DRM Still Breaking Games Nearly A Decade After Purchase

from the call-it-what-it-really-is:-gaping-security-holes dept

About a month ago, Microsoft's Boris Schneider-Johne explained that -- along with everything else Windows 10 was bringing to the party (privacy invasion, blocking of pirated software) -- it would also be bricking certain paid-for software. Two early -- and much-hated -- forms of DRM just simply didn't play nice with the new operating system: SecuROM and Safedisc.

"Everything that ran in Windows 7 should also run in Windows 10," said Johne, "There are just two silly exceptions: antivirus software, and stuff that’s deeply embedded into the system needs updating—but the developers are on it already—and then there are old games on CD-ROM that have DRM. This DRM stuff is also deeply embedded in your system, and that’s where Windows 10 says, 'Sorry, we cannot allow that, because that would be a possible loophole for computer viruses.' That’s why there are a couple of games from 2003-2008 with SecuROM, etc. that simply don’t run without a no-CD patch or some such."
This was great news for purchasers of these games, who had already been screwed once by the inclusion of DRM. Now, the DRM is considered a security flaw and their older games would no longer be playable on a computer running Windows 10. The purposefully-flawed software "protected" software companies from piracy (well, not really...) but left paying purchasers exposed.

The problem continues. As Microsoft seeks to seal more security holes, it's patching up earlier versions of its OS. So, people using older operating systems -- and playing even older games -- are now going to find their purchased software similarly useless.
A recent security patch released this month, MS15-097 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Graphics Component Could Allow Remote Code Execution, breaks computer games that rely on the DRM system Safedisc on Microsoft's Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating system.

Games that rely on Safedisc include the Age of Empire series, Battlefield 1942, Civilization 3, various Command and Conquer games or Microsoft Flight Simulator. These are all old games released more than 10 years ago but still playable on modern systems.
Microsoft has been so kind as to post a workaround that uses the Command Prompt to open/close the insecure driver to allow the games to be played. This workaround can also be applied permanently, but Microsoft recommends against this because it also re-opens the security hole permanently. And, once again, it's the paying customers who no longer have access -- or at least easy access -- to their purchases.

Now, one could argue that the damage done here is minimal. The games are old and very few Windows users will still be playing them. But justifying DRM by claiming it only affects a small number of people is a pretty terrible argument. No one necessarily expects 10-year-old software to adapt flawlessly to new operating systems, but they don't expect to be completely locked out of their purchases by security updates either.

It's not like purchasers expect this sort of behavior from other products they've purchased. A fifty-year-old book can be read just as easily as one printed last week, no matter how much printing technology has advanced over the past five decades. A board game can still be enjoyed years after its purchase, no matter how much game manufacturers would like you to purchase their newer offerings. Software shouldn't be an exception to the rule. But it is, thanks to DRM.

The fact that these two forms of DRM are considered vulnerabilities by the dominant operating system in the PC market says a lot about the software companies' priorities. It's a short-sighted viewpoint that only considers the first few weeks of sales. Anything these companies can do to protect these is considered excusable, even if it makes paying customers unhappy -- either immediately after their purchase, or several years down the road.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:24am

    Good ol xkcd 488 always pops into my head when I see these stories.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:41am

    The games are old and very few Windows users will still be playing them

    Hmmm, really? That could be the case for crapware out there but GOG (for instance) is there to prove the contrary.

    Fortunately we also have the pirates and eventually emulation (like DOSbox for DOS games) so these owners can rest assured they will be able to play the games they legally played. Thanks to the pirates. Amusing.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:42am

      Re:

      legally purchased*

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      "Hmmm, really? That could be the case for crapware out there but GOG (for instance) is there to prove the contrary."

      Well, it depends on how you define "very few". In terms of the overall Windows install base, they may well be right. Even with GoG it could be argued that most people are playing the newer versions of those games without the DRM rather than the original crippled version.

      But, in terms of overall numbers? There may well be a not insignificant number of people who do indeed want to do this - but, of course, won't know they face this problem until they try launching their legally purchased game on their legally purchased PC. As you say, that's where the pirates come to the rescue, yet again.

      The other thing I'm always wondering about here is how these numbers are accurately tracked. Put simply, of course - they're not. Not every PC used to access older games is even online, and even if it is there's no way of knowing that I've just put in my old disc to play an old game unless it's a game that tries phoning home (to servers that probably no longer exist). Yet, a large proportion of customers will still have the ability to do that, even if the discs do tend to sit in a box most of the time.

