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Coursey on Palladium 542

lrose writes "Check out this story over at ZDNet -- Microsoft is developing a secure operating system to be combined with hardware doing public key cryptography. The DRM aspect reminds me of something I read about an imaginary day in the not-too-distant future, where you can no longer install Linux on your own box because you don't have the necessary rights." Coursey's column is quite interesting, bringing a lot more of the backstory behind Palladium into public view. While geeks have been following and worrying about the TCPA, Microsoft has been working to spin the story with assorted columnists and journalists, so that when it broke it would be in the context that Steven Levy bought into hook, line and sinker: a scheme to protect you rather than one to prevent you from using your computer in unapproved ways.
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Coursey on Palladium

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  • too late (Score:4, Funny)

    by WinDoze ( 52234 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:22PM (#3807911)
    prevent you from using your computer in unapproved ways

    I already have a wife to do this for me.
  • Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:24PM (#3807928) Journal
    Other than Levy, I haven't seen anyone saying that Palladium is even likely to be a good thing. The best people seem to hope for it is that it won't be terrible, and that consumers will avoid it the way they did DIVX.

    Which they can. If new systems come Palladium-enabled, don't buy them. Unless you're a hardcore gamer, what would you need an 8GHz system with 2gb ram and 1tb hard drive for anyway?

    • what would you need an 8GHz system with 2gb ram and 1tb hard drive for anyway?

      3d porn?

    • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DoctorGrim ( 589154 )
      Well eventually we're going to have to upgrade right? And even if you try and build your own computer, I thought there was something about AMD and Intel making deals with Microsoft to build this copyright stuff right into the chip? Then again, I could be wrong.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Dalcius ( 587481 )
        I thought there was something about AMD and Intel making deals with Microsoft to build this copyright stuff right into the chip?

        You're right. That's the TCPA issue, and what scares me is that Senator Fritz from CA is trying to make this law.

        I don't think it'll happen, but they're trying, which is why we must be vigilant.
        • Just a comment. Sen. Fritz is from Disney^H^H^H^H^H^HSouth Carolina.

          Of course, Feinstein is also a whore for Disney, but at least Disney is in her state.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aredubya74 ( 266988 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:30PM (#3807987)
      The problem with this thinking is that many American consumers remain entirely ignorant about what's under the hood as far as their OS is concerned. From Windows 3.11 to Windows XP, if it came on the PC, it was called "Windows", and it just sort of was there. Thus, if PC retailers buy in to Palladium, the vast majority of consumers will pick it up too. MS will get their cash, the [RI||MP]AA will get their DRM-based OS, and a lot of folks will get screwed in the process.

      Rest assured, those of us that build our own systems will rely on Linux and non-DRM'ed Windows (if available). But for the masses, they take what they get, and they use it.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:42PM (#3808104) Journal
        But that's what people said about the 'inevitable' success of DIVX! That American consumers cared not for the underlying tech, and would buy it if it was offered!

        They didn't buy it.

        • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Insightful)

          by TheTrunkDr. ( 516695 )
          You also had the choice when buying the DVD player at the time, if the only option when buying a new DVD player was DIVX, people would have bought it. We were also lucky we got away from it because it was a new and expensive technology and the people who were buying it were technophiles that knew what they were buying did the research, and knew what DIVX was all about. This isn't going to be the case with an already existing product (PC's). They're already cheap, and purchased by the masses who don't do the research don't know what they're buying or what it can really be used for. If you're in the market for a PC and don't really know what you want/need or what's available, you're going to end up with the latest windows. PC's don't have a small niche well informed market to insolate the users, the way DVD players did back in the day.
          • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ink ( 4325 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:58PM (#3810373) Homepage
            This isn't going to be the case with an already existing product (PC's). They're already cheap, and purchased by the masses who don't do the research don't know what they're buying or what it can really be used for. If you're in the market for a PC and don't really know what you want/need or what's available, you're going to end up with the latest windows. PC's don't have a small niche well informed market to insolate the users, the way DVD players did back in the day.

            But their Macintosh-using friends (c'mon, everyone knows at least one of them) will be constantly singing praises such as "_my_ computer doesn't tell me that those media files are protected". The same will be true for guru PC users; you know, cousin "Joe" who disseminates advice to everyone will tell people to avoid certain computers like the plauge. The DRM machines may very well be established, and Dell (Gateway, HP, blah) may very well exclusivly sell DRM boxes -- but the small guys won't and the savvy buyers won't, and those people have a bunch of influence.

            • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

              by krmt ( 91422 )
              Sure, the Mac will be one way out, but most people won't be willing to switch. Linux may be really ready for everyone by that point (I think it's ready for most people, but not everyone yet). But for those who want to run windows and are scared to learn something new, they won't have any options. Remember, the decoding hardware will be on the CPU itself, not some add-on IC or something in the motherboard. You're not going to be able to avoid the hardware in a clone PC, and the only way to get around it potentially is to run software that ignores it. Windows will not ignore it.

              Linux had better be fully ready for the desktop by that point.
              • Re:Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

                by kcbrown ( 7426 )
                Remember, the decoding hardware will be on the CPU itself, not some add-on IC or something in the motherboard. You're not going to be able to avoid the hardware in a clone PC, and the only way to get around it potentially is to run software that ignores it.

                You won't be able to run software that ignores it.

                Just think: who exactly will be in control of the root certificates? I can almost guarantee it won't be anyone who likes Linux.

                The biggest danger I see here is that TCPA compliant hardware will eventually refuse to load anything that isn't signed directly or indirectly by one or more of the root certificates. Oh, sure, the spec right now may call for the ability to load untrusted code, with the caveat that such untrusted code won't be able to view DRM-protected files, but come on -- how long do you really think it'll be before the spec is "improved" to remove that annoying feature?

