiding people will be paying more for PCs, and doing less with them, because of the Hollywood-decreed micromanagement of graphics system design.


  1. Hollywoody says

    I have to question the part about three Hollywood studios having to approve the standard. Are porn studios included? I mean they are in Hhollywood, right? They are major producers of movies, right? Are they too getting a right to dicktate what security is acceptable for the riser (video) card I can stick in my expansion slot? (Sorry, couldn’t help the pun-porn humor)

  2. Kane Kirby says

    It has been said perviously, can everyone say Monopoly.

    The “Content Protection” features that have been inculded not only in Vista but the set-top boxes, is nothing more than a move to control the market and prevernt inovation in the industry.

    As a final note, this “Protection” will do nothing to stop the piracy of content.

    “Where the is a will there is a way!” – And there is a great will.

    “Everything comes to a end” – Which is just where this “Protection” is heading.

  3. You didn’t go far enough in your article re Vista and the Hollywood connection, because in trying to appease H’wood when a new purchaser clicks the “I accept” box, they will be allowing Vista to wrestle control of the “user experience” from the user. Simply put, the fine print in the agreement includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the softward in your computer and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user’s knowledge. Is that legal? We are talking loss of consumer control over their own personal computers, who ever heard of that before? And by clicking on the “I accept” box we are giving them our blessing to say what we can and cannot have on our computer. Scarey, even our government would be afraid to try and get away with that one.

  4. Here in Europe Vista will certainly be blocked from institutional and corporate use since it will compromise information security. Homeland security – for whom?! American view of the world!! With Windows own firewall and protection system, security personnel in government and corporations can say goodbye to security. Nay – Vista will not replace XP, it is more probable replaced by Linux and will speed development of first grade programs for this platform.

  5. go linux and let every know that you want to take back your computers microsoft is trying to defeat linux by using drm because they cant beat them with a better OS and apple will stay onboard with microsoft as long as possible but in the end they will lose too hardware vendors should opt out and give their drivers to linux and let microsft fall by the wayside where it is headed anyways

  6. ^^^^^^^^^^^damn strait, FUCK those fucking money hungry hollywood fucks. The world would be a better place without out them. May they rot in hell.

  7. At the moment it is generally less work to go out and buy content then it is to pirate it. With this HDCP system in place, that will no longer be the case.

    Like the unfair restrictions placed on audio CDs with new protection schemes (unable to back up a CD or copy songs to an MP3 player), the HDCP scheme will serve to make the illegal product the most full featured and least restrictive, and thus the most attractive to the consumer. Add in the expense of buying new equipment to vew the legal content (when existing equipment is perfectly capable) and the performance drain imposed by in-line encryption/decryption and they’ve put out the biggest incentive to piracy yet.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Start your bittorent clients!

  8. I think they will sooner or later have to replace all content which will not play on uncontroled hardware.Doesn’t it work on your equipment?Return it.Won’t they accept it?Threaten to sue them and in the end do it.
    Very simply they can be sued out of existence by good lawyer!

  9. gobblehawk says

    MS is looking for big trouble in Europe. The U.S. may have lost it’s taste
    for antitrust legislation and enforcement, but I guarantee that the Socialists
    in the “old country” have not. . .

  10. Martin Topple says

    Most interesting,
    Presume that Phillips Electonics B.V., Nederland sits back and watches all this with great humour. Having invented the laser disc in the first place and thus quietlyt collecting licence fees from all and sundry (those who claim to have invented the cd/dvd – Now a hollywood studio owner) are just reaming everyone and with the Microdevil (sorry Microsoft) losing
    ground to other operating systems, go linux go!, this is all obviously intercorperate panic setting in. All are involved in something that is in the US supposed to be illegal
    Something about anti-trust laws comes to mind , or maybe monopoly ?, and cartels?.
    We the buyer of the dvd/music cd in the first instance should have the legal right as
    the customer ,who always supposed to be right ,(they forgot that first rule of business)
    to play the contents on any operating system we choose without haveing to ask Microdevil
    or Hollywood (Sony) for their permission . This whole situation displays a good example
    of corperate collusion to control the cost and availability of a products. The oil companies
    may get away with this . But in this area why should we the consumer accept this?

  11. […] ~Joshi38 Subject: Re: Windows Vista!!!!!!!! (#11570091) Date: Jan 5, 2006, 7:20:11 AM [link] [link] Just a couple of things that are wrong with Vista.– My art is my life… or at least an imitation of someone elses. ~article-iv Subject: Re: Windows Vista!!!!!!!! (#11582686) Date: Jan 6, 2006, 12:31:33 AM most of that is just uninformed tech people blowing things out of proportion, like with tpm a few years back. anything else ? […]

  12. […] Hollywood Controlling Parts of Windows Vista Design ★ […]

  13. […] DRM policing? Feel free to sound off.[via Daring Fireball] ReadPermalinkEmail thisLinking BlogsComments[3] […]

  14. Why do people always clamor apple in this regard? apple is WORSE then microsoft when it comes to DRM.

  15. MS may seems to be winning the wars but it in real sense they are losing a battle.

    Well, apart 4rm Vista being too Hardware hungry, it’s Hollywood bug will add more dent on its image. Now MS thnks its a step to nudge Linux out but it will end up increasing Linux market. One thing for sure is that Open Source market always get a better bargain with the media industry than the current bugs presented as copyright-ing.