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re:

        What's insignificant? Is 8 million people insignificant considering we are 7, 8 billion? It doesn't really matter. The number may be insignificant considering the general population but it's still an issue for those who are being screwed.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 6:58am

    "That’s why there are a couple of games from 2003-2008 with SecuROM, etc. that simply don’t run without a no-CD patch or some such."

    Such things that are handily supplied by the publishers of those games (which, I notice, includes Microsoft) to allow legally paying customers to access what they paid for?

    No, of course not. those things are provided by the pirates, who yet again are the only place to turn when you're openly screwed when you try to do everything legally.

    "No one necessarily expects 10-year-old software to adapt flawlessly to new operating systems, but they don't expect to be completely locked out of their purchases by security updates either."

    In fact - not only do people not necessarily expect it to adapt, they may well pay to be able to access the game again. The reason why GoG is popular is because it allows people to obtain a game that might be difficult or impossible to play on a new system to work with few issues (or even on systems it was never going to work with in the first place - see their many OSX and Linux versions of games that were originally Windows-only)

    But, like the ongoing DLC arguments, it's down to intent. With DLC, it's always down to whether the player feels that the game in question was crippled to allow content to be sold as DLC later, or whether they're apying for extra content that expand a fully fleshed out game.

    The same will go for this kind of thing. If you want me to pay GoG or similar, it has better be because there's some natural reason why it won't work on a new OS, and not because you want to to buy it again without the "you must be a pirate" trap that you inserted in there in the first place. Bear in mind that this DRM was the very reason many people stopped buying these products to begin with.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:54am

      Re:

      Very good points.

      Something I think should be raised with the vendors of the DRMed assets: Since the games are 10 years old, why not release a patch for them so people can use them without the DRM? Problem fixed.

      If they respond with "Sorry, we don't support that software anymore, just run it on an older OS in a VM" -- well, that works, but at that point, someone had better be alerting consumers to the fact that CURRENT games using DLC and DRM are going to end up in the same state. And forcing someone to use an old and insecure OS to run an old game, or to use potentially illegal and malware infected third party patches is not really helping security, is it?

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:10am

        Re: Re:

        "someone had better be alerting consumers to the fact that CURRENT games using DLC and DRM are going to end up in the same state"

        This is done all the time, even here. Not only are they going to end up in the same state, but they will do so sooner.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:16am

    But justifying DRM by claiming it only affects a small number of people is a pretty terrible argument. No one necessarily expects 10-year-old software to adapt flawlessly to new operating systems, but they don't expect to be completely locked out of their purchases by security updates either.


    More to the point perhaps, this vulnerability has been around since Vista, if not before. What if Microsoft had released this fix back in 2007, early in Vista's life? Then it wouldn't be a bunch of old games that didn't work, it'd be a bunch of games that were brand new, or just a year or two old that didn't work.

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:18am

    So DRM stops working when they fix security holes in the OS.

    Anyone still want to tell me I'm wrong when I say DRM is a hacking tool and needs to be legally classified as such?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      More to the point - of the games mentioned, at least Age Of Empires and Flight Simulator were published by Microsoft. If people aren't believing that it's malware, how about an OS provider deciding that software originally provided by one of their own subsidiaries is a high security risk?

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re:

        When MS has poorly architected separation of privileges and other security features that existed since before MS existed, you can go right ahead and argue that Windows is a hacking tool and hacking-ready platform which has allowed the installation (OK, encouraged the very creation, sometimes actively, with instructions and SDKs, of) very badly designed things and intentional malware as well.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:22am

    Funny, i just tried playing an old game a few days ago but it just closed without any message. After a short minute of Google i found out that it used Securom so i didnt even bothered with it.

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

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:33am

    Just say no!

    Just say NO to ANY DRM'd application, game, tool, or whatever. It just isn't worth the pain and suffering it causes. There are often as-good-as or better options out there that are DRM-free. FOSS is better, but that is not always possible, especially on proprietary (closed) systems such as Windows and OSX.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:49am

      Re: Just say no!

      That argument doesn't really work with games, especially those produced at the time in question. Plus, most of the people buying these games would not have known at the time what DRM was and how it would affect them.

      I agree with the sentiment, but this is not a good example to push blame onto the purchaser.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:35am

    sending people that would rather buy their products running straight into the arms of pirates just so they can use the stuff they paid for.