      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw&snkmail,com> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:51PM (#3808169) Journal
        "The problem with this thinking is that many American consumers remain entirely ignorant about what's under the hood as far as their OS is concerned. From Windows 3.11 to Windows XP, if it came on the PC, it was called "Windows", and it just sort of was there. Thus, if PC retailers buy in to Palladium, the vast majority of consumers will pick it up too. MS will get their cash, the [RI||MP]AA will get their DRM-based OS, and a lot of folks will get screwed in the process."

        In the midst of all this, I can't help wondering about Apple. They just started their hardcore '' campaign with TV ads where people talk about how they switched away from their 'horrid little PCs.' Maybe the timing was not by accident. Perhaps they are trying to gain critical mass so they can facilitate a mass switch at the time they estimate Palladium hardware will appear in real machines.

        The strategists at Apple must be following this news very closely -- they are probably working on their strategy right now. Rip/Mix/Burn is probably only the beginning. I expect that they will try to equate MacOS with Freedom while Windows == The Borg or something similar.

        Yes, Steve Jobs is licking his lips right now. He and his team are laying the foundations right now in preparation for a possible mass exodus from windows, wanting to make sure Apple's arms are waiting and open and they have critical mass in users so popular opinion and word of mouth will divert former Windows users onto MacOS. (I certainly think that this is more likely than a mass exodus into Linux!)

        I think that things are gonna get interesting.

      • by Dalcius ( 587481 ) <chrism3413+slashdot@gma i l .com> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:59PM (#3808235)
        Disclaimer: opinion follows. Notice sig.

        Once businesses change over to a Linux desktop to avoid subscription licensing fees, software lock-in, and improve interoperability (read: open standards), people will learn Linux. They will see how fast, easy, stable and simple it is to use for normal applications.
        *Note: before you debate me on these points, please take the time to use a RH 7.x system with Ximian GNOME - install and usage really is simple for the avg. joe. At least it is for my family and friends.

        Once employees see this, they'll want Linux at home. And the Linux desktop market will develop, much like it did with Windows in the early 90's. Wal-Mart and Fry's already sell lower-end Linux based PCs. I've heard speculation for a long time that the retailers would never sell a Linux box until a market developed.

        Honestly, I don't see a feasible market at the moment, besides selling to Linux junkies like myself. Over about 95% of all desktops today are running Windows, a few percent are Macs, and even fewer (desktops, mind you, not total boxen) run Linux. Even so, Wal-Mart, a very large company, is investing in a tiny sliver of the desktop market.

        Maybe they're willing to take a greater risk than many of us thought? Maybe their ITs have more insight into the future of the desktop than many of us thought? I can't find any other reason than those -- if anyone has any ideas, please say so.

        One thought is that Macs are still around and don't have but a few percent. Although this is comparable to Linux, Linux is new and there is no guarantee of returned money on an investment. Mac junkies have been around for quite some time, and have continued to purchase Macs.

        In either case, two years ago, I didn't think Linux was for anyone but developers. Now my mom can use it, and she's not even average when it comes to computer literacy. Linux has come so far in the last 2 years that I don't see how it can't go further. The user and developer bases are growing, and it looks like Linux is here to stay.

        Stability and options have been here. Features (e.g. virtual desktops) have been here. Openness and freedom have been here. Ease of use is becoming more common, and the user base is growing. The only thing this Linux junkie sees missing is application/file-type support, but that is coming as well, and quickly.

        I forsee Linux busting into the desktop market and becoming a serious contender within two years. Of course it will take time for a large change, but I think it's coming.
        • by schmaltz ( 70977 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:27PM (#3809043)
          install and usage really is simple for the avg. joe.

          Installation of a Windows or Mac software package is *nothing* like on a Linux box. Flame me if you will, I just don't know what to call this expectation on the part of Linux jocks -egoism, chauvinism- but downloading and manually building a package and its dependencies, sometimes rebuilding the kernel. It's just not the same as an installshield-type GUI installer, and I won't apologize for it.

          Debian comes closer on this -this is my daily system. Even though I love it, I could never, ever expect family members or non-tech friends to support their own system. If they lived under the same roof, yes, of course. But to hand somebody a CD and say, go ahead, you can replace your Windows installation, is just silly. Your typical non-tech won't make it past disk partitioning unaided.

          Take, f'rinstance, video formats. Yes, there is a package now for viewing AVIs under Linux. But to get it working is another matter. And compare Mac TCP/IP versus Linux -a single, simple dialog box versus the commandline (yes, I know various distros have dialogs too, but they mostly suck, and I'm talking about Linux common denominators here.)

          In order for Linux to "rule" the desktop (as many hope it will), there needs to be the same simplicity in setup, maintenance and use as its competition- MacOS and Windows. Otherwise, Linux will never get more marketshare.
    • by zapf ( 119998 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:33PM (#3808026)
      [time machine travels back ten years]

      What would you need a 2.4ghz system with 256mb of ram and 80gb(!!) of hard drive space for???? My god!
      • For many the answer has been "I don't" for quite a few years, now. Remember when the PC first came out, they were in the $2k-$3k range. For over a decade after that $2k and $3k defined the breakpoints for "economy", "regular", and "gonzo" PCs. People upgraded as often as they felt they could afford, and bought another PC for the same price, getting better hardware.

        Then somewhere in the early 90's something strange happened. The "economy" people found that they had enough speed. Newer "economy" users found that they could buy cheaper PCs, and get acceptable performance. Thus was born the sub-$1k PC, and the trend has continued.

        I suspect there's a desire to push the "economy" users away from a PC and to an appliance. This seems to have two approaches, the X-Box and Palladium.

        Let's hear it for Rhodomagnetism and the Palladium triad.
    • by Agave ( 2539 )
      Unless you're a hardcore gamer, what would you need an 8GHz system with 2gb ram and 1tb hard drive for anyway?

      Microsoft Office Palladium Edition.

    • Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sulli ( 195030 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:38PM (#3808057) Journal
      Linux preloads are available now, and one can still build PCs from motherboards, and there is that other company in Cupertino that still makes really pretty laptops, so there is precisely NO reason to subject oneself to this abuse by Microsoft if one does not wish to.

