(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Carlo Longino

Microsoft Announces Yet Another DRM Nobody Really Wants

from the snorrrrre dept

Despite Bill Gates' supposed lack of fondness for DRM, Microsoft continues to build copy-protection technology that might mollify content providers, but doesn't really do much for end users. A few years ago, it released its PlaysForSure system, which it licensed to a number of device manufacturers and was supposed to ensure that compatible content could be played across a bunch of devices. Like most DRM schemes, it was broken when its subscription features were cracked, and Microsoft eventually moved away from it, choosing not even to support it in its Zune media device. But the company has now announced a new DRM system aimed at mobile phones to annoy users and restrict what they can do with legitimately purchased content. Called PlayReady (they're getting creative), the platform-agnostic technology supports the use of "domains," which will supposedly allow users to copy content to multiple registered devices they own -- but, of course, it will be limited by who sold them the content and who controls it. The company notes that so far, PlayReady is just a "foundation technology," but hopes to roll it out in a product sometime in the first half of the year, and it's already garnered the support of several mobile operators for it. Of course, while the company says that it will allow users to put content on multiple devices, it will be rather difficult to get many old devices they already own to support this new flavor of DRM, rather undermining that claim.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:19am

    Microsoft is gay

    Microsoft sucks at compatable cotent.. My xbox 360 wont even detect my roomates zune, but i can access my ipod through it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:51am

    Re: Microsoft is gay

    For that matter, Microsoft sucks at just about everthing. They have yet to release any hardware or software with which I am satisfied.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 8:57am

    This wont work either...

    While Bill Gates may run like a girl I dont think thats enough to call a married man with kids gay.

    Since I don't believe that a company should have the rights of an individual, I wont say whether or not the "company" can be gay.

    Back on topic, This DRM scheme (or should I say schema?) will be a miserable failure AND THATS A GOOD THING.

    We need more DRM strategies to become horrid miserable failures in the eyes of the consumer so they will stop "voting for drm with their dollars". Just be happy you are enlightened enough to not be the example for others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    kurttrail, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 9:38am

    Re: This wont work either...

    Just because a man has a wife and kids isn't enough to say he isn't gay either.

    And I don't believe the person that called MS the Corp gay, meant that MS is homosexual. Just a little kid calling things he doesn't like "Gay."

    As for DRM, it doesn't and will never stop REAL piracy, and it was never meant to. It is a means of control over the paying public by the content fascists.

    Before DRM's codification into the law with the DMCA, the content industries had to sue you and win, if they disagreed with your interpretation of "fair use." Now with the DMCA and DRM, the legal burden has been shifted to the consumer. If you don't agree with DRM locking you out of your ability to "fairly use" the content you purchased, you now have to sue them, and since "fair use" is technically a defense to copyright infringement, a court probably is gonna side with the content fascists, since you wouldn't be defending yourself, but suing to break the content fascists' DRM lock out.

    There has yet to be a DRM system that isn't a total piece of useless crap, yet the sheeple keep buying crap with it. You don't ever need to fool all the sheeple all the time, just fooling enough of them to make a profit is quite sufficient.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Buzz, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 9:52am

    money money money

    Microsoft has an infinitely deep wallet keeping it alive. If innovation were really what was required to stay in this market, they would've died a while ago. They just have a dirty grasp on most of the market, so they know they can yank their customers around. What they DON'T realize is that they've finally yanked a bit too hard (*cough* VISTA *cough). I've read dozens of reports of users switching to Mac or Linux. The great migration has begun!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Erv, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 9:56am

    It will be hacked

    No matter what Billy does with DRM it will be hacked

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ted Stickle, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:04am

    Bumbling old fool is gay

    Not that there's anything wrong with it...

    This is just another MS DRM will be cracked the second it hits a consumer electronic. Also, following their astonishing success of de-throning the iPod, their no "iPhone killer" phone will meet similar success after being strapped with Zune like flexibility and PlayReady content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    suezz, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:05am


    here is a thought - how about putting all this time and money into your os - i.e like rewriting it from scratch - it is broken and beyond repair.

    but no they just keep on finding ways to force people into using their crap software.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Mike, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: This wont work either...

    Bill Gates isn't cool enough to be gay. Could you imagine him dancing to techno in a tank top with a hard hat on?

    ...sorry to ruin your day with that mental image

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    KB, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:32am

    Calling someone that you don't like 'Gay' just because you can't come up with anything more original, is just plain sad. Quit being such a faggot and come up with something worth reading....