    Great strategy there Microsoft.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:39am

    Different

    I would rather have a computer with more security that still allows me to play the game rather than a computer that is less secure and able to play the game. My computer has way to much important stuff on it such as banking info and porn to risk it over a game. If they disabled it to make more money that is one thing, but this is for protection. As for comparing books and board games to computer programs is sort of short sided and stupid. A book and board game will not open your entire life to the whole planet while a computer will.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:56am

      Re: Different

      "I would rather have a computer with more security that still allows me to play the game rather than a computer that is less secure and able to play the game"

      Others disagree, have other priorities or have separate rigs they would use for games vs work. Should they not be able to make their own choices on the subject?

      "My computer has way to much important stuff on it such as banking info and porn to risk it over a game."

      You risk your porn and banking details in the same place? That's more dangerous than playing some older games, depending on your source.

      "If they disabled it to make more money that is one thing, but this is for protection"

      ...from software they in some cases supplied to begin with. Sorry, no dice. There were other ways to deal with this, and "we're just protecting you" doesn't fly when they've been aware of this problem for a decade.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:31am

        Re: Re: Different

        "If they disabled it to make more money that is one thing, but this is for protection"

        The NSA is spying on you for your protection too.

        Wait, no, also for your porn.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:56am

      Re: Different

      If they disabled it to make more money that is one thing, but this is for protection.



      DRM was initially added for protection as well.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 12:03am

        Re: Re: Different

        "DRM was initially added for protection as well."

        ...and ironically not only did not protect anyone from piracy (and in fact may have encouraged some), but is now the sole reason why their customers are at risk and needing this new protection.

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

    • identicon
      Rich, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:24am

      Re: Different

      You spout off about games making your computer less security, then talk about banking and watch porn on the same computer. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 29 Sep 2015 @ 7:58am

    I like old EA games like BF 1942 and SimCity because new EA games suck and EA execs are asshats with no problem lying to their customers. Why would I want anything to do with them?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:36pm

      Re:

      Well, you wouldn't if the games they sold you weren't infected with DRM that's now considered so dangerous that Microsoft is blocking those games. You don't have anything to do with them any more, yet they're still screwing you on the Battlefield 1942 purchase you made a decade ago - that's the point of the story.

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  • identicon
    Martijn, 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:02am

    So that's why my Far Cry game will install but not launch on Windows 10? I tried running as Admin, Windows 7 and even Win XP SP3 compa modes, nothing works. (It used to run fine on Windows 7)

    I opened a ticket with Ubisoft about my game not working 2 weeks ago and haven't gotten any form of a reply yet.

    I have known for a while now that I should be staying away from Ubisoft, but I did pay for this game years ago when I didn't know. That doesn't mean they should be getting away with this shit.

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

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      So that's why my Far Cry game will install but not launch on Windows 10? I tried running as Admin, Windows 7 and even Win XP SP3 compa modes, nothing works. (It used to run fine on Windows 7)
      I opened a ticket with Ubisoft about my game not working 2 weeks ago and haven't gotten any form of a reply yet.


      Unless whatever game you're requesting help with is less than a year old, no current game publisher wants to bothered fixing problems. The most you'll ever get back is a FAQ page telling you update your graphics and sound drivers and to run a virus scan.

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

      • identicon
        Martijn, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re:

        There might be an easy fix, if my problem is in fact the DRM related one described in this article: They could just award me the game on my Uplay account after all. They already do that with more recent games, but not with old ones. If they would, problem somewhat solved I guess?

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

      • icon
        Atkray (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:25pm

        Re: Re:

        You left out clearing cache & cookies and updating Java.

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

    • identicon
      Rich, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:33am

      Re:

      I remember it was murder getting it work on my Windows 7 system. Do you have the 64-bit patch installed? I also think I may of had to set its processor affinity to 1. It also takes a LONG to get from the init. screen to the game menu. After that, it worked fine. (of course that was Windows 7, not 10).

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

      • identicon
        Martijn, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re:

        I installed a 1.4 cumulative patch which I needed to make it run under Windows 7 64 bit. I actually installed that before running the game. When launching the game, I get the UAC notification saying it's being run with admin rights. After that I don't get anything at all. The process doesn't even show up in task manager, and there are no errors in event viewer.

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

        • identicon
          Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A lot of games that used to work on Win 7 due that now. I think it's part of MS trying to cripple 7 to make you get win 10 out of frustration.

