Vista’s Fine Print

With Microsoft's Vista set to hit stores tomorrow, my weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at the legal and technical fine print behind the operating system upgrade. The article notes that in the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the “user experience” from the user.

Vista's legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge.  During the installation process, users "activate" Vista by associating it with a particular computer or device and transmitting certain hardware information directly to Microsoft.

Even after installation, the legal agreement grants Microsoft the right to revalidate the software or to require users to reactivate it should they make changes to their computer components.  In addition, it sets significant limits on the ability to copy or transfer the software, prohibiting anything more than a single backup copy and setting strict limits on transferring the software to different devices or users.  

Vista also incorporates Windows Defender, an anti-virus program that actively scans computers for "spyware, adware, and other potentially unwanted software." The agreement does not define any of these terms, leaving it to Microsoft to determine what constitutes unwanted software.  Once operational, the agreement warns that Windows Defender will, by default, automatically remove software rated "high" or "severe,"even though that may result in other software ceasing to work or mistakenly result in the removal of software that is not unwanted.

For greater certainty, the terms and conditions remove any doubt about who is in control by providing that "this agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights."  For those users frustrated by the software's limitations, Microsoft cautions that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software."  Those technical limitations have proven to be even more controversial than the legal ones.   

Last December, Peter Gutmann, a computer scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand released a paper called "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection."  The paper pieced together the technical fine print behind Vista, unraveling numerous limitations in the new software seemingly installed at the direct request of Hollywood interests.

Gutmann focused primarily on the restrictions associated with the ability to playback high-definition content from the next-generation DVDs such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD (referred to as "premium content").  He noted that Vista intentionally degrades the picture quality of premium content when played on most computer monitors.

Gutmann's research suggests that consumers will pay more for less with poorer picture quality yet higher costs since Microsoft needed to obtain licenses from third parties in order to access the technology that protects premium content (those license fees were presumably incorporated into Vista's price).  Moreover, he calculated that the technological controls would require considerable consumption of computing power with the system conducting 30 checks each second to ensure that there are no attacks on the security of the premium content.

Update: United Press International covers the column, while Dan Shearer digs deeper into Vista licensing.


  1. Dwight Williams says:

    And I should buy Vista?
    Given some of the restrictions you’ve covered in that essay, I don’t really see the point of continuing to do business with them.

  2. Russel McOrmond says:

    link stripped

  3. Time for a Necessary Time Out
    MS Big Brother seemingly has stepped WAY over the line and Vista is the ultimate Big Bother! It’s a bold accusation that all business and all consumers are thieves and there’s no trust that there is any good (left) in the world. MS ‘was’ probably one of the most ‘trusted’ (relied upon) brand names EVER, and seems willing to throw that base ingredient for success away. Sad economics. Time for all the open systems and Linux folks to take a group time out and get moving on a building that better trust-model mousetrap for the future..

  4. Windows Genuine Advantage is a potential hassle for users, and could generate a lot of tech support calls for MS, but in principle it is nothing new. They’ve been hardware-linking installations for years (and not just Windows). As for Windows Defender, as bad as that sounds, it is no different than any anti-virus software. A PC I recently bought came with McAfee’s AV pre-installed. It was actively scanning my computer for ‘potentially unwanted software’, as defined by McAfee. Is that any different? Gutmann’s paper was very interesting, but otherwise this sounds like standard fare for a EULA. Any modern software comes wrapped with these kinds of restrictions. There is some question about the enforcability on many of them, though. For example, I’d like to see anti-reverse engineering restrictions tried out in court.

  5. Darryl Moore says:

    Refried, you are wondering about the enforceability of reverse engineering restrictions on EULAs. Well I think I can help you out on that one. In the case of “Blizard vs. BNETD” in 2005 the 8th Circuit Court of Appeal in the USA found that “By signing the TOUs and EULAs, Appellants expressly relinquished their rights to reverse engineer.” The full decision can be found here: [ link ] So don’t start thinking that just because some of the terms of the EULA seem unreasonable, that they will not be enforced by a court.

  6. I’m Going to OSX
    Personally I had just enough with Microsoft. I still have a couple of computers on XP but when upgrade times comes around I will be switching to Apple with OSX, this article just gives me more reasons to do so. I already have a MacBook Pro and I simply love it. It’s much more advanced than anything Microsoft ever did plus a lot more secure and easy to use. My 4 year old can start it up and launch photobooth by herself… 🙂

  7. Consultant
    Wow. And I thought there was only going to be technical, that is something to do with the software’s operation, security risks involved with Vista. Now, it seems that there’s LEGAL security risks that nobody in their right mind would allow a business to undertake- EVER.

