Thursday, April 05, 2007

Microsoft Vista may follow the DAT into oblivion

I was reading this article (linked by digg) and stopped about the Digital Audio Tape.

DAT was technologically cool, lossless digital (which implied perfect copies and reproduction), had higher quality than CDs being sampled at higher frequencies (48 KHz versus 44.1 KHz), it filled the need to record audio very well, and it could be implemented affordably by the technology of the time. In fact, it had everything going for it, but it flopped... It was so good that the RIAA felt threatened which led it to lobby and to win the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which set a number of catastrophic precedents regarding innovation, fair use, and copywrongs. Please go to the wikipedia article on this subject.

What was the end result? That the format couldn't prosper due to the shackles imposed by the RIAA, shackles like impeding second generation copies, and it was eventually overtaken by CDRs and other techniques to record and copy audio until major manufacturers like Sony announced it was discontinued. Dead.

Well, Microsoft had a chance to convert its Operating System into *THE* platform for delivery of entertainment, including Audio and Movies just the way it made it THE platform for games. But it chose to shackle it with DRM infections.

Let's step back: the reason why XP Media Center edition never caught on is simple: Media Center is not aimed at simplyfiying the process of media reproduction in computers, that is the subterfuge used to market it; in reality it was aimed at "Microsoftize" Media. That is, to force users to use tools that Microsoft can control, preferrably Media Player, but if not possible, Quicktime, Real Player, that must pay royalties and have deep ties to Microsoft; what must be avoided are Free and Open Source codecs and players that can not be controlled.

There is no technical reason why you wouldn't be able to have a TV tuner in one computer and be able to broadcast that video through your wireless Wi-Fi or the internet to watch it anywhere you feel like other than the artificial restrictions that Media companies impose on computer product vendors (or the restrictions that the vendors themselves install to lock customers).

The reason for the lack of innovation in Vista is slightly more subtle, the emphasis in control:

The media companies don't want to devalue their content by liberal distribution and easy copying; that's why they drag their feet to make use of the exciting possibilities of the new technologies for distribution. Seeing the opportunity, Microsfot promises a carefully controlled platform to the Media companies and markets it to the public making use just the bare minimum of innovation it takes for user acceptance; but very importantly, Microsoft retains all of the final authority power over the platform; and then the Media companies become interested. If the users put up with the impediments to fair use, then Vista will become the sole channel for the distribution of premium content; and that is what Microsoft is after: To leverage its monopoly on operating systems to create a monopoly of content distribution. The problem is that in a carefully controlled platform there is no innovation. Innovation is a surprise, precisely the thing that control tries to abolish.

Thus the real problem (for Microsoft and the Media companies) is that while they can insist on control and thus force their initiatives to be devoid of innovation, the rest of the world is still free to innovate, and the innovation will still show up, and be superior to what Microsoft and associates offer.

Buy Microsoft Vista, and join the "Brave New World" of shackled technological development, enjoy your DRM infection and the computer telling you exactly what you can do and what you can not, become complacent. Do not ever break the inertia to try Free and Open Source Software, you may actually learn about their possibilities and become a criminal element of society who thinks that it is Okay to use good quality software without paying any money; a sociopath who thinks that you should be allowed to do whatever you want with your computer.

P.S.: You may feel enthusiastic about asking to your representatives to support the imposition of DRM restrictions like the "broadcasting flag" for digital Radio and TV technologies


Eddie said...

Check this article, speaking of the many dubiously useful applications, trials, "security" software that comes in new machines like Sony Vaios and even pay to view movies occupying 4 Gb of harddrive:

"The problem is a lack of respect for the consumer. The manufacturers don't act as if the computer belongs to you. They act as if it is a billboard for restricted trial versions of software and ads for Web sites and services that they can sell to third-party companies who want you to buy these products."