[Nottingham] Virus warnings as Microsoft launches Vista

Martin martin at ml1.co.uk
Fri Feb 2 20:30:21 GMT 2007

Roger Light wrote:
> This ought to give you some opinions:
> http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt
> It's quite long, but well worth reading.

That is almost unbelievable! It starts off as being a little
incredulous... Unfortunately, for Microsoft, it is very unfortunately
very believable for what they will try to impose. It also gives an idea
as to why it has taken so long for Vista to appear.

Just one snippet from there:

" *Elimination of Open-source Hardware Support*

In order to prevent the creation of hardware emulators of protected
output devices, Vista requires a Hardware Functionality Scan (HFS) that
can be used to uniquely fingerprint a hardware device to ensure that
it's (probably) genuine. In order to do this, the driver on the host PC
performs an operation in the hardware (for example rendering 3D content
in a graphics card) that produces a result that's unique to that device

In order for this to work, the spec requires that the operational
details of the device be kept confidential. Obviously anyone who knows
enough about the workings of a device to operate it and to write a
third-party driver for it (for example one for an open-source OS, or in
general just any non-Windows OS) will also know enough to fake the HFS
process. The only way to protect the HFS process therefore is to not
release any technical details on the device beyond a minimum required
for web site reviews and comparison with other products.

This potential “closing” of the PC's historically open platform is an
extremely worrying trend. A quarter of a century ago, IBM made the
momentous decision to make their PC an open platform by publishing
complete hardware details and allowing anyone to compete on the open
market. Many small companies, the traditional garage startup, got their
start through this. This openness is what created the PC industry, and
the reason why most homes (rather than just a few offices, as had been
the case until then) have one or more PCs sitting in a corner somewhere.
This seems to be a return to the bad old days of 25 years ago when only
privileged insiders were able to participate."

And it gets worse :-(


Martin Lomas
martin at ml1.co.uk

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