      What, do the promoters of Palladium think they can ban motherboards, hard drives, memory, and so on? Good fucking luck on that one.

      • by sulli ( 195030 )
        The number of people who have not upgraded from Windows 98 (including myself) is enormous. If MS thinks they will all suddenly disappear, it's on severe crack. My guess is that they do not, but that they think this is where the $$ is, so they're spending the time there - if they are unsuccessful (as I think they will be), then it's just another failed experiment, of which Microsoft has many in its history.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

      That's the interesting twist to the whole of Microsoft's dilemma: How do we encourage users to keep upgrading their PC/OS every 12~18 months? Right now an entry-level PC (1GHz PIII/256MB RAM/40GB Disk/GF2) is in actuality a VERY heavy duty piece of hardware - *unless you play games*. Only when someone needs their PC for 3D graphics does faster hardware become necessity - under Windows 2000/XP. That same configuration would serve a Linux user for virtually every common task a PC gets used for - and would do so for a considerable time in the future. Right now there is no need for the average user to upgrade. But if Micro$oft can convince the Average User to upgrade through "value added" features (read:software bloat)- *that* is when the gotcha strikes. All of the Value Added pieces are part of the new DRM OS. And *those* PCs will likely not be able to install/utilise GPL software. At least not for free - which is half the point of owning the stuff anyway.

      If there was ever a need for Linux that time is now. Palladium makes me fear for the future of the free PC. One of the things IMHO that has kept the PC platform alive and vibrant is the fact that the whole thing is (generally) open. Add in what expansion cards/OS/storage system/video/audio you like - the PC is YOURS to use/expand/customise as you like. Micro$oft has forgotten this - assuming they ever knew it.
    • Well...MS is trying to get as many businesses as possible on the upgrade treadmill license. If you have enough of them hooked, just upgrade them to the Palladium version of software (aw, gee, you have to replace all your hardware? that's too bad...). There'd need to be a MS Palladium Office that could read old Office documents but not vice versa, of course, so that anyone wanting to communicate with them has to switch to Palladium Office as well, which requires a Palladium OS, etc.
    • by Interrobang ( 245315 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:56PM (#3808206) Journal
      Ok, somebody explain this Bad Thing even further. Maybe I'm just not understanding this part, but what happens to files that you create under this system? Who owns them? Who gives you a "certificate" to distribute them if you so choose? Do they just fall through the cracks as "unauthenticated" (and therefore, we presume, untrustworthy) content?

      What about situations like me here at work? Here I sit using what is, technically, somebody else's computer to do my work (create my content). Do I then have to get my boss to "authenticate" every little thing I want to use for my portfolio (a provision I'm allowed already without additional paperwork under our work-for-hire agreement -- don't start on that, it sucks) or something, f'rinstance? How is that supposed to work?

      I mean, protecting the MP/RIAA/et al's content is all very well and good (for them!), but what about the rest of us who aren't bound by their rules?

      Seems to me this initiative tars with an awfully broad brush, so to speak. (And fixes to leave a horrible sticky mess in its wake, too.)
      • by Perianwyr Stormcrow ( 157913 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @03:12PM (#3809476) Homepage
        If you're producing anything that has any sort of connection with the real world, be it scanned artwork, pictures from a digital camera, or line audio, you will eventually have to get a license to do so.

        Any successful DRM scheme demands that any holes which connect the computer with the real world be closed. Through watermarking systems, it is theoretically possible that what you see and hear yourself can't be copied.

        We are entering an age where each individual has an unprecedented amount of freedom to record and interpret his experiences. Unfortunately, the folks whose job it's traditionally been to do these things are not terribly thrilled about this.

        So they're seizing the means of production.
    • I take it you've never done any video editing.
      50 minutes of uncompressed video (Digital8, NTSC, firewire, captured in P6) equals just about 12 gigs of disk space.
      Do some basic editing and rending and you'll see why todays machines still aren't fast enough. I'm on a 1.7ghz machine and I start a mildly complex render....and then leave for lunch.
      Plus, you don't need to be a "hardcore gamer" to need these specs -- even a casual gamer in todays world needs a badass machine. Look at recommended requirements for Neverwinter nights.... you need a powerhouse just to PLAY the thing, let alone be "hardcore" about it and worry about fps. Doom3 is coming out too, and don't expect that to be any easier on your system.
      Remember....these games are extremely popular, and not only "hardcore gamers" play games, other people do too.
    • what would you need an 8GHz system with 2gb ram and 1tb hard drive for anyway?

      So I can get better than 20 fps in Balmora (Morrowind reference)

    • I've seen a couple of Palladium puff pieces in the mainstream press, can't recall URLs. As I see it, the pro-Palladium pieces are from journalists MS contacted directly with its propaganda back when there wasn't a whole lot out on Palladium. Any journalist who researches Palladium now will find plenty of news. All bad.

      I think we've already seen as much favorable coverage on it as we're going to, except in the cases where Microsoft has figured out how to buy good press from editors or "journalists".

  • Add on Card (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nairnr ( 314138 )
    I think it would make more sense if such a hardware crypto device would be viewed as such -- a device. The computer is not "self aware", If you were to install another OS on it, and it didn't have a driver for it then you won't be able to take advantage of the device. Just as if you have a video card that supports 3D acceleration but you don't have the proper driver. You can still view stuff but can't take advantage of the extra functions.
    • The problem there is that some people might not use those devices and then Microsoft and "content owners" would not be able to control those computers.
  • ...and Cringeley (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:26PM (#3807942) Journal
    Not worth a story of its own, but Robert Cringeley brags in this week's column [] that Palladium is the Microsoft attempt to replace TCP/IP that he was predicting a year ago.
  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:26PM (#3807947) Journal
    On the X-box? You can only run signed programs. Modifying the X-box is a circumvention of a device that's illegal under the DMCA. All Microsoft has to do is port Office and IE to the X-box and voila. Dump Windows and get the masses using X-boxen for their secure and safe computing needs....