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

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:06am

    I have a simple solution. If you want copyright protection you should be REQUIRED to provide access to the material to legitimate purchasers in perpetuity. At the point you wish to cease to do so you must make the source code available and it becomes fully legal to use that source code to allow other legitimate purchasers to access their purchases.
    The same should be true of all software, keep it available and properly patched or hand the job on to others who will. That has been the rule for all other purchases since time immemorial.

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

    • icon
      John David Galt (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 3:25pm

      Re: Simple Solution

      That would be nice, but it isn't really necessary.

      What we need is to repeal DMCA, or at least revise it so as to re-legalize defeating any so-called DRM which protects "rights" the publisher never really owned in the first place.

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

    • icon
      beltorak (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:55pm

      Re:

      I like Dan Greer's take on that as well, delivered at BlackHat 2014:


      If I abandon a car on the street, someone eventually claims title. If I abandon a bank account, the state takes it. If I abandon real estate, and don't remedy trespass, adverse possession takes over. If I don't use my trademark, the rights go over to those who do. If I abandon my children, then everyone is taxed to remedy my actions. If I abandon a patent application it goes away. If I abandon a storage locker, it ends up on reality TV. You get the idea.

      Apple Computers at 10.5 or less get no updates. Microsoft computers at XP or earlier get no updates. The end of security updates follows abandonment. It is certainly ironic that freshly pirated copies of Windows get security updates that older versions bought legitimately do not.

      Stating to me what is the obvious policy stance:


      If Company X abandons the codebase, then that codebase must become open source.




      I highly recommend the whole video. Although I hotly disagree with his stance on the right to be forgotten, he at least presents a well reasoned argument.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:32am

    SecuROM and Safedisc.

    Honestly, who among you has games using this and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games? Both of those systems have never been known to either work or to be secure in any way. To my knowledge the longest it took to take one of those "systems" apart was 2 weeks. And this was at a time when you had a copy one or two month(s) before release so that means non of those systems worked at all and never worked on release.

    And I'm not saying that you should google "noCd crack gcw" or anything and heck... if I am even saying anything at all... then maybe it is that those systems should not be a concern to a multi-billion dollar company today. If people aren't able to use google then maybe that is a Darwinian problem.

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

    • identicon
      Rikuo, 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:49am

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      "Honestly, who among you has games using this and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games?"

      People who honestly don't know how to do this maybe? Not everyone is technically literate. It is entirely possible that there is somebody out there who bought Age of Empires on CD, still has the discs and wants to play it on the shiny new Win 10 machine that they got for their birthday.

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:26am

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      Honestly, who among you has games using this and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games?

      People who are afraid to catch viruses/trojans since those are often exe files that cannot be properly tested in VMs?

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

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      Honestly, who among you has games using this and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games?

      Finding and using a NoCD crack is beyond the capabilities of most users today.

      I have a friend with a laptop. She had a Yahtzee game installed on her old desktop by a friend who is no longer around. When I was asked to transfer it to a laptop, I found that you could just copy the directory. Recently her boyfriend did something to the laptop (he wasn't sure what) and lost Yahtzee. He wanted me to tell him how to get it back. No problem, just email him the Zip file and tell him to unpack it to the drive and create a shortcut, right? Yeah, sure. Two hours later and he was still no closer to having a working copy of Yahtzee than when he started.

      Forget being able to unpack a Zip file, he wasn't even sure how to download the file from his web-mail, or how to find the file once it was downloaded. And naturally, since MS loves to change things with every new version of Windows, and I don't have Windows 8.1, I couldn't even give him definite directions of what to click on.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:04am

        Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

        1. you should be able to figure out how 8.1 works via google
        2. Darwin... if he can't get it to work tell her that her bf is a bad choice! Give us geeks a chance! You know... give your female friends a good advice... safe a geek! :)

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

        • identicon
          Rekrul, 1 Oct 2015 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

          1. you should be able to figure out how 8.1 works via google

          I'm not about to try and use Google to figure out how to create step-by-step instructions for an OS I've never even used.

          2. Darwin... if he can't get it to work tell her that her bf is a bad choice! Give us geeks a chance! You know... give your female friends a good advice... safe a geek! :)

          Regardless of her choice of boyfriends, he's about representative of the average computer user today. Geeks may find their way to web sites like this, but the average user has a problem just finding their email if the bookmark for Hotmail/Windows Live Mail/Outlook/whatever-the-hell-it's-called-now, gets erased.

          Seriously, tell someone to open a web browser and type www.hotmail.com and you'll get; "Should I click on the top link? It says something about 'sponsored result...'."