    DRM is dumber than a Bush family reunion. Why do they persist? Instead of wasting millions of dollars worth of entertainment for hackers and crackers, why not find ways of making your product cheaper? I'm sure economically, higher sales, not fewer, makes more sense? Maybe I'm missing something??? Maybe I'm just gay.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    uh huh..., Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:46am


    wow. so so so irrelevant and also nonsensical -
    "Calling someone that you don't like 'Gay' just because you can't come up with anything more original, is just plain sad. Quit being such a faggot and come up with something worth reading...."

    You just did what you said not to do!!! (gay and faggot are both used as derogatory terms for homosexuals.) You freaking frenchman! oh wait... I think frenchmen are homosexuals...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    zcat, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 10:50am

    English, a living language...

    Back when I was a kid (and for many years before I was born) "gay" meant happy and/or brightly coloured. Windows XP would have been described as gay. And Steve Ballmer when he's doing the monkey-boy dance.

    Not long after the word gay came to mean homosexual. This wasn't a particularly natural progression of the English language, the homosexual community wanted a more positive label for themselves if I recall correctly, and took the word by force.

    There are no doubt a number of homosexual employees in Microsoft but I don't think that makes the company gay as a whole. I'm fairly sure that Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer are not gay.

    Today it seems the meaning of the word has changed, or is at least in the process of changing, again. Gay now means sad and pathetic; almost the exact opposite of the meaning it had a little over thirty years ago.

    By that meaning Microsoft is still not gay, but many of their products and all of their various incompatable DRM schemes most certainly are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Alex Hagen, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 12:05pm


    "You just did what you said not to do!!!"

    Hear that sound? It's sarcasm going right over your head.

    Anyway, I still think it is a bit early to call all DRM inherently crackable. The problem is that every DRM system created so far has been designed by idiots. DVDs, Itunes, WMVs; all had encryption systems that were just plain weak. AACS is a better system, and while some keys have been cracked, they designed the system with such an eventuality in mind. We shell see if it can handle the amount of attacks being thrown at it or not.

    If it is cracked, the entertainment/computer industry will figure out how and make a new system. And with MS and Intel locking down entire computer systems, they might eventually succeed.

    As for Vista, I think MS is out of ideas. MS has always been way ahead of the curve in terms of the combination of usability and technical expertise (And frankly, Apple fanboys, I don't want to hear your rebuttal). With Vista it seems they have nothing more to add to the party, and it will be interesting if Linux can finally catch up. I refuse to install Vista for now, because of the DRM (and the uselessness, and the incompatibility, and other reasons), and am switching more to Linux. But I am a geek and I still find Linux maddening difficult. If Linux can capture the newbie non-geek interest, it does have a lot of advantages that might finally put them ahead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    UniBoy, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    Hey, all you homos!

    Secure DRM is NOT possible.

    1. All DRM systems rely on symmetric encryption to secure the content. The key must be symmetric because the decryption has to happen over a lot of data in real-time.
    2. So, Joe User, in order to play back his DRM content, must have access to this secret key. It may be "hidden" from him, but it is on his system, somewhere.
    3. Once Joe Hacker locates the secret key that has to be on the system in order for DRM to work, then the gig is up (at least for that particular piece of content).

    So, DRM is weak, and creating a brain-dead hack of it is always a trivial exercise. The only question is whether or not people see the content as being worth all the trouble.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 12:55pm

    There are too many MS haters out there that would love nothing better to do than undo their work. Same can be said of any form of DRM. When you have a few hundred (probably much more, but even this small ammount is sufficient) working to get around something you'll find a new route, or build one.

    And as for the whole gay thing, in all honesty 'gay' on the internet translates to 'lame' and has nothing to do with homosexuals. Seeing as they stole the word and made it mean something else there isnt anything wrong with this, if they take offense then they just really want to be the victim in an 'homophobe' lawsuit so they can either get money or be really proud gay heroes that stood up for their right to piddle whomever they want.

    More power to them, but sometimes people need to just lighten the hell up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 5:46pm


    What is ironic in post #1 is that the Xbox will communicate witht eh iPod but not the Zune, even though a few years ago, M$ had the repulation of producing a system which will work equally well with anything (i.e barely), but Apple produced products which will communicate with only aplle products, and nothing else produced by humans (think of the alien spaceship in Independence Day). Now Aplle have produced something which is almost normal in behaviour, and will communicate wiht most computes provided you use specilaised applications, but M$'s version is incompatible even wiht thier own devices. Stupid, but there you are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Feb 14th, 2007 @ 6:08am

    Re: This wont work either...

    Maybe he meant "gay" as in "happy"...happy about this new DRM scheme that nobody wants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Feb 14th, 2007 @ 6:10am

    Re: wow

    Maybe he meant "faggot" as "a bundle of sticks and branches bound together."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Feb 14th, 2007 @ 6:17am


    Hear, hear!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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