  16. It looks to me that Microsoft feels like is ready for another try to achieve world domination in the software industry. They have found a way to go around the anti trust lows >:) . Let us hoppe that the people will stand up against this.

  17. I think Vista is gona backfire in Microsofts face if they integrate Hollywoods DRM into the OS. There was a rumor somewhere that Microsoft was gona try to curb piracy of its OS’s and offer Vista for $100. If the DRM is integrated into the OS that would not even be low enough for me to buy it. I’ll stick with Win XP only since all my video games are directX dependent, if not I would switch to a Linux distro. There are so many out there but I have yet to see one that would install similar to Windows and of course have some kind of directX emulator. Again WinXP here I stay!!

  18. oh, good heavens, please delete what I just wrote!!! I forgot to erase the earlier drafts!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  19. I predict that the introduction of DRM-safe monitors will increase consumer confusion in the marketplace and cripple the market for HD monitors, software, and content. People aren’t interested in finding out that the thousands they have already spent in the pursuit of HD sets, or hundreds in the pursuit of high-refresh rate LCD monitors are lost dollars. People are not interested in purchasing “high-quality” video content that they cannot play. The computer obsessed are not impressed by DRM or by stutter in video.

    I’ll also note that there is anectdotal evidence that many people watch standard-def video from DVDs on their HD-capable tv’s and are not aware of the difference between DVD quality video and HD. I suspect that Hollywood is reaching for something that will cause people to replace their DVD collections the way they did their VHS collections. I forsee the lack of affordable playback equipment will mask the increase in evident quality that Hollywood is counting on to sell these new formats.

    limited consumer uptake of hardware will end up weakening the market for HD content that is encrypted in this way.
    Most consumers have not shown interest in purchasing “conventional” HD monitors (TVs), and of those that have, many are not aware that the HD set they are playing DVDs on is not displaying “true” HD.
    The group of consumers most likely to be interested in this content first, the ones who are both wealthy and exacting about video quality will not be interested in video that stutters, particularly if they spent a significant percentage of their income on a new monitor to display it.
    “Conventional” consumers will

    consumer market disaster. Who is going to want to replace their monitor and their computer (and their HD set, should they have one) in order to watch higher-def movies? These are not inconsiderable sums, to replace such things.

  20. I have a solution to this problem: it begins with an ‘A’ and lives in Cupertino!

  21. I installed Vista Beta and took it off after 1 hour of testing. Why spend money for something that is worse then the previous OS? Got Novel Linux Desktop (SUZE), its free, stable fast and can run almost all windows program with a 3rd party emulator. I also ran some MAC app. on it! Vista also wont let you block a list of selective IP range/filter efficiently, what a firewall!

    Yes it’s allready time to say “Hasta La Vista”

    If you did not know Hollywood allready spies on you if you are using WMP 10 and let it have access to the internet!

  22. Yeah sure go to apple, why not go from one corp to another, that is just as likely to add DRM? Go Linux? Not friendly enough?
    If you have trouble installing and using this Linux os, all I can say is yikes 😉

  23. HAHAHAHAHA…. see ya suckers! Apple here I come.

  24. Kee: The real reason that Microsoft won’t push back on Hollywood is that content protection is in their own interest. It locks Linux out of the consumer products business–an industry where Linux has been making inroads. It also makes life more difficult for Apple (although Apple’s move to Intel-based boxes will help).

    This is spot on except for the Apple bit. You can expect that Apple will jump through exactly the same hoops in Intel OSX. In fact more so because Apple is seriously into the content distribution business now. And both of them need Intel’s help to implement all this. So what we have is a loose technological cartel using and being used by an entertainment cartel with both of them using government to back up their position via protection laws ranging from DMCA to ridiculous copyright terms. And all in order to prop up outmoded business models.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  25. Windows Vista under control of Hollywood

    The DRM (digital rights management) technology to be included in Microsoft’s Windows Vista is set to give Hollywood movie studios unprecedented level of control over consumers’ PCs, according to a Microsoft white paper.

  26. It is interesting that the document refers to Vista’s virtue in obeying “business rules” three times, but not once to the the virtue of obeying copyright laws (except in the initial warning that the white paper itself is copyrighted). Back in the old days, the concern was copyright protection. Today, copyright protection is just a buzz-word for an excuse to impose business model protection. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s antitrust lawyers appear not to have been consulted. The need for approval from at least three studios suggests, in effect, a group boycott of any technology that does not meet with the approval of at least three. If this studio certification of meeting the “required level of security” is limited to security in the sense of copyright protection, it might withstand antitrust scrutiny. But to the degree that the boycott is based only on failure to meet the “required level of security” to protect “business rules” that may in themselves be anticompetitive (such as rules that eliminate the resale, lending or trade of perfectly legal copies), or otherwise to enlarge the scope of the copyright owners’ control beyond the bounds of the exclusive rights conferred by Congress, it amounts to an agreement in restraint of trade. They should all tread carefully.

