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Vista DRM broken already?

While Gates closes up on £ for $ pricing

The next step in data security

Two controversial aspects of Microsoft's Vista were conspicuous by their absence at yesterday's launch event - neither digital rights management nor the way Microsoft will shut down or reduce the functionality of software it considers to be an illegal copy were mentioned.

But Microsoft's DRM protection has already been broken according to a well-known security blogger and Microsoft Student Ambassador.

DRM restricts the kind of media content you can use on your Vista machine. This is meant to make life harder for pirates but in practice, as Sony learnt, it can make life harder for honest users too.

Alex Ionescu said on his blog that he had written code which could be used to bypass Vista's DRM - more details here. Ionescu has not published the code but promises in a later post to publish "some safe, generic, proof of concept code that targets what I believe is a flaw in the Code Integrity/Driver Signing model.".

Ionescu should know what he's talking about. He's a (possibly soon to be former) Microsoft Student Ambassador. These straight arrows are apparently: "the most talented students from around the world for their dedication, passion and involvement with Microsoft."

This is likely to be the first of many such problems as an informal army of unwashed hackers starts to target the software.

Meanwhile, the company has begun drawing flak on its UK pricing for the new software.

Gates was challenged yesterday on why the price of Vista is the same in dollars and in pounds - the basic edition is £99 in the UK versus $99 in the US. One US dollar is currently worth 51 UK pence.

Gates told the BBC: "Well we try and keep our prices largely in line country to country, I haven't followed currency rates that may have made that drift."

Just for the record Bill, a pound has been costing at least $1.90 for the best part of a year, according to MSN's currency calculator here

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