  8. Fred
    All the more reason to not touch Vista – I for one am sticking with XP for the time being. Vista is purely a pretty package to attract the masses to computer slavery. As for the ‘fantastic new gui in vista’ – linux nowadays with its fantastic XGL effects beats that into insignificance. The public need to be educated on alternatives to Vista.

  9. Ray Daignault says:

    Go to the DELL website, or HP and look for the option for using XP instead of VISTA. Unlike the upgrade to XP when there was an option between the older OS and the new, there is no option

  10. Let everybody boycott Vista…Period.

  11. Warren Grant says:

    Microsoft seems to have shot themselves in the foot by catering so heavily to the DRM requirements of the Entertainment industry. What company other than Microsoft – with its ever present virtual monopoly – could get away with offering software that gives the user less functionality, lesser rights, and poorer quality media playback – and all at a higher cost – to their customer base and get away with it? Any other company would see their marketshare crumble – hopefully Microsoft experiences the same response. I have absolutely no intention of running Vista, nor would I recommend anyone else do so until such time as these onerous “improvements” are removed. I want to think better of Microsoft, but they keep showing time and time again that they simply do not have the interests of their customers at heart, they have the interests of the Entertainment industry and Microsoft at heart, and the consumer be damned. Might I suggest people check out Ubuntu for a truely impressive operating system?

  12. I agree. On some computers that’s fast enough for vista the cd install is very, very tedious. It’s because it has slow cdrom drive and even slower HD. Laptops usually gimps out on those, with 4300 rpm HD and about 10x at best cdrom drives.

  13. In response to Renfried’s comment above … “It was actively scanning my computer for ‘potentially unwanted software’, as defined by McAfee. Is that any different?” Well, if Windows Defender is going to ‘Automatically’ remove software it deems unsafe without user input, then yes this is a big problem. All anti-virus applications I am aware of allow the user to configure the option as to what actions to take with suspect files. You have a choice whether to ignore, quarantine or attempt to remove the file(s) from the system. I don’t know the details of Vista’s intentions however, automatic removal of software without user input is stepping way over the line in my opinion. I for one have no intention of purchasing Vista and supporting Microsoft’s intent to control my PC without my consent. Genuine Authentication with XP is already too much intrusion.

  14. First, the restrictions about moving the OS to other hardware are nothing new, this was introduced in when Windows XP shipped to much moaning wailing and gnashing of teeth. In reality it had very little impact. If anything Vista is more permissive than XP was in this regard. As to the ability of Windows Defender to automatically remove threats like spyware from the average user’s computer, how is this bad. Yes in principle it could be used by MS to remove software from competing companies, but we all know that this isn’t going to happen because the bodies like the FTC, Justice Department & EU authorities would come down on them like the proverbial ton-of-bricks. The reason for this clause is that “shit happens” and occasionally Defender (or any other AV programs) get faulty information and do the wrong thing. Putting a disclaimer in the license like this is standard practice and I’d bet money you would find similar notices in *ALL* commercial A/V and anti-spyware programs. On the issue of whether MS could have forced the studios to relax the restrictions on HD-content playback because of their dominance in the market, I say “anti-trust.” How somebody with a legal background could make such a dumb claim is incredible. Companies like SONY would have been on the phone to the justice department in the US in a heart beat if MS had tried to dictate terms to them.

  15. For a company that is not afraid of antitrust law suits from the EU and the US governments, how can they be forced to do anything they don’t want to. The inclusion of DRM into Vista operating system is what Microsoft intends to do. Xbox360 is the prime example of the next generation of trust computing – 2048-bit encryption and only run signed code from Microsoft and nothing else. Even their new XNA program requires a subscription

  16. Bozo the Death Machine says:

    Hey Nik, So what if the restrictions for moving to other hardware are nothing new, are they any better for you as a customer just because they keept it in Vista? I wish you more restrictions on all the software you use, since they bring you such an genuine advantage. Next version of Windows will shut down unexpectedly after two years, forcing you to buy an “upgrade” just to be able to get your files back (I hope I have time to patent this idea before Microsoft does

  17. Got_a_Mac-Didn't_look_back says:

    Nik, your Naive
    If you think Microsoft worries about how the DoJ or the EU might react when Windows Defender starts deleting copies of FireFox, or QuickTime, you need to learn from history. Microsoft’s greatest and most successful innovations have been in the field of evading the legal system long enough to make the lawsuits irrelevant, or simply purchasing the relevant governments and having the cases dropped.
    Like so many giant corporations, Microsoft is largely beyond the control of governments or even share-holders. Because so many OEM copies of Vista are guaranteed to be sold, it’s not even clear that a massive consumer boycott could have any impact on Microsoft’s business plans, but I still hold out some hope for the latter. So, the best thing we can do is boycott Vista, and encourage our friends, relatives, colleagues, business partners, and strangers-we-meet-on the street to do the same. Cheers

  18. Human
    Stop worrying and buy a Mac.

  19. Andy Richardson says:

    Wow- it’s not even out yet and Vista is already playing “catch-up” with linux _on the desktop_. WHo’d have thought it?

    though xgl was mentioned earlier, I actually have linux xgl running fast on my 3year old laptop (just the plain onboard video).
    ..and yes it is very flashy – just google for youtube “xgl demo”.
    However, very quickly you just stop noticing it or become irritated by it and see it for what it is, just a snazzy add-on and then disable it. Luckily, unlike vista owners, I will not have wasted money on a top of the range video card, loads of memory and a fast processor only to get board with the effect.