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

      • icon
        minijedimaster (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

        You need new friends with better taste in boyfriends

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

    • identicon
      Hawk, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:16am

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      >Honestly, who among you has games using this
      >and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games?

      1. Finding the correct noCD version to the exact patch level and language version of your old game might prove difficult. A noCD patch meant for the 1.0 US version of a game might not work correctly for the 1.6 German version of the same game, for example.

      2. There are no guarantees what other surprises (malware) the cracks may contain. Crack and pirate sites are about as dependable for security as pr0n sites. Even PirateBay has supplied lots of software containing malware added by the seeders.

      3. Even if you find a working noCD for your game, it might still refuse to work. For instance, Flatout (a driving game), which has SafeDisc. Even the CD-free GOG.com version, which already has a noCD crack applied to it, refuses to work with Windows 10 due to SafeDisc. According to GOG.com support, the dependence to the SafeDisc driver is somehow deeply rooted inside the game code, even with a noCD crack.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:09am

        Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

        Answers...
        1. Just google your version
        2. VM or sandbox
        3. You use Win10? Do yourself a favor and get an old win7 key.

        And if you still have problems then just dont search for gamecopyworld becaue that is an evil site and it will give you all kinds of trojans! Especially the worse of all.. the non working kind!

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

        • identicon
          Hawk, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:49pm

          Re: Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

          Answers to your answers:

          >1. Just google your version

          It doesn't help. If you are suggesting that there are working cracks for all language versions and revisions of all old retail games, you are sorely mistaken.

          >2. VM or sandbox

          Games generally run poorly on them. Yes I have tried, VMWare with both Windows XP and 98SE.

          >3. You use Win10? Do yourself a favor and get an old win7 key.

          Too bad the support for Win7 will end much sooner than Windows 7. You could have just as well proposed using Windows XP or 95.

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

          • icon
            ltlw0lf (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 1:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

            >3. You use Win10? Do yourself a favor and get an old win7 key.

            Too bad the support for Win7 will end much sooner than Windows 7. You could have just as well proposed using Windows XP or 95.


            Nevermind the fact that Microsoft is pushing these changes to Windows 7/8/8.1, as referenced in this article which AC apparently didn't read...

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

            • icon
              John Fenderson (profile), 1 Oct 2015 @ 7:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

              Yes, but unlike 10, you have the option of not installing that change in 7/8/8.1

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2015 @ 8:52am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

              >3. You use Win10? Do yourself a favor and get an old win7 key.

              Too bad the support for Win7 will end much sooner than Windows 7. You could have just as well proposed using Windows XP or 95.

              Nevermind the fact that Microsoft is pushing these changes to Windows 7/8/8.1, as referenced in this article which AC apparently didn't read...

              Yes, the support will end but we still have few years until this happens. Just take a look at Win XP.

              And about the 2nd paragraph, I did read the article but as John pointed out you can ignore those things on win 7. And I dint say win 8 because it has a bit more of built in drm than 7 which could lead to the same thing happening without a users knowledge. Don't trust me, read up on differences between win7, and 8 in the boot system.

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

    • identicon
      Rich, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:35am

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      People who aren't stupid enough to run random crap on their computers.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:49pm

      Re: SecuROM and Safedisc.

      "Honestly, who among you has games using this and hasn't found a (noCd) crack for those games?"

      That's not the point. People who legally purchase a game should not have to turn to cracks to use their legally purchased products. Especially when literally the only supposed purpose for the DRM they're needing to circumvent is to stop people going to the pirate sites.

      Even if it was always as trivial for everyone to do as you suggest (and it's not for everyone), it's criminal that it should ever be necessary for someone who is legally obtaining their products.

      "If people aren't able to use google then maybe that is a Darwinian problem."

      Remember that the assholes who push this DRM are the same assholes who are trying to hold Google directly responsible for people being able to do such a thing. They want to force you to buy the product again, not to allow you to use the things you already paid for. Don't blame the users.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 8:46am

    Considering that some of those games were published by Microsoft, the same company that is now claiming their DRM compromises the security of the operating system... doesn't that mean that Microsoft is basically admitting they infected people's computers with malware? Could someone who installed one of these games and was subsequently hacked sue them for damages?