  • "The DRM aspect reminds me of something I read about an imaginary day in the not-too-distant future, where you can no longer install Linux on your own box because you don't have the necessary rights."

    That would be this [] article linked to from slashdot some weeks ago. It is beginning to sound like the voice of prophecy.

  • by Jabroni54 ( 320749 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:27PM (#3807952)
    Snipped from an e-mail at work.....

    TCPA / Palladium Frequently Asked Questions

    Version 0.1 26 June 2002
    Ross Anderson

    1. What are TCPA and Palladium?

    TCPA stands for the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA), an initiative led by Intel. Their website is here. Their stated goal is `a new computing platform for the next century that will provide for improved trust in the PC platform.' Palladium appears to be a Microsoft version which will be rolled out in future versions of Windows, will build on TCPA hardware, and will add some extra features. The Palladium announcement appears to have been provoked by a paper I presented on the security issues relating to open source and free software at a conference on Open Source Software Economics in Toulouse on the 20th June. This paper criticised TCPA as anticompetitive. This has been amply confirmed by new revelations over the past few days.

    For the rest:

    TCPA/Palladium FAQ []

    • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @01:13PM (#3808334)

      Ross Anderson's paper should be required reading. But then that's just my HO.

      Just what is so untrustworthy of the PC platform? NOTHING! The platform itself is just fine for what it is supposed to be. It's the software that makes it untrustworthy. Or the people managing that software (who allow breaches through social engineering to occur). So adding a new bit of hardware is going to protect us from irresponsible people?

      IBM's computers are not considered untrustworthy. Is it because of special security hardware? NO. It's because the operating systems are written with security in mind from the beginning and not bolted on afterwards. Similarly, other platforms have been considered trustworthy without requiring custom PKI hardware. Wasn't it a system running VMS that resisted all attempts to crack it at the last Defcon? No special security hardware is part of an Alphaserver.

      Why has security, all of a sudden, become a hardware problem. Well, Microsoft tries to paint the PC platform as insecure and untrustworthy in an attempt to divert attention from the fact that it's been their software that has been the reason for all the security breaches. The hardware vendors go along with this because of the lure of future CPU and systems sales. IMO, the purpose of Palladium (and TCPA) is to solve an economic problem for some software and hardware vendors.

      Remember, Microsoft decided that the best way to deal with the security problems with their software was to hire a lawyer to be their chief security honcho and not someone with extensive credentials in computer security. Rather telling, eh?

  • Only Outlaws Will Have {Free|Net|Open}BSD/Linux.
  • imaginary day (Score:2, Interesting)

    The imaginary day in the not-too-distant future is described at the GNU web site. []
  • Trusted Computing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:30PM (#3808000) Homepage Journal
    Remember, Trusted Computing means that large corporations get to trust your hardware because they don't trust you...
  • by zapf ( 119998 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:31PM (#3808009)
    Where in this article, or the previous articles, does it say that the hardware would not let alternative operating systems be installed? Will only operating systems that use the key embedded into the hardware be "allowed" to install? And if so, how the hell can they accomplish this? It seems like if you can install linux or an older version of windows without using the public/private key stuff then it isn't as much the horrible linux-killing initiative some make it out to be. I'm not trying to troll, flamebait, etc., I'm just curious.
    • Cringley's article (referenced in a couple other responses) notes that the encryption will have to apply to the networks stack as well, in order to be effective. Which he says will effectively transition us from TCP/IP to Palladium/P and make it difficult if not impossible for Linux and others who do not/cannot affort do license the stack from M$ out in the cold on the internet.

      Whether this is a reasonable belief, I leave as an exercise to the reader. I am not going to endorse or refute it here.

    • Because this project includes changing the computer hardware to include a PKI chip, it is possible to design the hardware such that it will not boot at all without a Palladium-enabled OS. It is possible to design the hardware such that all of the data on the hard drive is encrypted (transparently, in the background) and even removing the hard drive to a non-Palladium computer won't get you the data. Indeed, moving the hard drive to a different Palladium computer won't get you the data.

  • Palladium will die because it forces every company aside from Microsoft to be reliant on MSFT for public key certification to their code will be 'trusted' on Palladium equipped systems. MSFT can charge whatever they want and engage in all preferential pricing and authorsations and delay the consequences for decades through appealing lawsuits and the like.

    The industry knows this and it will turn every company out there except perhaps AMD and Intel who would make the chips against MSFT. No company wants to be dependent on a competitor (especially MSFT) for having their software be seen as 'authorised' on systems in their target market. Even two years from now, ballmer and friends will not be strong enough to fight every other software company in the world united against them. Palladium will die, and MSFT will be pulled down with it if they cling to it strongly enough.

  • by splorf ( 569185 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:32PM (#3808019)
    Be very glad that your PC is insecure--it means that after you buy it, you can break into it and install whatever software you want. What YOU want, not what Sony or Warner or AOL wants.

    --John Gilmore (quoted in Ross Anderson, Security Engineering p. 413)
    Looks like Microsoft wants to fix that and make sure you can't control your own computer. That which is not forbidden will be compulsory.
  • NAZIWARE (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Yohahn ( 8680 )
    I agree with one of the "talkbacks" to the article.

    The name associated with this type of hardware/software shuold be called NAZIWARE.

    The justification is the potential that it has for controlling the masses. (Just like the Nazi's did)

    Promote the term. It would be a PR fiasco.
    • Re:NAZIWARE (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wattsman ( 75726 )
      Interesting idea, but according to Goodwin's Law, the first party in a discussion to mention "Hitler" or "Nazi" has lost the discussion.
      I wonder if the law should be updated to include "terrorist"?
      • by FreeUser ( 11483 )
        Interesting idea, but according to Goodwin's Law, the first party in a discussion to mention "Hitler" or "Nazi" has lost the discussion.

        Godwins Law is a joke.

