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Microsoft Licensing Fee Intended To Reduce Hobbyists 355

Posted by Zonk
from the please-obey-the-keep-off-the-grass-sign dept.
BokLM writes "Microsoft's Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP of the Windows Digital Media Division, explained at a DRM conference in London why they require a license fee from device makers." From the article: "According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."
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Microsoft Licensing Fee Intended To Reduce Hobbyists

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  • hobby (Score:5, Funny)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:23AM (#14625978)
    ... but what if my hobby is annoying microsoft?
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:24AM (#14625983)
    "A Microsoft spokesman has described their DRM licensing scheme as a system for reducing the number of device vendors to a manageable number, so that the company doesn't have to oversee too many developers."

    Ballmer: Developers! Developers! Developers!

    Yeah, uh huh... right... sounds more like THIS discussion...

    Dr. Walter Gibbs: User requests are what computers are for!
    Ed Dillinger: DOING OUR BUSINESS is what computers are for.
    • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:53AM (#14626302)
      > Ballmer: Developers! Developers! Developers!

      But they are starting the long slow trend that ends with Xbox bow. They still want developers, but only large ones. Because in the end the goal is to turn the PC into an Xbox. All applications are signed by Microsoft and they collect a piece of the action in exchange for it. It solves most of their security problems, lets them tap vast new revenue streams to show investors some growth and allows them the total freedom to screw each developer in turn by introducing their own replacement and deciding the 3rd party app no longer 'meets our strategic vision' and refusing to continue signing.
  • Monopoly? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aitikin (909209)
    Isn't that sort of monopolistic of them? Forcing everyone to pay them, whether you develop for them or buy from them.
  • BoingBoing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by failure-man (870605)
    So Slashdot links directly to BoingBoing now? There's something spectacularly lame about that . . . . . . .
    • Re:BoingBoing? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      Blame the submitter not the messenger.

      If something is submitted and its accepted does it really matter where it coems from?

      Besides in this case, boingboing has a decent enough rep and Cory was actually at the discussed conference so I think its best to use his link.
    • Re:BoingBoing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jridley (9305) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:46PM (#14626907)
      Slashdot is mostly a gathering point for news found elsewhere. If you follow the Register, BoingBoing, HardOCP, and a few other sites, you'll see almost everything before it hits slashdot.
  • Surprised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:26AM (#14626007)
    "I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company's strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators rather than maximizing its profits through producing a better product and charging a fair price for it."

    Really? I thought that everybody -- especially Slashdot -- had this impression.

  • by kevin.fowler (915964) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:27AM (#14626014) Homepage
    Considering we're talking about the oh-so-chipper WMA/V format, they should be paying people to have to work with it.
  • Sweet Zombie Jesus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SchrodingersRoot (943800) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:28AM (#14626030) Journal
    Those damn hobbyists are the entire problem! Those bastards! Er...this has nothing to do with tromping the little guys...

    The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Microsoft has the resources to "manage" nearly any number of "hobbyists"? I mean, laziness is one thing, but sheesh...
    I wonder if there are any backroom deals being made here?
    • When they say "we don't want to manage hobbyists", they most likely mean: "we don't want the competition from hobbyists".

      So, either they'd rather not have to invest more to keep on top of the open-source competition and would just prefer it to go away, or they just feel they're unable to.

      And of course, fair competition is out of the picture at Microsoft for historical and cultural reasons. They've come all that way by being assholes, why would they want to change their ways now ?
  • anagram (Score:5, Funny)

    by kunzy (880730) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:28AM (#14626036) Homepage
    Did you know that "Steve Ballmer" is an anagram for "Tremble, slave!". This explains a lot :)
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:33AM (#14626072)
    Guess we can add the "War on Cusotmers" (started by the RIAA) to the country's other great successes -- the War on Terror, War on Drugs, and War on Kids on My Lawn
    • Guess we can add the "War on Cusotmers" (started by the RIAA) to the country's other great successes

      Well we had a War on Poverty -- and Poverty won!

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:12PM (#14626499)
      the War on Terror

      Here's a little viral propaganda you might like to try spreading. Refer to it always as the war against terror. In conversation. In posts. On IRC. It's the war AGAINST terror. Try to get that alternative phrase into common currency. Get your friends to do the same. Spread the meme throughout /. - there's nearly a million of us, and we're quite talkative, so if we work in concert to subvert the language we can make a difference. Think of it as linguistic Googlebombing.