  20. Richard Steven Hack says:

    With regard to whether Windows Defender will delete competing software, it has already done this once. Some time back an update “accidentally” deleted critical parts of Norton Antivirus. I hold no brief for Norton, which is crap, but it was clear to me that Microsoft hoped that when Norton failed, most end users would blame Norton, not Microsoft, and thus be inclined to switch to Microsoft’s new security software line. Look for more of this sort of thing in the future from Microsoft. As another example, I recently tried to use Internet Explorer 7 on a client’s machine to go to the Firefox download site to download Firefox. IE wouldn’t go there. I’m serious. I tried a half dozen times – IE just sat there frozen. It would go to any other site I chose, but not the Firefox site. I downloaded Portable Firefox from an alternative site with no problem and installed that, then used it to go directly to the main Firefox site with no problems at all, so it wasn’t an issue with the Firefox site being overloaded. It seemed that IE 7 was simply programmed not to go to the Firefox site somehow. Very bizarre.

  21. Pixelmonkey says:

    Everyone should just go open source. Google ‘linspire’. Fight the power.

  22. sir
    Window Media Player also will not install a plugin for Firefox, so no video files can be played within Firefor. You have to manually find the 3 .dll’s and copy paste them

  23. marvin duran says:

    another petition
    We another petition for Vista, mainly, the need to forcefully upgrade to a whole new laptop to run the full experience. Please sign our petition too! [ link ]

  24. Weird, you talk about ie not letting you go to the FireFox site. My Windows Explorer will not let me go to the Netscape folder. Every time i click on the Netscape folder, Explorer pukes all over itself and imediately cancels the window entirely. This ONLY happens if i click on the Netscape folder. Sometimes it even happens if i try to open the folder in NotePad when i am trying to load a .txt file that is in that folder. So. do i really think this is one of MS’s intentional programing feats?, of course, probably part of why they won’t share the code, cause this kind of stuff would be found true beyond any doubt.

  25. dennis parrott says:

    big business is no longer satisfied merely taking your money. they want to own you. people have told me i’m crazy when i was saying this sort of thing to them over the last six months and now it appears that i was right. if you value your freedom, run like hell for the exits people. vista? just say NO! ubuntu linux installs easily enough to just about pass the “grandma test”. (meaning could my mother put the disc in and then use the system to do what she needs to do) i only need to get a few more bits of old code that are windows-only running under the compatibility layers to make ubuntu my next OS. if you don’t want to be owned, VOTE WITH YOUR MONEY. don’t buy that crap. allowing microsoft (or any other software vendor) to dictate to the owner of the computer which bits of code can run and which cannot is blatantly unacceptable. it is MY COMPUTER and I WILL RUN WHATEVER I SEE FIT regardless of what crap the “content owners” like Hollywood and the “recording industry” think they can jam down my throat. …the unmitigated gall of some billionaire software weenies… sheesh.

  26. Modern EULA’s are the problem
    Modern EULA’s are the problem
    Text: I’d like to respond to a previous comment that: “Gutmann’s paper was very interesting, but otherwise this sounds like standard fare for a EULA.” This is precisely the problem. The majority of modern EULA’s are extremely restrictive, and generally include lines like (and I paraphrase): “We the company limit you, the user, in the following ways… Yes, we understand that this is more restrictive than current copyright law, but then if you don’t agree with the EULA, don’t use our software/hardware… Oh, and by the way, we get to change this EULA whenever and however we want, so while you might be happy with it today, we can’t promise what will happen tomorrow. AGREE / DISAGREE.” Most modern companies are now including DRM that tries to physically enforce the above EULA. They try to claim that its all in the name of protecting content, but in reality, its about corporate control. In effect, its a sneaky way to get around the limitations imposed on content producers by copyright law (or put another way, a sneaky way to get around the rights granted to copy users by copyright law). Microsoft Vista is no exception, containing both the physical DRM and the nasty EULA.

  27. What They Pay Me For
    Richard Steven Hack: You must be already using Vista. I just went to with IE7 just fine. I’ve been downloading Firefox with IE for months, and always from What gets me more than M$ is those sites that use Windows Media only for streaming content. Puke!!