  27. “There can be little doubt that Microsoft is doing this because Hollywood demands it”

    Actually I disagree. If Microsoft declined to do it, the industry would have to give in to Microsoft, because they dominate the PC market. In theory the industry could just say, “fine, it only works on non-PC consumer products”, but in practice that line is already broken. Too many consumer products have Windows under the hood.

    The real reason that Microsoft won’t push back on Hollywood is that content protection is in their own interest. It locks Linux out of the consumer products business–an industry where Linux has been making inroads. It also makes life more difficult for Apple (although Apple’s move to Intel-based boxes will help).

    Hollywood and Microsoft both gain from content protection. The loss is to the consumer (to some degree) and to the creative consumer (Apple’s market) big time.

  28. Just can say …

    Hasta la VISTA … Baby !

    That´s death sentence for M$ and “Holywood” …

    Got XpPro … will be my last M$ OS … bye bye

    TCPA inside the Processor is the declaration of War against Freedom itself !

    Industry cant fight against millions of user … Will be the Vietnam of hollywood … 😀

    Never surrender

  29. Fitch

    I agree with your statement, but not the imagery.
    Linux Users == Gamboling Lambs ???

    This might confuse those who view
    M$ Dependers == Lambs to the slaughter ;^)

    An observation on software (artistic or technical) protection:

    Over the past 30 years I have noticed a fairly strong inverse correlation between the quality of the product and the desire to protect the software from the end user (as opposed to commercial piracy). First computer software, and now music and the visual arts.

    Being a left brain I am not comfortable with making diagnoses as to the causes of such phenomena, but there truly seems to be more than bit of pathology and/or fraud involved.

    Hollywood and the music industry are producing absolute trash that not even a marketer can truly love. They have little to offer, other than a pretense that their product (I can’t call it art) is valuable. This entire “We have to protect our sooo valuable products” routine is one way to generate perceived value, but the consequences to the rest of us are severe.

  30. On the issue of existing laws preventing this kind of thing, remember this: The kind folks in the entertainment industry are buying themselves a similar level of control in government (e.g. Orrin Hatch).

  31. Isn’t it time to drop the polite fiction that MSFT and other incumbent IT and CE vendors are only doing DRM because of big, bad Hollywood?

    If the vendors wanted a customer-friendly entertainment industry, they could start one, fund some new hits, make enough money to buy the back catalogs, and be done with it. But having “Hollywood” clamoring for harsh DRM (based on technical facts from the IT industry) actually helps the current market leaders.

    With DRM, MSFT and Apple can keep their customers from switching back and forth (or maybe to Linux), and CE vendors can’t lock out $39 Chinese DVD players, but can at least collect a tax on them.

  32. fair abuse………
    It seems like hollywood really has it in for linux, but I think that the enemy of my enemy is my friend mentality will not last for long once market forces get ahold of it. This is a decisive move on Microsoft’s part, and one that could spell the end of their dominance in the home market.

    What will hollywood do with all the dvd players on the planet?

    This is just the opening salvo of the death of content as we know it, and perhaps hollywood as well, since movies are appearing in dvd format months after they are made. does not bode well for anyone, they really are grasping at straws. I’d like to see them take on the Chineese copiers, instead of the American public. But I guess we have the money, for now.

  33. Why would Microsoft bow to Hollywood? Because by doing so, Microsoft gains Hollywood’s cooperation in offering users a choice of three options:

    1. Buy Microsoft’s products;
    2. Don’t watch Hollywood movies; or
    3. Be sued.

    That’s a pretty sweet deal for Microsoft, and much more valuable than taking a stand on a principle they never stood for anyway.

  34. Bill Tedeski says

    The reason Microsoft would go along with this is to make it harder if not impossable for Linux to play the content.

    MS wiill of couse patent the H… out of this.

  35. Irving Reid says

    It’s starting to sound like there is a cartel trying to restrict markets. At what point does this run afoul of existing restraint-of-trade laws?

  36. Windows Vista? And what a vista! All you see as you look around your garden is a 60foot high brick wall.

    If you scaled such a wall and looked outside, you’d see millions of gambolling Linux lambs enjoying unencombered video throughout the vast Creative Commons…

  37. I find it shocking that Microsoft, with all its money and power, is allowing Hollywood to design its OS. Copyright history is filled with examples of companies standing up to the status quo and creating new markets. For example, player piano scrolls, radio, cable TV. In each of these a company came up with a new way to distribute information, stood its ground, a compromise was reached, and we all benefited.

    Why isn’t Microsoft standing its ground? Why does Microsoft always put its consumers last?