      It's just possible that the acronym of the new phrase, and its appropriateness to the likes of Bush and Blair, will have a subliminal effect on all who hear the phrase. George Bush leads us in the war against terror. TWAT.

  • by confusion (14388) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:34AM (#14626087) Homepage
    MS certainly isn't winning over any of the open source community with that move. It really drives the wedge deeper and give more people more reason to not use Windows.

    I do have to wonder how much of this is to show a strong front to the increasingly powerful media companies and their mostly oppresive DRM schemes.

    Jerry
    http://www.networkstrike.com/ [networkstrike.com]
    • MS certainly isn't winning over any of the open source community with that move.

      That presupposes that MS gives a rat's ass about winning over the open source community. They'd much rather crush it.

      It really drives the wedge deeper and give more people more reason to not use Windows.

      No, it gives people more reason to not use open source software, because if it doesn't work in Windows, nobody cares about it. Sad, but true.

    • That's actually kinda cool in a way.

      Right now a lot of people write software to release for the windows market because of the profit/risk ratio. If they add another layer of fees to pay then that ratio shifts in favor of other solutions.

      There only needs to be one "killer game" for linux that is not on windows and the jig is up. Linux would probably gain 10% penetration from that one event.

      By driving away developers who are creating things- just not "big enough"- they are creating a set of developers for o
      • There only needs to be one "killer game" for linux that is not on windows and the jig is up. Linux would probably gain 10% penetration from that one event.

        Mmmm, I'd say more likely Windows users will just wait until the game comes out on Windows. Because it will.

    • MS certainly isn't winning over any of the open source community with that move.

      What about the article leads you to believe they are trying to "win over" the FOSS community?
  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by typical (886006) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:36AM (#14626107) Journal
    The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

    If it turns out that hobbyists are a bad thing, then the market will demonstrate that. There's no need to act as if your rights are being suppressed.

    Sometimes hobbyists are phenomenal for a platform (the Apple II platform, Linux). Sometimes they don't seem to provide enough benefit to be essential. Game consoles are effectively closed to hobbyists and despite the degree of amateur work, Flash was never really a free platform to seriously develop for.

    The only area in which I can think of that this isn't true is when monopolies exist (such as the cell phone market, where cell providers can force the platform closed by requiring that anyone that uses their services provide only a closed platform).

    Anyone can sit down and provide something an an encoded audio and video format. There are a lot more MPEG-based players out there than anything else, and it's not as if hobbyists can't produce content for these. Microsoft's chosen their market (at least in the short term). Let them play with the idea and see whether it pans out.
    • by Tony (765)
      If it turns out that hobbyists are a bad thing, then the market will demonstrate that.

      Too late. Microsoft has already demonstrated it, and they have much more influence in the market than you or I. There is no amorphous "market." There are companies that sell products. And they are lining up against fair use, and creating a barrier to entry for others who are not on their side.
    • The question isn't whether hobbyists are good or bad; it depends on where things are at the time. In the Apple I days, computers of that type were considered toys more than tools by businesses, and hobbyists were correspondingly more important. In that context, MS isn't anti-hobbyists, it's anti-spending-money-on-them-in-this-area.

      This is basic business profit maximization logic, and you hear it all the time. There's a whole industry of management consultants who do little more than point out that if you
    • Game consoles are effectively closed to hobbyists

      Not really true -- every console from the VCS to the PSP has had homebrewed software developed for and executed on it.
    • Re:Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196)
      "Hobbyist" is just a euphemism (or is it aphorism) for "two guys in a garage". I can think of several examples of this that had a considerable impact on computing. Discriminate against these sorts of fellows at your own peril. They are where all the nifty new ideas come from because the large corps tend to beat that sort of thing out of you.

  • In order for a consumer to hold both a protected object and the ability to use it, then they must have the key to unlock the protection...somewhere. So, in addition, companies now have to deal with licensing and compliantcy issues. And DRM sacrificies the rights of the majority at the expense of the minority.

    Every leg of DRM is trying to collapse it: except two.

    The only supporting legs are a company's desire to "protect" their work and the necessary laws to make circumvention of DRM illegal

    And, as we all
  • by Migraineman (632203) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:39AM (#14626142)
    This isn't news, nor is it some grand conspiracy. It's perfectly normal business practice. If you price a product (or worse, make it available for free,) you'll have huge demand. This demand carries with it a customer support expense, which can be quite large. You can break a company with excessive expenses, of which customer support is one.