        Seriously, it was a tounge in cheek joke about USENET flames of its day. It was never considered by its creator to be an actual, accurate commentary on internet speech, much less some deeply wise insight into the human psyche, and certainly not as a new "rule" of debate.

        In other words, Godwins Law was never intended to be used as relative newcomers to the net have come to use it today: to make the most potent lessons of modern history offlimits to any discussion that might benefit from contemplating those lessons, not least of which is a discussion of technology that is designed to excersize draconian prior restraint on how and perhaps even when people can use their own property, within their own home, by a large, convicted monopolist.

        NAZIWARE is the most appropriate term I've heard for Palladium/DRM since this entire debate began a few months ago. We should not dismiss it because of some misguided references to a tired old joke being bandied about as though they were some kind of deep Internet Wisdom.
    • The name associated with this type of hardware/software shuold be called NAZIWARE.


      Promote the term. It would be a PR fiasco.

      Yeah. Just like the term "tree-huggers" has sooo damaged environmental groups, right? And remember all the flak feminist groups took for that ever-so-clever "Femi-Nazis" quip?


      There are clever, catchy phrases that can seriously damage a group's reputation, and there are trite, sensationalist phrases that make the accusers look like a bunch of freakin' nutjobs.

      Which direction do you think the term "Naziware" leans?

      If you're going to fight this battle from a PR angle, at least try to come up with something slightly more clever than "Naziware".

      • Re:NAZIWARE (Score:2, Insightful)

        by anti-snot ( 555305 )
        "Slaveware" would probably be more apt. It has all of the connotations, with none of the reactionary bs associated with it. And it fits.
    • The "Nazi" thing is totally played out. Rush Limbaugh ruined it. Besides, when you start calling people nazis when they are not nazis, you are dismissed as a reactionary.
  • by Offwhite98 ( 101400 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:36PM (#3808044) Homepage
    With all these Linux companies, why can there not be a Linux PC or at least one that is not built around this new security hardware? Just because some of the industry heavyweights are behind it does not mean that all air will be pushed out of the room. Consider purchasing chips from Motorola and putting together motherboards based on the specs that IBM release a couple years back. BeOS use to run on it's own Be Box which was all custom hardware.

    I for one would be happy to have a Linux PC made by VA, AlienWare or even Dell if they produce good hardware which works well with Linux.

    Besides, who needs the hardware to do the security work? Sure you can use cipher/cryptography acceleration in hardware, but you do not have to be dependent on it. What Microsoft will find is they put all this work into a system which is still insecure because they still have a front door with holes through it. How long before a macro shares your private key with everyone on your Outlook Express mailing list. And when there is a hole that is found, do I now have to install a firmware update? That does not sound reasonable.

    This sounds like a joke, but Microsoft is known for making these mistakes. They even released the Nimba virus on their Korean distribution of their development suite.

    So instead of complaining that Microsoft, Intel and AMD are going to ruin the world for Linux, go out and build a business on better hardware which does not lock you into Microsoft. A modern BeBox similar to an Apple G4 system would be quite welcome as a Linux or FreeBSD system on my desk.

    Redhat and the new Linux partnerships should put their resources together and actually produce something, instead of more spin on Linux. Make something significant.
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:37PM (#3808053) Homepage Journal
    We're seeing the death of the commodity PC. There's just no money in it anymore, so Microsoft is coming up with this "secure" OS and strictly regulated approach to hardware in order to squeeze some more dough out. We've already seen Dell and Hpaq going down the tubes (relying on stuff like tying contracts to Dellnet, 24 hour tech support, etc to make money).

    Even Mom and Pop PC shops are in on these shenangins (one of my old favorites is now becoming a 'technology consulting firm'). If Microsoft tells them to jump, you bet they'll follow..the same goes with small hardware makers like D-Link and Intel.

    In a world of increasingly proprietary hardware, the only solution is buying from a company you can trust. I would suggest a Sun box or Mac for your next PC...or you'll probably have to do a lot of hacking just to get it to play MP3s.

    • In a world of increasingly proprietary hardware, the only solution is buying from a company you can trust.

      And (barring their joining the TCPA at some later date) that appears to be Apple at the moment.

    • by GCP ( 122438 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @01:49PM (#3808696)
      I'm assuming that by "commodity PC" you mean a standard x86 machine onto which you can install a non-MS x86 OS.

      If the chips/BIOS are set up in such a way as to literally prevent the installation of a non-MS OS onto the bare machine, then there will be enough market demand for machines without this restriction that the market will fork. I'm not claiming that it will fork half-and-half, just that there will be enough demand in the world to create a market. The market may be too small or politically sensitive for the likes of Dell or HPAQ, but some Asian manufacturer(s) could make a good living off that market.

      More likely, the existence of the extra crypto hardware can be accommodated by new designs in Linux/*BSD/etc. and might actually become quite useful to a user with complete personal control over its capabilities.

    • We're seeing the death of the commodity PC. There's just no money in it anymore, so Microsoft is coming up with this "secure" OS and strictly regulated approach to hardware in order to squeeze some more dough out.

      "Commodity" generally means that there isn't much profit in an industry.

      Also, RDRAM is an example of an attempted hardware hijacking of the industry (by Intel & Rambus) to de-commoditize PCs and reclaim profits on selling them. It didn't quite work out as planned.
    • I don't think it's a bad as that. Dell,, are trying to expand their revenue base (diversify if you like). Same reason GE didn't stop with making light bulbs. I do the same thing in my consulting business. Most of my customers that I do maintenance/consulting work for also use my web hosting service. It's not that I'm dying for cash, I'm trying to setup a recurring revenue stream and recurring revenue is a "good thing". No different than these guys. Well, a bit smaller scale....:)
  • But then some smart reporters--including Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft (a frequent radio guest of mine) and Newsweek's Steven Levy--discovered that Microsoft had filed for a patent on an operating system with built-in digital rights management features.

    Um, where in the hell does this leave everyone else? Microsoft is asking motherboard makers to include public-key crypo on the board, and Palladium by law is the only OS able to talk to the mb?

