Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vista: resistance is futile

The Toronto Star reports: [edited]

Vista, the latest version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, has finally made its] consumer debut. While reviews have focused on Vista's new functionality, the legal and technical communities have dug into Vista's "fine print."

Vista 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, 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.

Microsoft reserves all other rights. Microsoft cautions that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software."

Last December, Peter Guttman, a computer scientist at the University of Auckland released a paper [that unravelled] numerous limitations in the new software seemingly installed at the request of Hollywood interests.

Guttman focused primarily on the restrictions associated with the ability to play back high-definition content from next-generation DVDs (referred to as "premium content"). He noted that Vista intentionally degrades the picture quality of premium content when played on most computer monitors.

Thanks to Conrad for the link.


John Rogers said...

See this cartoon take on Vista's pricing (and quality :-) )


Simon said...

You must understand however that most windows users are unlike with other operating systems, idiots. I don't know about you but I being the only person my friends and family know to be computer litterate I get called out to all places to fix things. Most the time its a spyware issue where they have installed a program and its slowed down the computer. The funny thing is that I also find several other infestations and furthermore exclaim that they should be using a mac which would invariably fix their woes and still be able to wordprocess, browse the net and make my life easier.

Anyway I digress, I welcome vistas compulsary removal of software deemed hazardous to the smooth running of the computer, there is no need for any spyware/adware to be installed on any computer and its only those not competant enough to understand and find alternative spyware/adware free programs to use that this is protecting, the rest of us which most likely includes those complaining, probabbly wont notice it do anything anyway, as they are computer litterate enough to know what to and what not to install.

Furthermore, maybe Vista intentionally degrades the picture quality of premium content when played on most computer monitors because most computer monitors wont show the difference, thus saving valuble system resources?

Before you ask, yes I do prefer macs to pc's but I dislike it when people nitpic about things that wouldn't be brought up if apple were doing it, or where there is a reasonable explination...

brett jordan said...

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your comments.

I share your dislike of Windows, and of 'Windows-bashing'... and as someone who regularly gets called out to fix computers, i also share your view that the problems usually lie with the user rather than the operating system, whether that be XP or OSX.

I might even allow for there to be a 'switch' that allows Microsoft to remotely maintain your machine... but I would want the choice to be clearly announced, and the default position to be 'Off'.

As for the 'degrading' of image quality... I think the jury is still out as to whether this is to 'save valuable system resources', or 'to encourage people to pay more money to get the better quality option'.