    When pricing a product, you typically want to set a minimum price specifically for the purpose of eliminating the deadbeat/hobbyist factor. Yes, you'll lose a couple of potential sales because the price presents a barrier to entry, but if you did the math properly, that minor loss is substantially easier to swallow than the loss from a huge non-revenue-generating support obligation. If the majority of your customers are businesses, they won't blink at a couple-hundred bucks for a product.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:11PM (#14626487)

      This isn't news, nor is it some grand conspiracy.

      Actually, it is. A monopolist has partnered with two cartels and all three of them have been convicted of illegally abusing their market positions. They are partnering to build an artificial barrier to entry in the convergence of their markets and to leverage their existing position to gain an advantage in new markets. This is most definitely a conspiracy and it is news. Here's a hint. It is illegal to use a monopoly to gain an advantage in other markets or to build barriers to entry to those markets. MS has partnered to do just that, implementing software restrictions to provide some parties with a market advantage using their monopoly on desktop OSs.

      When pricing a product, you typically want to set a minimum price specifically for the purpose of eliminating the deadbeat/hobbyist factor.

      Since when is an artificial restriction on use a "product?"

      If the majority of your customers are businesses, they won't blink at a couple-hundred bucks for a product.

      And you think that makes it ok or something? MS has a monopoly and they are using that monopoly to collect an additional toll from developers in the separate software application market. That is illegal.

    • The simple solution is this: if support is an expense, charge for support. It's just that simple. Businesses do it all the time. Cygnus made millions that way; Red Hat is doing all right too, I hear. From the hardware side, Sun makes a pretty penny on the hardware, but they make even more on support contracts.

      Pricing something just to freeze out a certain segment of the population might be standard business practice, but it has nothing to do with the economics of support. It has to do with freezing out a ce
  • by mykepredko (40154) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:40AM (#14626152) Homepage
    This really isn't news - Microsoft has been actively trying to limit hobbyists and small businesses entry into creating new applications for the PC for ten years or more. This is just one more way to squeeze them (us) out.

    Personally, I don't understand this behavior because it is so damaging in the long term - students (who can also be thought of as "hobbyists") will not be able to easily work on Microsoft products and will naturally gravitate towards more open solutions...

    I've never understood why Microsoft wasn't more supportive of the student, hobbyist and small business marketplace. I can understand that they do not want products propagating that use obsolute interfaces/methodologies but there should be some halfway point, not freezing out those of us that want to experiment with PC applications and don't have deep pocket sponsors.

    myke
  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:41AM (#14626169)
    Beyond MS and the XBox, this practice is pretty common in both the HW and SW industries. If you've ever: tried to synthesize FPGA code, get a compiler for a up,uc that's not mainstream, tried to get an eval board, tried to get API info, tried to program for any console or handheld, you've come across this practice.

    Most of that stuff is FREE to corporate customers, companies will voluntarily lose money just to get people to try to use their product. However for people on the street, or companies too small to be "real", they will charge thousands upon thousands of dollars for these materials, if they will let you have them at all.

    On one hand they're right, true hobbyists often have day jobs that are not in the industry (since those in the industry often gank this stuff from work) and can generate a lot of cost by a multitude of questions and misunderstandings. On the other hand, one persons hobby could turn into a good business, if their idea or project becomes interesting. By discouraging this, they are effectively discouraging innovation in anything less than a rather well funded start-up.
    • If you've ever: tried to synthesize FPGA code... Most of that stuff is FREE to corporate customers, companies will voluntarily lose money just to get people to try to use their product. However for people on the street, or companies too small to be "real", they will charge thousands upon thousands of dollars for these materials, if they will let you have them at all.

      Xilinx [xilinx.com] provide the basic ISE synthesis tools[1] for their smaller FPGAs for free, no matter who you are, and for their more powerful tool

  • Damage is Done (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yhippa (443967)
    They may have made a mistake by even licensing this tech at all. Have you tried using a WMA device? I purchased a SanDisk MP3 player over Xmas to try out the Napster-to-Go service. Needless to say, the confusion started when you had to deal with two pieces of software (WMP and Napster) and the fact that the hardware OS is inconsistent from one manufacturere to another.

    I recently bought (and returned) a Philips mp3 player to use for audiobooks. Not only can the thing not display track time > 1 hr.,

  • Bad move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rewt66 (738525) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:43AM (#14626182)
    If Microsoft can't bother with the hobbyists, then the hobbyists won't bother with Microsoft. Result: The new cool things will happen on Linux or Mac, not on Windows.