  28. I always thought that the Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” was a great metaphor for Windows 95 especially the line “Ohh Ohh You make a grown Man Cry”

  29. Michael’s comment: “For greater certainty, the terms and conditions remove any doubt about who is in control by providing that “this agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights.”” Sorry but this is standard language found in many many software licenses (including those from other popular software companies). I don’t know why you are twisting the meaning or intent of Microsoft on this clause. You are taking a common copyright/IP licensing concept/phrase and using it to rag on the features of Vista. The two are not related. No one grants unlimited rights, doing so would be tantamount to an assignment. I would be interested if you could point to 2 or 3 consumer software products that do not include a statement that the license is limited to the use rights granted in the Agreement and that the developer reserves all other rights.

  30. IT Manager
    Regarding the inability of IE to navigate to specific competitor sites, I myself cannot confirm such behavior. I was able to go directly to in IE 7. That said, Michael’s article is about rights. It is the nature of power to attempt expansion. This is what power does. This is certainly nothing new. Thucydides knew it when he wrote “The History of the Peloponnesian War”. He attributed the fall of Athens to its inability to maintain a check upon its own power, which ultimately caused its collapse. Comes before us, Microsoft – the new Athens, gaining power through innovation and vision (remember the 1990s when Microsoft united the industry on a platform that removed the requirement to install 4 video drivers and 7 printer drivers, etc.?), retaining and increasing it through strong-armed EULAs and technological barriers. It is inconceivable to think (Nik) that Microsoft will not use the technology behind Windows Defender to manipulate the computing landscape to their advantage. Microsoft is not here to make computer users smarter, happier, or better adjusted to a technical world. Microsoft exists to make money. It is not a matter of if the feature is exploited, but one of when and how. Microsoft, through their monopoly on the desktop operating system market, becomes ever more restrictive with each successive release of their software. Nik cannot deny that every version of Windows has through both the EULA and technical innovation, reduced the rights of the owner of the computer and data stored upon it. I argue that this trend will not subside, as it is not in Microsoft’s advantage to do so. I have read references to Linspire, Ubuntu in this forum. I myself am a Slackware Linux user, and more so happy to give Patrick Volkerding $40.00 for a copy of Slackware that runs faster, and allows me to do with my data what I wish, than Microsoft for Windows, which costs exceedingly more runs significantly slower, and removes my rights to my data.

  31. Bobs Ur Uncle says:

    The Gamer Angle
    One reason that many people will eventually buy Vista is play games since DirectX 10 is ONLY available on Vista (yes no games support it yet buy they are in the pipeline ie. Crysis, Halo series). Microsoft’s heavy-handed controls of the OS may leave it marginalized to basically a game console for some people. Play games on Vista, do everything else on Linux, Mac OS, etc. At least that is what I could see myself doing if Vista turns out to be some nightmarish DRM hell.

  32. If manufactures of computing hardware (eg. graphics card manufacturers) were legally obligated to to provide API documentation (without restrictions) so drivers for these devices could be written for other operating systems, consumers might have some real OS options by now. That they can get away with selling hardware without providing this documentation is travesty of rights in and of itself IMHO.

  33. What I find hillarious is that microsoft just reached a point where there system, by its design, is on top (INSERT_YOUR_OS_HERE zealots, please shut your hole). Highly stable and great to develop on. Finally. It just took like what, a decade. Now that its finally worth its price tag they go and shoot themselves in the foot. I own my computer. If Bill, RIAA or the MPAA wants to spend 3k on a computer for me they can load it up with all the CPU wasting limitations they want, but I’ll be damned if I am going to pay for the CPU cycles that benefit them. Looks like I’ll stay with XP until Microsoft drops its support or drops this foolishness. Hopefully some other option will come out in the future. MacOS is into DRM as well, and its likely going to get worse. I could roll Lunix, but I haven’t touched it much as a workstation since the late 90s. I’ll likely use BSD, it may be a bit behind the dev curve, but when stuff gets ported there it tends to be solid. Besides, who wants to run some newb bleederware anyways. Meh, the best way to combat this is to stop buy’n media. If you really need it, find a way to pirate it. These people don’t deserve your money, and its not like you are stealing from the artist. Whatever company has them on contract already robbed them blind, and they are paid in advance a pitence of what their work will generate. If that isn’t the case then they are overpaid anyway. 🙂

  34. Vista limits
    Supposedly the limits on transfers were ‘removed’ by MS [ link ]

  35. clintonclinton says:

    GNU/Linux user
    I’m somewhat divorced from what happens regarding borgware – after looking in the core dlls of Win95 I forever gave up on Microsoft products as I realised that they are technically deficient from the bottom up. I tried OS/2 at that time but even though it was more stable there was still something missing – that spark, that joy of discovery which I experienced when I first started using computers in the early 1980s – I found it with GNU/Linux and since switching ten years ago I have never regretted it. The basics which I picked up in 1997 are still useful; and APIs don’t arbitrarily change just to make programmers go out and buy more documentation and to restrict competitors. I don’t pretend that GNU/Linux is trouble free – but this too is a positive as I have advanced trouble-shooting skills as a result. GNU/Linux is much easier for an ‘end user’ than it used to be – but it can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it. I don’t have any non-free software on my machines, and I know that I can go to and find new packages any time I want. If they don’t work they way I want, I can modify them. I’m befuddled as to why anyone would want a corporation dictating their rights, restricting their freedoms and restricting their usage of their own hardware. There are many live dvd distributions of GNU/Linux available – you don’t have to scrub your Windows install to try them, just pop them in the dvd player and boot from them. You won’t find the latest games on GNU/Linux but at least you won’t have to worry about malware/spyware and virii. There are no ‘backdoors’ included with the system. Do you know that when you locally search for things in your windows system that your search is sent straight to Microsoft? Doesn’t it bother you that Microsoft claims the right to remotely look through your files? [ link ]

  36. Joseph, are you saying you disagree with him that it makes it more clear who is in absolute control of your purchased product? You couldn’t possibly be saying that this MS EULA statement is here for your own good. I see additional issues in that they have so many different versions of the software, and different versions of the versions. For example, you can buy the OEM Home Basic, or the Upgrade OEM Home Basic, or the Upgrade Home Basic, or the Full version Home Basic; then each of these can be upgraded. They also have several Business level versions that follow the same pattern. Each of those has specific rules as well. The OEM versions are cheap, but they are strongly tied to a specific computer. You can’t upgrade much (or at all depending on how strictly they enforce the rules). “Upgrade” version is more costly, but requires you to pre-install XP, and then upgrade (which can be a big hassle if you need to replace your hard drive, or reformat, or upgrade). I haven’t seen the EULA for each of these, but OEM apparently requires the purchaser to supply the technical support. Its assumed they are buying it for someone else, on a computer they built.

  37. DRM and antitrust says:

    Philip Machanick
    I don’t think MS is in the same position of market dominance when it comes to playing video content as in general — a high fraction of video downloads are sold via Apple. So I don’t think antitrust considerations play a role here. More likely, this fits the bigger picture of MS trying to catch up with Apple by playing nicer with publishers, as they did with Zune. For music players, you certainly can’t argue that MS is a monopoly and hence has to enforce DRM more stringently than Apple.

  38. If we had good alternatives
    The only reason I use windows at work is because some of our hardware only works on this platform. We have embedded and JTAG debugging kits which need Win2K or XP to run. Being a photography enthusiast, windows based applications are excellent at handling image, monitor and printer ICC profiles, something that’s sadly lacking in Linux. LCMS is nice but it is far from a complete solution. If I had a choice I’d completely dump windows and move to my old Debian system or Ubuntu. Given the odds of having a complete color managed workflow on Linux, I’ll probably stick with my old Win2K machine for that, for now.

  39. John Appleseed says:

    Dell OS X – no comment
    At an educational technology conference last week, I asked a Dell rep. when they were going to sue Apple for the right to sell Dell’s with OS X. His response: “I can’t comment on such things.” I was just kidding and he answered the best he could to stay out of trouble in case he got quoted, but that is what we really need to break the Windows monopoly. Apple deliberately delayed OS X 1.5 (Leopard) to come out after the Vista splash for a reason. They want to make Vista’s splash look like a drop in the bucket.

  40. Technical Bod says:

    I may be opening myself for critism due to the feeling in these replies, however, I feel it is right to have some balance. IT Manager: How many desktops do you have in your organisation? Can you supply slackware to hundreds or thousands of them seamlessly without lots of driver issues? How can you be sure you’re not going to have an Audit by Microsoft or BSA regardless of whether you run redmond software? Will users try to circumvent your software by dual booting to Vista to play DIVX movies after hours on the company projector because you locked down Slackware? Which brings me to the point: Which one of you cares if Microsoft has DRM if someone will crack it and you all trade in DIVX or similar anyway? My partner wants VISTA so she can support business people, clients and students who come to here for training in Office 2007 (you know they will). If Dell is only selling desktops with Vista, how long before clients roll in requesting services you can’t perform because you do not learn the ropes of VISTA by osmosis (using it). Next point. Gamer: Why on the good green earth would you pay $300-to-400 for a video card alone and a tiny monitor when microsoft will force the good games to be no better on the PC than the XBOX 360 with your Hi Def 110foot projector? Not only that, but they wont let you do cool mods on them either for fear it wont be XBOX 360 compatible. Online games? Huh, Have you seen the latest promos from microsoft on live? XBOX 360 will now play streaming movies, interact with online TV Guides, be invited to an online game while watching MTV then let you “pause” the stream while you are playing against that rich loser who paid seven G’s for an Alienware raid array “laptop” with a tiny ultrasharp 15″ LCD screen. Besides, I’ve tried ubuntu, my partner crashed it. I’ve tried Gentoo. It plays good games, but Staroffice killed our complex word documents. I have tried Mandrake three times. It had a hissy everytime I changed hardware. I must admit, I like mac with OS-X. Nice. Have you tried running it corporate though? Some software requires a MAC server. These cost more than the microsoft licensing of a small government (whoops, tiny exaggeration). I’m sorry Linux buffs, I must say, Linux is like a russian built car… small functional, but a ruff ride no matter what custom paint work, mags and tinted windows you get. I would rather the company car be a luxury ride in a Beamer with following distance control, cruse control, ABS brakes, traction control and airbags, even if that means I cannot ‘Burn out’ and do ‘donuts’.

