One of the buzz phrases you’re going to hear about more as we get closer to the launch of Windows Vista is the concept of “Trusted Computing.” Microsoft has already started hyping trusted computing as the end of the virus threat, but there’s more to the story than they’re letting on. This short film on Trusted Computing by Benjamin Stephan and Lutz Vogel gives a small overview of what trusted computing originally meant and how the industry is interpreting it.
Microsoft came under a lot of fire when they first announced their plans for trusted computing in the next version of Windows in part because not only could it be used to lock out viruses, but also potentially users from their own data. Since then Microsoft has scaled back what Vista will have in the way of trusted computing support, but the underlying base is still present and once they get folks used to buying PCs that have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips in them it’s only a matter of updating the software to enable the rest of the features originally planned. Also not mentioned is how the TPM chip may be used to try and cut into the amount of piracy of all kinds on your PC. Already Microsoft has announced that with Windows Vista if you want to play HD-DVD or Blu-Ray content on your PC you’re going to need a HDCP compatible monitor. HDCP stands for High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection and it’s a form of Digital Rights Management that encrypts the video signal sent to your monitor so you can’t do something sneaky like put a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc recorder between your PC and the monitor to record the content. Incidentally, you can’t purchase a HDCP monitor yet and none are expected before 2007.
Not that Microsoft is alone in promoting this technology. Apple’s move to Intel based processors for their next line of machines had a lot of folks thinking that they’d soon be able to buy OS X and slap it onto whatever PC they wanted to, but Apple is planning on making use on their own TPM chips to ensure that the only hardware you can run OS X on is whatever over-priced pieces they decide to sell you. With that chip already in place it’s once again only a matter of Apple deciding to use it for other forms of Digital Rights Management for it to happen.
The problem, of course, is that the only people this stuff is really going to hurt in the long run will likely be the honest users who suddenly find that some of their fair use rights have been effectively stripped from them by the hardware and software makers who are trying to kiss the entertainment industry’s ass. It’s likely that all of this stuff will have no impact on the folks who are pirating software, music or movies to any great degree. You can already download one of the development copies of the Intel based OS X and find instructions on the Net on how to get around the TPM protection that’s supposed to keep it from running on non-Apple approved hardware. It’s surprisingly easy actually—just delete a couple of files here and there—the hard part is making sure the hardware you’ve got will work with it as there’s limited drivers for OS X for anything that isn’t Apple approved. So in the end the legit users get shafted and the only folks who will have full control over their PCs will be the pirates.
Link found via Boing Boing.