    This is not the smartest thing Microsoft has ever done...
  • by valentyn (248783) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:44AM (#14626189) Homepage
    As far as I remember, Microsoft has been calling the OSS community a bunch of hobbyists since the OSS movement appeared on their radar (as a threat, of course). The article agrees, as MS tells "the intention is to reduce the number of licensors [...] to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with", the article says this is plain anticompetitive: "I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company's strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators [...]"
  • But it looks like Microsoft is unable to manage swarms of Windows fans
    so they decided to make a "WinSelection":

    Microsoft Certification Test:

    1) Are you a windows hobbyist? [YES: 1 point, NO: 0 points]
    2) Do you have a planty of cash? [YES: 2 point, NO: 0 points]

    Test results:
    0-1 points - useless windows community member (possible linux hacker)
    2-3 points - usefull windows community member
  • I understand that Bill Gates has a business to run these days, but blocking out the hobbysists isn't the answer - that's where the most innovation happens, most great inventions have come from "hobbyists." (Think TV, Phone, Linux...)

    Perhaps someone should remind Bill Gates where MS came from, wasn't he (and co) a hobbyist at Uni where MS started??

    Haydn.
  • A lot of DVDs made in Finland get region code 0. I can understand that (some noble but ultimately futile dreams on Finnish cinema getting big on foreign market, I guess =). But most of the DVDs don't seem to have CSS either, which kind of puzzles me.

    I'm not familiar with how CSS licensing works for content authors, but maybe, maybe some Finnish producers said "hey, let's copy protect these things" and another producer said "well, that's not going to happen, have you seen what prices they're asking for tha

  • Hobbyists, Or ...? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @11:59AM (#14626367)
    The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.

    I find it way too easy to replace "hobbyists" with "independent music producers" in that quote. And lock them out to benefit who? Organized Music? Almost certainly. MS wants to play nice with Big Music, get their content, and make a few more tens of billions in the process. Get government to close the so called "Analog Hole". Lock struggling producers out of a standard for DRM. Nothing here to hurt the big players at all. All this is just another reason why MS must die.

    (As a company, you idiot lawyers.)

  • Irony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:01PM (#14626384) Journal
    Is it just me or is it a little ironic for them to say this. I mean after all, didn't MS, along with most of the other modern computing giants, start as a couple of geek hobbyists in a garage somewhere? The Quest for Cash is getting a little beyond stupid these days. It is one thing to be cutthroat, unethical, and often illegal in business, but more and more the trends are following more along the lines of head in the sand, or pure insanity. At least when they are being cutthroat, unethical, and often illegal, they are a little more stable and predictable.
  • by ElboRuum (946542) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:02PM (#14626403)
    The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

    *BEEP* *BOP* *BOOP* CHICKACHICKACHICKA *ZIP* *BOOP*

    Readout:

    We write software! NOT YOU!
  • by brontus3927 (865730) <edwardra3NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:03PM (#14626417) Homepage Journal
    However, this is done quiet often in the distribution world. Most software distributors I've dealt with require an application payment. I don't actually agree with the strategy, but it's done so that they only have to deal with "serious" companies.

    Now the major difference is these distributors have competition, but the only competetion to protected WMA/V DRM is Apple's FairPlay, which only Apple gets to use.

    Also realize that, in effect, this is exactly what the DVD-CCA does. Only issues liscences to people who agree to play by their restrictive terms.

    On a certain level MS probably also believes that their DRM will be cracked more easily/quickly if smaller, less "ethical" coders could get their hands on it. But it didn't do the DVD people much good. IIRC, DVD Jon was able to crack CSS after the cypher was anonymously leaked to him

  • by bushidocoder (550265) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:04PM (#14626420) Homepage
    The statement in the article does not mean that Microsoft does not like hobbyists producing software - indeed, if you look at the billions of dollars Microsoft has invested in hobbyist level tools, I think its pretty clear that they encourage hobbyist developers. What they don't encourage is hobbyist developers distributing DRM keys on devices in an unmanageable way.

    Whatever you may feel about DRM, Microsoft's position on the potential use of DRM is pretty clear - they believe, right or wrong, that consumers can have access to the best content if and only if that content can be protected.

    Honestly, what would hobbyists do with a truly open DRM SDK for devices? The secure path audio only applies to media sources LEAVING the PC, not input sources, so it doesn't affect microphones, instruments and the types of devices that casual users might actually be developing. Hobbyists won't have the substantial financial backing to produce their own playback device. Any small company who has the desire and financial resources is going to have the cash to spend on this liscensing scheme, especially considering that Microsoft has always employed hefty discounts for small ISVs. This doesn't prevent hobbyists from working with DRM'd media streams on devices they purchased - if the device manufacturer liscensed the DRM from Microsoft (which it would have to, or you couldn't enjoy media on the device), then you can still use a healthy amount of the Windows Media SDK to work with media stream, limitted to some extent by the secure path, but that's a different gripe.