  41. from Slyck
    This article conveniently misses quite a few points:
    1 – If MS had tried to stall the entertainment industry with regard to protections, they would have gotten nowhere. The industry is notorious for its intransigence – see Apple Music vs. iTunes RE Beatles music, for example. Besides this, Geist is forgetting that the industry doesn’t really want playback on PCs in the first place, because they see it as the gateway to privacy. Thus, if MS hadn’t cooperated with them, that would have suited them just well. They would have been left with a sales channel via standalone players, which are MUCH harder to produce widespread cracks for than PCs and hence a preferred playback platform for Hollywood. Thus, CONTRARY to what Geist’s article would have you believe, MS did NOT exactly have the upper hand in that particular negotiation. 2 – You CAN opt out of the technical protections in Vista – by not buying protected media. As MS’ rebuttal to Gutman’s alarmist writings shows, the protections arise only when protected media is detected, and when they do, they apply to that media and its path ONLY, and not to the entire system. Besides this, a lot of the articles are written as if it will be impossible to play protected media on Vista, which is NOT true. As a matter of fact, as recent developments have shown, not only is playback possible, but cracking the protection measures is also. 3 – Windows Defender’s default behavior can easily be changed in the settings. DUH. Of course, Geist’s article conveniently ignores that fact completely. All you have to do is tell Defender to ask you what to do when it finds a threat. Automatic removal is often the default setting for most security programs because it’s better to err on the side of safety when you’re dealing with the average non-geek user. Also, defining malware has been a problem for the entire security industry, not just MS, so that point about the definition being up to MS is nonsense also. The ironic thing about this: if Windows Defender DID NOT automatically remove perceived threats by default, the security crowd would publish a million articles about how insecure that leaves users. Don’t get me wrong, Geist, I normally support your views. But not when they are a part of an alarmist bandwagon movement that has more emotion behind it than sound reasoning.

  42. Mr.
    MediaVidea blog lists out all the 13 main problems with Vista: [ link ]

  43. I don’t see why this can’t be extended to Vista’s Defender/whatever automatically detecting and deleting any 3rd-party software intended to circumvent DRM, specifically DVD rippers etc. Man, I truly hate to say this, but you Linux geeks are living off in an Internet echo-chamber somewhere on Pluto. Linux clients will never make up more than a tiny sliver of global systems, the MS monopoly has made sure of that. I am grateful daily that I started out using Macs years ago…

  44. Russel McOrmond says:

    Petition to protect IT property rights
    If you think that the owner of computers should be in control of what they own, rather than some third party (whether virus authors or the manufacturer/maker), then please sign our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights

  45. At this point, mac is the only way to go for the average consumer. Linux is very powerful but a little too geeky for most.

    There are still some DRM issues with mac (AAC and iTunes) but there simply is not the underlying assumption that “you are a thief and should be treated as such” that microsoft has.

  46. DefendLiberty says:

    Enough of Microsoft! Thanks God for my Macs. Never crash. No crappy DRM. Watch HD TV and DVD without problems.

  47. Economic Approach
    How about this. Go and buy software. Each and every last one of us. Start the install. Read the EULA. IF we disagree, return it and demand our money back. If enouph people do this MS will get the message. So will will the reseller. And if we are refused our money back, we have a perfect class action lawsuit. A EULA which we ‘DISAGREE’ with, and an inability to get our money back. EULA’s aren’t accessable until installation. We should have the right to our money back. If say, get 1 million orders for ABC software and it all gets sent back they will feel the pinch and carry the message to MS. A smaller outlet might be put into bancruptcy.

  48. Economic Approach Pt. 2
    I would like to extend my last remarks. Of we bought 1 million Dell computers and didn’t like EULA of the only OS availible we could just return them. We would heave the bean counters at Dell popping pills to get through their day.

  49. Mr.
    There seems to be more than a little hysteria about Vista’s DRM provisions being generated here and elsewhere.

    I’ll be sticking with XP for the life of my machine (a few years). By then the dust will have settled and I’ll know what to do.