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

  • icon
    tjaich (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:26am

    Book DRM

    Let's just take the book analogy a step further. DRM seems to only exist because companies can and not because they necessarily should. After all, that book you bought 30 years ago still works, and you can freely photocopy it as much as you want. I don't think book sales ever suffered because there were thousands of book pirates running around with photocopied books.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:44am

    I'm not sure which DRM in specific is causing my problems, but I'm unable to play some of my older '90s-era CD games on my new 64-bit machine. I know that 16-bit installers don't work on 64-bit windows, but I have a 32-bit machine still running. Simple enough to install the game's files on the 32-bit machine, copy them over to the 64-bit machine and have it run just fine, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, they're corrupted by a form of DRM that requires the CD to be in the same drive the game was initially installed from, so non-matching drives = legally owned software rendered utterly unusable. Maybe if I was into piracy, I'd know resources to get fixes for this flaw.

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

    • icon
      minijedimaster (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 12:19pm

      Re:

      It's not just 16bit installers that won't work. It's all 16 bit "applications" that won't work. So even if you install it to a 32bit machine and copy over the files, it still wouldn't work. The actual game exe itself is a 16bit application and thus won't run on a 64bit platform. I assume it's a 16bit game because its from the 90's era and most applications written back then were still 16bit even though Win98 was a 32bit capable OS.

      Only way around this is to run it in an emulator like DOSbox if its an old DOS game. Or on a separate physical/virtual machine that runs a 32bit OS or some older legacy OS.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 12:37pm

        Re: Re:

        My original comment was a bit muddled. When I said it was a 16-bit game, what I should have said was that it was a 16-bit installer for 32-bit games. Some of these games work well enough on the 64-bit machine when installed files are transferred, but there are still the few that complain about the CD being missing or in the wrong drive due to its DRM.

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:46am

    Microsoft doesn't care if they break old games. Most of the old Lucasarts games will run on newer, 64-bit versions of Windows, however they won't install. They use a 16-bit version of Microsoft's installer, which is no longer supported in the 64-bit versions.

    A while back, one person created 64-bit compatible installers to get around this problem.

    Of course once you get the game installed, you'll have to look elsewhere for patches, since the asshats at Disney killed the Lucasarts support site.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:58pm

      Re:

      I've never had issues using ScummVM for anything on the official compatibility list - http://scummvm.org/compatibility/

      However, this is a very different problem. The issue you're describing is not directly supporting 16 bit technology on a 64 bit platform. That's natural progression, and there has to be a cut-off point somewhere (which is where things like emulators, DOSBox, etc should naturally take over if not open source projects like ScummmVM). In your example, they're simply not supporting any 16 bit installers, so it's not even directly a game issue.

      In the case in the article above, they're deliberately blocking things that are only used in games, and which they themselves actually supplied at one point. That's a major issue, the fact that it's yet an another "anti-piracy" tool that only screws over people who don't pirate is the main thing to take away.

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

    • identicon
      Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      A game I'd like to see working again is some of the Dream Catcher/Cryo Interactive games. I would like New Adventures Of The Time Machine to work again.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:53am

    Microsoft has been so kind as to post a workaround that uses the Command Prompt to open/close the insecure driver to allow the games to be played.



    Isn't this why people are afraid to try linux?

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

    • identicon
      Hawk, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      >>Microsoft has been so kind as to post a workaround
      >>that uses the Command Prompt to open/close the
      >>insecure driver to allow the games to be played.

      >Isn't this why people are afraid to try linux?

      The funny thing is that those offending SafeDisc and SecuROM games tend to work fine on Linux (Wine)... :)

      Anyway, the command prompt workaround doesn't work on Windows 10, but it works in 8.1/7/Vista.

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

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 9:54am

    The responsibility is on Microsoft...

    On the one hand, I think that what they're doing now, in patching the vulnerability, is absolutely the right thing to do. It is their responsibility, as the publisher of the operating system, to ensure the security of the operating system.

    However, as the publisher of some of the affected software, I think that it is also their responsibility to supply patches for that software so that it will continue working on the newest version of Windows (especially if they will be patching 7 and Vista to and causing games to stop working on earlier versions of Windows).

    They should take the initiative here, and release patches that neuter or remove the DRM. Yes, it's their responsibility to keep their software secure, but it's also their responsibility to not break one piece of software by updating another.

    Who knows? If they release free, timely patches and fix the stuff that they broke, perhaps other publishes will follow suit.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 12:01am

      Re: The responsibility is on Microsoft...