    Can you say monopoly, boys and girls?

    Anyone who buys into this crap should be given free knee pads.
    • Microsoft is asking motherboard makers to include public-key crypo on the board

      Just one thing. All the motherboard makers are in Taiwan and also sell to Asian and European markets. It's possible the RIAA, MPAA, MSFT, et al have the political clout to force TCPA and Palladium on the US market, but what country in their right mind would willingly cede control to Microsoft of the crypto keys that let their computers run? I predict a healthy supply of gray-market import motherboards.

  • PK Crypto (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jea6 ( 117959 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:38PM (#3808061)
    One concern I have about widespread distributions of current technology cryptography would be reliance on crypto that is based on difficult (and theoretically complex) calculations. If the only thing that keeps public crypto safe is, for example, the difficuly of factoring, it's safe to say that advances in technology will likely render that difficulty less implausible and more accessible. As Avi said (paraphrase): I want it secret until man is no longer capable of doing evil.

    Naturally, this is not an argument for an anti-crypto position. It is merely a caution for overreliance on the secure technologies of today.
  • Okay, here's a hypothetical situation. There is a company selling televisions (computers). And they like certaint television stations (operating systems). If I made a great television that had all kinds of fancy features, but it was biased towards certaint television stations in some way. or it did not function when VCRs of another brand were attatched to it. And this information was in the fine print and not made obvious when I purchased the television. Is that not illegal in some way?

    Now if they make an operating system that is very secure, and has all kinds of fancy features. But it will not function properly depending on what I want to do with it, or it will not allow me to do what I want with it, even though it's mine. Isn't that equally illegal?

    If it's not, it should be.
  • by PierceLabs ( 549351 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:39PM (#3808069)
    Last time I checked you couldn't circumvent fair use. By building a device that prevents fair use, this Trusted Computing group is creating a device that by its very nature defies the very statutes that the Supreme Court has said are legal!

    Specifically there are limits to Copyrights in the following scenarios:

    The copyright owner's exclusive rights are subject to a number of exceptions and limitations that give others the right to make limited use of a copyrighted work. Major exceptions and limitations are outlined in this section.

    Copyright protects only against the unauthorized taking of a protected work's "expression." It does not extend to the work's ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries.

    A work's facts are not protected by copyright, even if the author spent large amounts of time, effort, and money discovering those facts. Copyright protects originality, not effort or "sweat of the brow."

    Independent Creation
    A copyright owner has no recourse against another person who, working independently, creates an exact duplicate of the copyrighted work. The independent creation of a similar work or even an exact duplicate does not violate any of the copyright owner's exclusive rights.

    Fair Use
    The "fair use" of a copyrighted work, including use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. Copyright owners are, by law, deemed to consent to fair use of their works by others.

    The Copyright Act does not define fair use. Instead, whether a use is fair use is determined by balancing these factors:

    * The purpose and character of the use.
    * The nature of the copyrighted work.
    * The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
    * The effect of the use on the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

    But nothing in this specification speaks of how you will still be able to maintain your fair use rights. If they build it, people should proactively sue them because its a rights violation for it to exist at all.
    • Fair use only prevents them from giving you legal grief for using the technology. Nowhere does the law say that they have to make excercising your fair use convenient.

      It's like car stereos: Ford can't prevent me from swapping out the junk stereo they put in my car with a nice non-ford model, but if they don't put a DIN opening in the dash, it's gonne be really inconveniet for me to do so. Nobody says they have to make it easy, just that they can't sue you.
    • Last time I checked you couldn't circumvent fair use.

      IANAL but I believe fair use only applies to copyrighted works that you have purchased. Software is licensed. I believe Hollywood also considers DVDs to be software because it has a small amount of scripting on it. This means that you have to abide by the terms you and the owner of the copyright agreed to, what ever they may be. Unfortunately in the real world millions of people don't get an opportunity to negotiate the EULA (or even see it) before they purchase the product.

    • But nothing in this specification speaks of how you will still be able to maintain your fair use rights. If they build it, people should proactively sue them because its a rights violation for it to exist at all.
      If you're going to do that, then you better start with creating "fair use rights" because no such thing exists, as far as the law knows.

      That might be a good idea. But there's no way in hell that Congress is going to pass anything that creates fair use rights, when thay haven't even bothered to repeal DMCA. They've already taken a stand, and it's on the other side.

  • Is there a public interest that makes this too big for any one company or even country to dominate? (No, Microsoft is not yet a country, although buying one and becoming an offshore corporation always looms as a possibility, I suppose.)

    I think the buying one says it all. Looking at the numbers I really don't think it's completely unpractical for M$ to buy up some island nation and change the name. You know President Gates would try to work his way onto any number of international organizations (M$ is already more influential than many countries) and by pumping in cash via M$ to keep the standard of living high could demonstrate how the M$ homoculture and draconian IP laws are good for people and everyone should follow their utopian example. Sure it would make their dealings with other corporations a little more cumbersome but that's nothing that video conferencing wouldn't fix and you can't beat literally making your own laws (anti-trust? never heard of that).

    Of course this isn't something that would ever happen over the next few years but it isn't entirely inconcievable that they may move towards it in the long term (a good bludgeon to hold over the supreme courts head if MS doesn't like the lastest round of hearings). But then again it's not like they're doing to bad in the US, I mean they more or less own a good chuch of the legislators as it is and it's not like they pay taxes or anything:)
    • I think the buying one says it all. Looking at the numbers I really don't think it's completely unpractical for M$ to buy up some island nation and change the name

      So let them. Why do you care? It wouldn't change any fundamentals. Nobody is forced to buy their products. Actually, if they buy their own country, you could slap tariffs on them.