    D. Pelz

  50. fundit
    Apple fans, incurable optimists all, are quite right that the Mac is free of the invasive DRM we’re seeing in Vista. So far! But MacOS is just as proprietary as Vista (more so, being tied to just one brand of hardware), and Apple has already shown itself to be thoroughly enamored with the idea of DRM. If they introduce a Vista-like “rights management” scheme in OS XI, what’s your recourse? (Knowing Mac users, probably a huge outpouring of gratitude. LOL.)

    No, if the computer industry insists on going DRM-crazy, it’s obvious that only Linux offers any real hope. I’m not running it currently, but I can’t see going through the ordeal of switching OSes just to flee from one closed system to another.

  51. Microsquish has been edging toward greater intrusion on end user systems all along. With XP home users and individual customers were subjectet to ever increasing intrusions through an endless stream of patches and updates from the company’s systems.
    I think that Vista has just carried it one step further.
    The end result will be that the public will no longer be getting a full OS from the vendor and that the next step will by a kind of thin client where you’ll be offered only pay as you go apps served up when you connect.

    MS is diabolical!

  52. Apple\s no saint
    Apple used to be very closed and proprietary. The ONLY reason they loosened up and got rid of ADB and their other custom ports is because of the threat of bankruptcy. If Apple was on top they would be just as bad as Microsoft or Sun.

  53. Best option for people buying hew hardware is to turn down the Software agreement, and write to the PC manufacturer for a refund on the cost of the OS.

    This was done successfully a few months back in the UK.
    [ link ]

    Personally I’m sicked by Vista and the power M$ wields – what we need is a class-action lawsuit against M$ – possibly more doable in the EU climate given the previous rulings against Microsoft and their bundled Media player.

  54. Marco De Lellis says:

    I\’m from Italy. In my country people don\’t even know what is an EULA, never had read two lines of it, and they are simply clic-Next-and-install-noobs. Furthermore we are in the black book of piracy.
    As of this moment people in my country don\’t know what threats are hiding behind Vista and it\’s EULA. They are so excited about this new wonderful new son of \”technology\” that they have turned off their brains: their only concern is to have a \”Vista capable\” or \”Vista ready\” machine.
    For this and other reasons I have decided to translate the Gutmann\’s work and others to publish them online. I did it in my manner, building up a FreeBSD server always on here at home since the 28th of december 2006.
    I also got bad posts on local forums when I told people what was expecting them: they said I was selling fried air or FUD and so on…
    I see a bad future for us all if we let them pass this time. Use Open Source/Free software, is there, works and it\’s free. Also defend it: when it will be no more we\’ll become all Borgs.
    Hasta luego.

  55. nuff said
    This is written by a lawyer who writes for the Toronto Star….nuff said! People stick to the sports section.

  56. I have read Microsoft’s EULA, and I can not in good conscience recommend Windows Vista to any potential user.

    This is unfortunate that Microsoft has decided that the owner of the computer must surrender practically all rights to Microsoft.

    The European Union had it right, but they did not go for enough. Basically, they settled for a version of XP without Media Player, and some documentation.

    IT IS TIME TO CALL FOR BREAKING UP MICROSOFT IN TO SEPARATE PARTS. Perhaps operating system, system utilities, user applications, media, and hardware.

  57. Serf
    Apparently MS is doing its best to severe itself out of business. Customer confidence is probably the most important thing regardless the business.
    On my side I’m working hard at moving to Linux. A lot of excellent software runs on it. Ciao

  58. Steve
    Really, I think people are over paranoid. So what if Microsoft automatically remove suspected spyware and adware classed as “high”. To be fair, its all about trying to protect the consumer and prevent the spread of virus’s. Most mum’s and dad’s would not have a clue they have that sort of stuff imbedded in their system so to have it automatically done for you, is a beneift. I agree, we should be wary of what is being collected and it should all be documented but at the end of the day, no one has any clue exactly what is being watched and by whom. I am not pro microsoft by any means but this debat seems a little agressive. At the end of the day, we all have choices and if you dont like what MS are doing, buy a Mac, after all, its a bloody fantastic product. No one says you have to buy vista. People will vote with their feet. Game on.

  59. All the way back to 3.1
    I’ve been an alternative computer/OS user for many years. As others have pointed out there are very few saints in the industry. At the moment the “bad guy” is Microsoft. The reason is because they’ve released Vista and there are several “dirty tricks” included. All the way back to the days of Win 3.1 Microsoft has been into the “dirty tricks” thing. This is nothing new. I mean seriously… What do people expect here…

    Although the Mac platform is really good for eyecandy (it’s a decent home server box as well), it is as expensive as a premium quality PC and it is really difficult to find software if your OS is somewhat out of date. I like it but I don’t have the cash to get a new machine every six months.