      I would not necessarily agree here in some ways, but the sticking point for me is that some of the games listed were supplied by Microsoft in the first place. Yes, they're legacy products, but if the reason they're insecure is due to something that MS included with these games, then it should be Microsoft's responsibility to remove the vulnerability. Especially since they're such big supporters of the DMCA and anti-piracy laws that make it illegal for others to do it on their behalf.

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

      • identicon
        Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:36pm

        Re: Re: The responsibility is on Microsoft...

        MS is a pure theft company. You only have yourself to blame if you get ripped off by them.

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

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:02am

    If my children find my old games they find them very interesting.

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

    • identicon
      Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      Until they either won't work correctly or won't even install due to incompatibility. *Sorry this is not compatible with your OS please contact the blah blah blah blah*

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

  • identicon
    TDR, 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:08am

    Yet another reason I'm glad I finally made the permanent jump to Linux (Linux Mint 17, specifically) when I did. No more putting up with crap like this from MS. My OS is under my control, not that of some indifferent company. And I've gotten all but one or two of my Windows games (not counting DOS games, which all of them work flawlessly in DOSBox's native Linux version) to work either via Wine or by finding native Linux versions (such as for the Quake series). And the OS is fast, too, unlike Windows, which moves like a pig in molasses more often than not.

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

    • identicon
      Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:34pm

      Re:

      I would love it if a lot of my old kids games would work like the Magic School Bus Solar System game or Putt Putt Travels Thru Time.etc without requiring Scumm VM to operate.

      Everybody's solution is to use Scumm VM but why can't MS make some kind of emulation built in to emulate 32 bit stuff properly with built in drivers or support for vintage drivers?

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Mar 2017 @ 12:12am

        Re: Re:

        "why can't MS make some kind of emulation built in to emulate 32 bit stuff properly with built in drivers or support for vintage drivers?"

        Because they have no financial incentive to do so, basically. Microsoft's business is built on getting you to move to their shiny new OS and applications, not to support legacy items. They do so where it's still profitable or necessary to keep people upgrading, but they won't do it so that you can play old games.

        This is why open source is so important and popular. Developers do things because they want to, not because someone's attached the correct dollar figure to it. People say use ScummVM because they're the only ones on your side, without their efforts you'd only have software that's unusable on a modern OS.

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

  • identicon
    a.s., 29 Sep 2015 @ 10:30am

    very little sympathy

    I used to have great pity for people who got caught in these messes. However, that sympathy has been slowly sinking because people are still buying DRMed products.
    The following are facts about the world concerning anything digital.
    1. If it has DRM on it, what you have purchased is not the product, but rather the ability to access the product. Said access can be revoked at any time for any reason, and the seller can keep your money.
    2. If you're pleased with fact 1,, then go ahead and make the purchase, but don't complain about the seller or a third party deciding you can't use the product anymore and also deciding to keep your money.
    3. If you're not pleased with fact 1, then don't buy the ability to access the product. Live without the product, pirate the product, get a product similar to the one you haven't bought, break the DRM once you have bought the product, etc.
    If you don't know this after these ten years of Amazon yanking ebooks, DRM that fails in some way and makes things unusable, video sites shutting down... then I have very little sympathy.
    Just like other disgusting facts, one can get viruses, giving people you don't trust access to your equipment is a bad idea, giving your information to large companies is asking for it to be abused... Fact 1 above is a bad thing and testifies to human greed and evil, but that doesn't make it false, it just means we need to protect ourselves from it. The best protection for the average consumer, what with current politics, is to avoid buying or otherwise avoid dealing with DRM. This not only reduces the income of companies who insist on using it but also makes sure the consumer doesn't get nailed later.

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

    • icon
      John David Galt (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 12:04pm

      Re: very little sympathy

      The big problem with this is that users often won't know the product comes with DRM until they get it home.

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

    • identicon
      Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:33pm

      Re: very little sympathy

      That would normally work as a practice until there is nothing left that DOESN'T require DRM. Pretty soon YOU will be required to be online DRM to access your personal bank account which belongs to the US Feds.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 11:54am

    Unfit Product

    this fixing of a security hole may be able to be considered a statement that certain product was unfit to ever be sold, It screams class action to me

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2015 @ 1:55pm

    To the Microsoft developers and pushers of Windows:

    I'm over you like I'm over my dead wife who's not real.

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

  • icon
    John David Galt (profile), 29 Sep 2015 @ 3:26pm

    Where can I find Microsoft's published workaround?