      • Even better you could declare war on them.
        As far as i know Terrorists use MS products (MS Flight Simulator for example)
        on their computers to coordinate there planning,
        lets start the bombing ;D
      • As long as they do so officially. They could always buy a country, unofficially, by bribing legislators, or lobbying for favorable laws. Oh wait--
  • this seems to me, like an attempt to extend their monopoly on desktop operating systems to hardware, finally, something they wish they'd been able to do for a while. since they own the desktop, productivity, internet browsing, email, and streaming media markets now, this is the next logical step in their "own the home PC" plan.

    i envision a future where this 'palladium' enabled operating system will ONLY run on "M$ certified" (read: kickback) hardware. how's that for grabbing the hardware vendors by the privates? "want our new stuff? pay us first, or your competitor will." they'll justify it to the hardware vendors easily - "hey now, if someone wants to get the new OS, they have to buy a new machine! it's win-win! (for us, and you, not the consumer)."

    sadly, at the core of the debate, is a fundamental flaw - relying on hardware to provide security to software. hardware still has to be interfaced with software, and therefore can be hijacked at that level. like dongles for high-end 3d programs? dongle emulators are written.

    the future of virii wil simply have to usurp the functionality of this protected 'hardware' and tell the operating system "hi, i'm the palladium chip. yes, it's okay to run this .vbs file."

    this sounds a lot more like a 'make people touch-feely that their privacy is being protected so they ignore the glaring security flaws in our software' PR move.
  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:43PM (#3808112) Homepage Journal
    I still think it won't [] work [].

    Two more reasons:

    • The EU still has a pending monopoly [] investigation [] on MS
    • Some EU institutions may not appreciate Palladium. For instance: would you trust Microsoft with the security of your armed forces if you were, say, the Swedish (neutral country) governement?

    You have to remember that this is the same company that used the ominous variable "NSA_KEY" in some of its security software... ;)

    Not that I believe the NSA was responsible of this particular blunder... =)
  • I didn't see Apple or Motorola listed at all in the list of "partners" involved at trying to foist this plan on the world.

    Seems another reason to switch []

  • by cananian ( 73735 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:44PM (#3808120) Homepage
    I believe that "that story [the poster] read somewhere" was Richard Stallman's "dystopian short story" The Right To Read []. I'd recommend giving it a gander, as it appears RMS was remarkable prescient: his story was published five years ago in the Communications of the ACM.
  • Kinda makes mac hardware with yellow dog or OS X seem like an attractive prospect, huh?
  • Mandatory Upgrades? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by simetra ( 155655 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:45PM (#3808127) Homepage Journal
    Uh... if you don't want this Palladium, and other up-and-coming tools of the devil, why not stick with what you have? The frenzy of the switch from Win3.1 is over - mostly. I actually know some people who still use it. It works. I think - and hope - the public has discovered that buying the Latest Version doesn't necessarily help anything, and can be a royal pain in the ass. I believe we're reaching a point where consumers will demand that these Wonderful New Versions are worth their time and energy. Perhaps they won't be spoon-fed whatever crap MS spits out.

    My 2 cents.

  • But what if... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ShaunDon ( 589695 )
    Alright, it's simple, we DON'T have to upgrade to Palladium... but Microsoft has a way of incorporating *just enough* (except in the case of ME) incremental improvements to make it worth our while. What if this is the watershed Windows platforms that finally delivers on all its promises? Across the board, including security? I'm afraid far too many people, people who even ordinarily would know better, might be enticed by that. But seriously. This definitely warrants a serious grass-roots counter-PR campaign. I'm certainly game. *grin*
    "I swear I way more than half-believe it when I say that somewhere love and justice shines" - The Weakerthans
  • I dont care. I will NOT switch to their new scheme, just as I will NOT upgrade to XP. Win2k and Win98SE do the job just fine. I have enough games to keep my entertained for years. If it ever gets to the point where I "have" to get a new game machine, Ill get a console.

  • Microsoft Patent (Score:4, Informative)

    by Target Drone ( 546651 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @12:51PM (#3808176)
    Here's a link to the patent [] mentioned in the article. For those that just want the jist of it here's the abstract.

    A digital rights management operating system protects rights-managed data, such as downloaded content, from access by untrusted programs while the data is loaded into memory or on a page file as a result of the execution of a trusted application that accesses the memory. To protect the rights-managed data resident in memory, the digital rights management operating system refuses to load an untrusted program into memory while the trusted application is executing or removes the data from memory before loading the untrusted program. If the untrusted program executes at the operating system level, such as a debugger, the digital rights management operating system renounces a trusted identity created for it by the computer processor when the computer was booted. To protect the rights-managed data on the page file, the digital rights management operating system prohibits raw access to the page file, or erases the data from the page file before allowing such access. Alternatively, the digital rights management operating system can encrypt the rights-managed data prior to writing it to the page file. The digital rights management operating system also limits the functions the user can perform on the rights-managed data and the trusted application, and can provide a trusted clock used in place of the standard computer clock.

  • It's actually pretty amazing to see such a MS toady as David Coursey (his column on "My Dinner with Bill" is useful either for laughter or antiperistalsis, depending on how you feel at the time) coming out with a column like this. Does anyone questioning Palladium have the kind of public forum that Levy has with Newsweek, though?
  • According to this article [] (sorry, german only) the EU knows exactly what Microsoft is up to with Palladium and they do want to work against it!

    Here [] is a translation using Google.
  • by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) <nathan@nathanpralle . c om> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @01:04PM (#3808275) Homepage Journal
    From the: Quotes-to-cringe-by dept.

    MICROSOFT PROMISES--and I believe that they're serious--that users will control their own personal information.

    Since when? Since when do people trust M$, the company that has time-and-again said that software is secure when it's not, that they provide customer support when they don't, that they're not trying to be a monopoly when they are, that they're not strong-arming 3rd party manufacturers when Craig Barrett is clearly wincing? If the EULA doesn't scare you yet, you aren't paying attention.

    But how this plays in the real world, where users often have very little power, remains to be seen.

    Ah, maybe in your little world of sheeple, but folks like me give ourselves power through OSes that don't patronize.

    Microsoft has one key factor in its favor: the growing realization among its customers that we must do something, and that tomorrow's digital devices--and I'm talking much more than PCs here--need the trustworthiness that Microsoft claims Palladium will offer.

