Microsoft bungles Vista HD-movie news
Will Microsoft's new operating system play high-definition movies -- or won't it? The tech world has been buzzing over the news, reported by APC, among others, that some versions of Vista won't play HD-DVDs or Blu-ray discs. At the root of the issue is Hollywood's fear of high-definition movie piracy. The details get geeky, but it amounts to this: While Vista will have built-in piracy protections when it runs on new, 64-bit processors like the Intel Core Duo, older 32-bit machines are not as secure. As APC notes, "by far the majority of PCs use 32-bit processors," so this is not a minor problem.
Yesterday, Microsoft spokesman Steve Riley announced that ÂAny next-generation high definition content will not play [on 32-bit computers] at all.Â Today, however, Microsoft said Riley had misspoken. It seems the content can be played, but only if the studios "certify" the media-player software. That doesn't take away the underlying insecurity, of course, it just shifts the liability from Microsoft to the studios.
Boing Boing has picked up the story quoting an anonymous Microsoft employee who says: "[Windows] Media Player won't play HD-DVD and Blu-ray, but you'll still be able to play them (on XP, even) with third-party programs like WinDVD and PowerDVD, in full HD.... The screwball thing about all this is that essentially the same risks of hacked drivers and whatnot exist with PowerDVD and WinDVD." (PowerDVD and WinDVD are two popular Windows software programs, which aren't made by Microsoft, for playing DVDs.)
So, why the inconsistency? The employee casts doubt on the possibility of a Hollywood vendetta against Redmond, and concludes, simply enough, "The studios all have tech consultants, and many of them are not fools, so... it's probably the usual: Human stupidity rolled up in a big ball."
Ahh, can't we all just agree not to steal? Piracy restrictions just make for endless heachaches.
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