    Given the financial difficulty of building a full device capable of full media playback, what would hobbyists do with an SDK that allowed raw access to protected content - most of them would write software the emulates a virtual device to circumvent the DRM. That's exactly what Microsoft is attempting to prevent.

    • Plenty of hobbyists (amateur producers doing video and music) will need to be able to *create* content in whatever medium is required. It's not just about consuming, it's also about being able to deliver in the format that's required, or risk being shut out. That said, I doubt any studios will ever be in the position where they can't import a 16 bit .wav file. But there are already enough artificial barriers between an amateur music or video producer and the commercial world.
    • The twisted logic involved with DRM is so extreme, it's hard to believe anyone can go along with any of it. Two minutes of thought expose the whole framework for what it is.

      Whatever you may feel about DRM, Microsoft's position on the potential use of DRM is pretty clear - they believe, right or wrong, that consumers can have access to the best content if and only if that content can be protected.

      By protection, you must mean lock out all but a few publishers. Why else limit who can make a player? This

  • Change of headline (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XB-70 (812342)
    Microsoft says: don't try to write better drivers. Linux fan-base grows.
  • by juanfe (466699) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:16PM (#14626534) Homepage
    I work in Developer Relations for a big wireless carrier, so this is close to my heart. While I've been a Mac user since 1985 ('nuff said), I do have a lot of respect of Microsoft when it comes to Developer Relations... they do know what they're doing in that area.I can understand the source of the Microsoft's VP's statement, although if his wording was close to what was paraphrased in the article, it was a poor choice of words.

    If Microsoft is hoping to get real devices out there that include their DRM component, then what they're doing is putting up a barrier to entry to ensure that only those who are truly committed to building a mass-market product get the attention of internal staff so that MS can make money indirectly through devices that use and license the DRM component.

    Whether or not that's a sound business practice is their decision to make. But it's not a unique model. If you want to release a game on PlayStation, Gamecube or XBox, you license the development kits from Sony, Nintendo or XBox. They do this because they're in a mass market and need to ensure that the companies they work with and who use their name are equipped for what happens when something succeeds massively or has major problems. Microsoft's approach for their DRM is no different--the only difference is that a VP went out and actually set realistic expectations for what it takes to be a developer for those platforms in a forum that pissed boingBoing off--enough of a commitment and a financial stake in the game to make sure that something useful comes out of all the work people put into it.

    It's true that hobbyists are often the source of completely original, unexpected innovations, and any company that is serious about innovation encourages that. Developer programs that embrace this open themselves up to very new ideas. But let's make a clear distinction between encouraging hobbyists and the business drive behind encouraging real applications, services or devices that make money for a developer and the company that makes money from the platform.

    Please don't get me wrong: I stay at my job managing a developer program because I love answering developer questions. I love helping someone out and seeing them succeed, particularly if they have a great idea and the nads to see it through. I also believe that developers should have as many tools freely available as they can have. Where I work, I always try to argue for making information, APIs and toolkits open and accessible to every developer. I often get into some very heated discussions with people who argue that we should only make this API or that piece of documentation available to existing partners because they don't want to deal with hobbyists--in fact, I'm actively lobbying for something like that as I type. I tell internal resistors that by staying closed off they're never going to hear of the new stuff, they'll only hear from the same people over and over again and they'll still have to deal with hobbyists. I also help hobbyists and independent developers figure out ways of selling their product without having to build a business relationship with MegaCorp and dealing with what can be a bureaucratic process.

    Being on the support side of things, I also contend with the reality of this internal advocacy--I often have to guide hobbyists and amateurs who are dabbling and who can consume hours of my day while clearly showing me that they're very unlikely to actually come up with something that could be a marketable product even if they go it alone.

    Hobbyists-cum-entrepreneurs often have very unrealistic expectations regarding what they need to do to succeed. Some hobbyists tend to consume an inordinate amount of time from a company's developer relations and business development staff and don't turn out something that can actually become a product--and honestly, my business is to get developers from idea to market. These things include adequate support staff, sales teams, marketing funds, technical acumen and enough wherewithal to deal with contract n
  • have done had DEC locked the system from hobbyist?

