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Microsoft: yes, we have no incompatibilities

From DR-DOS to DRM

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Marsh agrees that Vista's DRM taxes the CPU. He dodges the issue of Vista's specs making hardware more expensive by saying that integrating DRM onto the chip in volumes will eventually bring the price down. (That's a "yes", then).

He agrees that S/PDIF, component video and audio are degraded, but says they are already in Windows XP and invoked when requested - and he passes the blame onto Hollywood. He refutes Gutmann's claim that playing back protected content degrades the rest of Vista video output. (Gutmann cited the hypothetical case where medical images would be displayed in lower than optimal resolution when a protected High Definition DVD was being played at the same time - although if your radiographer is watching Porkys III Hi-Def Edition while looking at your scans, we suggest you find a new radiographer).

Marsh confirms that "tilt bits" will cause problems, but he ducks the question of what circumstances will cause tilt bits to be set, and throws the responsibility back on to the hardware vendors. He writes:

"It is pure speculation to say that things like voltage fluctuations might cause a driver to think it is under attack from a hacker. It is up to a graphics IHV to determine what they regard as an attack. Even if such an event did cause playback to stop, the user could just press 'play' again and carry on watching the movie (after the driver has re-initialized, which takes about a second)."

And... then what? Wait for another tilt bit reset, we guess, from speculative causes.

That sure sounds like a fun evening in!

And we throw Marsh's reply to the F/OSS drivers issue open to you. Marsh asks,

"Do things such as HFS (Hardware Functionality Scan) affect the ability of the open-source community to write a driver?" And Marsh answers... "No. HFS uses additional chip characteristics other than those needed to write a driver. HFS requirements should not prevent the disclosure of all the information needed to write drivers." Gutmann, who isn't named in Marsh's ventriloquist routine, isn't impressed.

"Saying 'we were only following orders' has historically proven not to be a very good excuse," he told the BBC News Online website. "If you have got the protection measures there, the impulse is to use the most stringent ones at your disposal."

We'll deal with events taking place in freezing Iowa in a more detail in a follow-up tomorrow, but the basic facts are as follows. The case has been a replay of Caldera vs Microsoft, with evidence brought in from other investigations. Caldera had inherited DR-DOS from Novell. Suit was filed in July 1996, and discovery continued throughout 1998 and 1999, with a serious of unfavourable judgements against Microsoft, one of which expanded the scope of the lawsuit. Microsoft settled just a week before it was due to go to court in January, paying Caldera $275m in damages. We covered the trial in detail at the time (list of links here, juiciest quotes here.)

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