    The other alternatives are some form of *NIX. The downside is the “compatibility issue”. Of course it’s going to be incompatible, Microsoft and Apple will go out of their way to make sure of it. Again, I like *NIX. I run Linux on my main machine. It does EVERYTHING I need. Then again I’ve arranged things so I don’t have to worry about things being compatible.

    The end result is, if people don’t like what Vista is doing they will either put up with it and complain or they’ll use something else. So far the (unpaid) articles I’ve read on the web are running 80% against.

    One last thing… If anybody is in a position where they are forced to “upgrade” and get rid of their old machines… Don’t trash them. Donate them to a church, charity, or a local computer user group. There are plenty of people out there who can still use them. Generally any PC which is 700MHz or better can find a home immediately.

  60. Finck
    I really think it is limiting the “user” experience.If i go to FORD Canada and want to by a new Focus.And they tell me i can only get a Fusion,and they can come and check to make sure i haven’t put any after-market parts on it or made any changes from their specifications and limitations.Then you sign on the dotted line to give them all rights to shit you absolutely disagree with.Vista is the same.I will keep XP for a long while yet.

  61. gimme a break, i can’t even install an network http printer

  62. Good Altertives are Out there
    There are good alternatives out there and XP is the last Windows I am using, from here on out it migration.

    Check out [ link ] for excellent run-down of alternatives for both the OS and the applications software…there’s a lot out there.

    For two machines I have converted them to Ubuntu 6.0.6 and its impressive. Firstoff going from XP to Ubuntu seemed to be like having a processors speed boost. I bring home any work and can work Office files within OpenOffice. Its crippleware either, with Easyubuntu and Automatix you can play full DivX movies, DVD’s and Fair Use stays alive for the content you’ve bought.

  63. no title
    um, why not just use another AV?

  64. Louis Lindner says:

    god of the world
    Vista sucks and all computers sold with Vista preinstalled will suck. Go back to Windows Me. XP sucks and I passed it up and Vista is worse. I hate HP/Presario for making machines without drivers for Win32. NTFS sucks and anything you get on NTFS will be a spyware machine. I will quit computers altogether if it gets much worse. I really don’t need any computer, period. Commercialism is sickening and Bill Gates the clown and Microsuck is the purest example of the worse case scenario of commercialism of which I always hated.

  65. Vista is embedded with it’s own spyware, it monitors user activity and builds an online profile based on their surfing habits….uh-uh……anyone seen that red penguin?

  66. Mech Eng
    Sounds like our little funboxes have just gone from timesuckers to more work than worth. I’ve got a total dinosaur on dialup running WinMe and it’s always done what I wanted it to and more. However, between the spyware and advertising I’m using it less and less, and what I’m hearing inside is “Shut it down, buy a boat, and go live life alive. You won’t miss a thing.”

  67. Vanessa J. says:

    Microsoft Lawsuit
    My flatmate bought a Vista capable computer but it couldn’t run it. He was pretty pissed off. I’ve been sorta following this case.

    here are a few articles that may interest you guys:

    [ link ]

    Seattle Post Intelligencer article Microsoft sued over Windows Vista marketing

    < a href="[ Xeno says:

    Alt-tab hypnosis?
    I’ve heard people making a big deal bout Vista’s “alt-tab” — but its just a flashy effect right? Not any “new” functionality.
    Vista sounds like a load of shit. Use a non-MS operating system, mac, linux, whatever, do anything thats not big brother!

  68. if it makes you gamers feel any better i recall reading on microsofts own site they are working on a patch for xp so it can run direct x 10 😀 though they will probs find some way to screw around with it so you cant get it without buying vista =D

  69. user
    I just purchased a top-of-line Dell XPS M1330,pre-installed with Vista Business. I paid for a premium unit, including the price of a DVD player, only to find out that Business will not play a standard DVD. I contacted Dell and their advise was to download some freeware crap or spend $200 to upgrade to Vista Ultimate. In the process of making the purchase, nobody at Dell mentioned this lack of a basic function or offered a different operating system. Not happy…

  70. Vista ( ) for the rough edges it has compared to 7, is every bit as good in the security field. Technically, out of the box, it’s more secure. So that won’t be the case this time around. And for the record, it was the truth between XP and Vista. Vista x64 is substantially more secure through OS protections than XP is. Vista still won’t be as fast as 7. Won’t have the superbar. But under the hood, for the most part, they’re pretty much the same.

  71. Robin Hertzman says:

    Microsoft naturally dont rely on people No Wonder!
    All know how mr Big Bill,Hes really “Gating “his” software. and they “stole” Apps in the start of their attemt to build a company, so Bill and his Crew they KNOW ALL about “stealig” – and thats naturally they have to check YOU out.. I Always had Mac and god damn staying with SERIOUS producers of hard and software. as apple

  72. 香薰按摩