    The title says it all.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2015 @ 5:57am

    Gotta love the corporate-speak reverse-logic:

    "Everything that ran in Windows 7 should also run in Windows 10," said Johne



    Translation: Stuff that ran under Windows 7 no longer will..

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

  • identicon
    GEMont, 30 Sep 2015 @ 2:07pm

    I don't think we're gonna be seeing an end to Win 10 errors soon.

    So much crap from such a crappy company - hooda thunk it.
    Wonder if they will ever consider their customers as anything more than creatures to be controlled and exploited.

    No idea yet if it was an undocumented feature of Win 10, or simply a loose wire in my computer, but last week, right after another invisible upgrade asked me to schedule a reboot to allow the upgrade to take effect, my computer went tits up.

    After the "scheduled reboot", I tried to log in and found that a single keystroke filled the login field with characters, making it impossible to log in. A dozen tries failed, so I rebooted again.

    Now I cannot even reach the log in screen, because neither my mouse nor my keyboard are recognized as peripherals. No keyboard and no mouse, and even the internet connection remains invisible to the machine. All that works is the monitor for some reason.

    And its a Win error, because my keyboard works fine in the boot up and I can access the CMOS by hitting the DEL key. As soon as Win 10 boots, bye bye peripherals.

    Can't even ask questions about this situation on the official Win 10 blogs, using the Vista, as they all want my Mickey Sloth "account details", which is all on the Win 10 box and inaccessible.

    I'm now back on the old Vista again, and awaiting diagnostics on the Win 10 box.

    Color me, not impressed.

    ---

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

  • icon
    keithzg (profile), 30 Sep 2015 @ 2:56pm

    Had a very similar issue with Rainbow Six 3 Gold (AKA "Raven Shield") recently. Their CD Key authentication service seems borked, and random doesn't work on some computers, saying that the CD key is invalid or in use (two different errors seen on several machines each), so even friends who had purchased it on Steam minutes earlier were finding themselves unable to play it at our LAN party.

    Luckily, there were instructions out there on pirate-y sites that made it work, and so by circumventing piracy protection systems we were able to play our legitimately purchased copies of the game . . . sigh.

    (If you're wondering about the fix, it basically consists of opening GSRouters.dat and RavenShield.ini in the game's 'system' directory and changing two related URLs to bogus ones; if you're reading this in the future because you somehow got here via Google, I'll likely have put up instructions and a script on github under the same handle as here, just haven't cleaned up my poorly-coded installer+script for this and a few other fixes yet, and haven't yet tested what part and permutation of the instructions actually does the job---although for something like this I'm not *too* worried about cargo culting it, as long as it works.)

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

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 10 Oct 2015 @ 4:08pm

    Just Got Screwed

    I have moved on to Linux, so I seldom access Windows games. One of my daughters visited, so we decided to play a game (Civ 4) and it would not load. After much searching we found out that it was do to an M$ update. (Seems that a pop-up could have been provided upon loading the game to let the user know.)

    I just received a response from 2K Support. Essentially, they will offer to move you to Steam. An unacceptable solution. They either need to develop a patch in cooperation with M$ or provide a patch that removes the DRM requirement. Civ 4 is a very old game now.

    Anyway, this incident continues to confirm that M$ and its associated partners will pull the plug on you without notice. A major reason for switching to Linux.

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

  • identicon
    Brian Boru, 1 Mar 2016 @ 4:16am

    @Steve R
    "(Civ 4) and it would not load. After much searching we found out that it was do to an M$ update. ... They either need to develop a patch in cooperation with M$ or provide a patch that removes the DRM requirement. Civ 4 is a very old game now."

    They provided a patch years ago to remove the DRM. Mind you, it's only for the Beyond the Sword [BtS] expansion, but as that's by far the best version of Civ4, it's a reasonable solution from Firaxis/2K.
    You need to patch BtS to the last version 3.19, then you're DRM-free.

    "A major reason for switching to Linux."

    Not really. It's nice to see some decent games finally appearing for Linux, but Windows is still well ahead in both quantity and timing [ie new releases].

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

  • identicon
    Sortinghat, 7 Mar 2017 @ 2:30pm

    I've notice when Vista came out there seemed to be more of a demand for older 16/32 bit software to be compatible which is what lead to Windows 7 as a *soft* attempt and lead to the scene of Virtual Box/Microsoft PC which neither works on Windows 10 very well.

    The latter not at all.

    Windows 10 the problems of the visuals are not the issue for me but making software work right. Who cares how pretty an OS is if there isn't any software written for it to make you want it.

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


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