    The first computer he used was a DEC PDP-10 that was owned by General Electric. His high school paid General Electric for time that the students could use to program the computer. Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen spent many hours at the computer, eventually causing their grades to suffer from skipped classes and late homework. When they were given a new system to work with, they hacked into the system to make it so that the computer did not record the t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ever since PS/2 fiasco, Microsoft backstabbing IBM on account of OS/2 and rise of Wintel trust, Microsoft was having the last word in design of PC hardware and controlled the evolution of PC.

    It is still so, because, unfortunately, various Windows are still most ubiquituous, despite recent explosive proliferation of free OS's. I am certain they are cospiring to, using DRM as an excuse, lock free competition out, by bullying hardware vendors into ever tighter subjugation to themselves. In the end (and I suppo
  • is, "We don't want to be bothered with you unless you have a lot of money we can transfer from your bank accounts to ours.
  • by LordMyren (15499)
    I was ranting about this a couple weeks ago for the guy who wanted to stream all sound off his windows computer [slashdot.org]. There used to be a fake sound card drive which would pipe to esound, but it was for WinNT4, back when DDK was free, or at least included with Visual Studios.

    1997 is calling. they want their news back assholes. and i want my fucking mod points you didnt give me the first time around for this story.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @12:54PM (#14627007)
    There once was a bus system called the Microchannel. In its age, it was revolutionary. Look it up, and be stunned by the opportunities this system presented. Remember, this was the age of ISA (Not even VLB, heck, not even EISA and faaaaar from PCI) cards.

    It was good. Unlike the DRM junk, this was REALLY good. It only had one single flaw:

    IBM threatened to execute patent rights. And the card manufacturers were afraid they couldn't actually make a buck with MCA cards after paying royalties to IBM for the patents.

    So most of them, besides a few big players, went down the conservative road and decided it would be better to stick with ISA. It's slower, yes, it's limited, yes, but at least we can actually make a buck there.

    Customers split up. Those who decided to stick with ISA, to be compatible with their old hardware, hardware they needed and was not available on MCA, and those who stood true to IBM and trusted them to create new line of hardware. The first group saw that they could get cheaper hardware, not only add-on cards but even the "main machine" from 3rd party vendors that are still compatible with their old ISA cards.

    The other group went after the first when IBM decided to dump the Microchannel Architecture in the early 90s, leaving their customers with big investments that led into a dead end, forcing them to buy completely new hardware altogether as well. And understandably, they did not want to sink more money into IBM...

    And the MCA, which was a great design, went away before it even started to fly. And marked one of the cornerstones of IBMs decline from THE computer company to ONE computer company today.

    Let's hope DRM will be the same for MS.
  • by SiliconEntity (448450) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:15PM (#14627963)
    As I understand it the problem is that Microsoft has to validate submitted drivers to see that they follow the DRM rules and don't have any back doors to let content be extracted. This is a big job so they can't afford to do it for every driver that any person feels like submitting, opening themselves up to a sort of DOS attack. By charging a fee for submissions they limit their work to only people who are really serious about it, and shut out the merely curious and those who hate DRM and would try to monkey-wrench it.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:16PM (#14627966)
    Just replace 'hobbyists' with 'Open Source programmers' and you'll have what Billy boy is really saying. It's always about obstructing competition. Always.
  • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:17PM (#14627980) Homepage Journal
    There may be another reason for restricting the developer set. Keep in mind that this isn't a general restriction, it's only in the area of DRM.

    From what I remember, DVD CSS was cracked because one company used a weak key. That key was SO bad it was fairly easy to brute-force, and then there were more fundamental weaknesses that allowed them to extract the other keys, given the first one.

    Had there never been a weak key, perhaps DVD John never would have gotten his 15 minutes of fame.

    So perhaps this DRM developer restriction is to make sure that nobody makes a weak key, that they do a better job of educating this smaller set of developers.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Thursday February 02, 2006 @02:43PM (#14628282) Journal
    Okay... lemme see if I have this straight.

    Microsoft wants companies to pay them if they plan on writing software that works on Windows. If they don't pay, they don't get a "certificate" from microsoft, and they intend for Windows to refuse to execute any software that doesn't have this special "certificate"?

    This sounds conspicuously like "pay us a 'protection' fee so nothing 'bad' will happen".

  • by geekee (591277) on Thursday February 02, 2006 @03:47PM (#14628910)
    WMA is chump change compared to Fairplay. Why isn't someone complaining that you can't license Fairplay for any price? Apple has a monopoly on audio DRM, at least a monopoly in the same sense that MS has a monopoly in the OS realm.

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