    I think he's missing the boat on this one. Users don't give a rats banana about trust, or they wouldn't be using passwords like "mypassword" when checking Hotmail. They simply don't care about that. What they care about is the *big*bad*unknown* screwing up their ability to email, type letters to their friends, and have cybersex on AIM. If their OS provides that, they're fine. Trust is marketing B$ for "we're gonna cuddle you like a foster parent and shield you from the big bad world."

    But is the world ready to trust Microsoft on something it has such a hard time explaining? and implementing, and supporting, and documenting, and....

    Holy smoke-n-mirrors, Batman.
  • Step 1: create some virtual machine (in VBasic,
    for example)
    Step 2: port Linux to that virtual machine...
    But will it be worth it?
  • Don't worry, kids. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ceswiedler ( 165311 )
    It's inevitable that computers will become appliances. Anything which is marketed to, designed for, and used by the masses will eventually become simple and easy to use, and probably a commodity unless one company holds a monopoly on its production. The original Apple was the first step; this is merely another.

    But that doesn't mean computers won't exist to hack on for amateurs. Did the CD eliminate HAM radio, or the amateur musician? Does an electronics geek bemoan the fact that he can't put together his own DVD player, or does he spend his time doing more interesting things? When computers become appliances, they will become boring.

    It also doesn't mean that professional computing will go this way. To use the same analogy: do you think a radio broadcasting station uses an off-the shelf CD player? Do you think they go to Best Buy, see the low-end consumer hardware sold there, and say "Damn, I need something better, more customizable, but I guess I just can't buy it anywhere." Professionals will use professional products, and that means many things: high quality, no frills, and expensive. Microsoft will NOT be able to convince any computer professional to use this "Palladium" crap for a server. They won't even try. They will probably have a server OS which can serve Palladium-enabled content; but that won't be the only option, unless it's so good that it's all professionals want.

    The readers of Slashdot are all amateur computing enthusiasts, and many of them are computer professionals as well. We may end up using a commodity computer appliance, just like the rest of the world; but our Linux boxes will always be around to hack on.
    • Microsoft will NOT be able to convince any computer professional to use this "Palladium" crap for a server. They won't even try.

      Just like they were never able to convince any companies to use that crap IIS server, right?
      Until we get better trained and more experienced Sys/Network Admins in the work force, MS servers will remain a player in the field.
  • Ask Steve Jobs... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @01:16PM (#3808357) Journal
    Just another reason to use an Apple. Love it, hate it, or otherwise, at least Apple isn't trampling your rights.


    Jobs also stressed that the iPod and iTunes did not include any built-in digital rights management (DRM) features. "Piracy is not a technology issue; it's a behavior issue," he said, noting that every security scheme based on technology and secrets has so far been defeated.
  • The DRM aspect reminds me of something I read about an imaginary day in the not-too-distant future, where you can no longer install Linux on your own box because you don't have the necessary rights.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't a great deal of Linux servers run on old hardware? If this is true, then the impact of Palladium wouldn't be a total disaster for Linux. It would not be favourable, by any means, but not a total disaster.

    Smaller companies that run Linux servers on old hardware would not be forced to make the changeover, at least not for several years. Unless you're a large company that needs the latest technology, you could get away with not upgrading to a Palladium machine.
  • by extrasolar ( 28341 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @02:09PM (#3808865) Homepage Journal
    Anyone want to guess how long until the word "terrorism" gets in somewhere?

    Another terrorist attack or two, and Americans will be begging for this stuff. Hopefull that won't happen.

    I was at first reluctant into saying this technology is all bad. Its easy to get into an anti-Microsoft jihad.

    But this technology is all bad.

    I can't believe that MSN article, I really can't. Its a silly spin on this technology that isn't going to last. Here's some stuff from the MSN article on what this stuff is going to do:

    "Tells you who you're dealing with--and what they're doing. Palladium is all about deciding what's trustworthy. It not only lets your computer know that you're you , but also can limit what arrives (and runs on) your computer, verifying where it comes from and who created it."

    We already have this, its called Public Key Encryption or alternatively Symmetric Encryption. Free Software users already have GNU Privacy Guard at our disposal.

    Of course, the downside of this technology is that it isn't too useful over the internet without creating a rather large web of trust -- a very difficult task. I'd like to know how Palladium would rectify this?

    "Protects information. The system uses high-level encryption to 'seal' data so that snoops and thieves are thwarted. It also can protect the integrity of documents so that they can't be altered without your knowledge."

    First, we already have high-level encryption. And most anti-virus programs 'innoculate' your files anyway. This only sounds like Microsoft is targeting the anti-virus next -- by integrating them into the operating system.

    "Stops viruses and worms. Palladium won't run unauthorized programs, so viruses can't trash protected parts of your system."

    I haven't used Windows since Windows 95, but I know Unix-like systems have had multi-user security since practically forever. Its heavily suggested to new users to set up their own accounts on their system to use. "protected parts" os a Unix-like system is whatever root owns, which is quite a lot.

    "Cans spam. Eventually, commercial pitches for recycled printer cartridges and barnyard porn can be stopped before they hit your inbox--while unsolicited mail that you might want to see can arrive if it has credentials that meet your standards."

    So basically digital signatures for real this time...

    "Safeguards privacy. With Palladium, it's possible not only to seal data on your own computer, but also to send it out to 'agents' who can distribute just the discreet pieces you want released to the proper people. Microsofties have nicknamed these services 'My Man.' If you apply for a loan, you'd say to the lender, 'Get my details from My Man,' which, upon your authorization, would then provide your bank information, etc. Best part: Da Man can't read the information himself, and neither can a hacker who breaks into his system."

    This may sound interesting, depending on how its implemented. But what can this Palladium technology offer that a sane encryption policy can't? And whats going to prevent users from screwing up the security?

    (side note: "My Man" sounds really funny)

    "Controls your information after you send it. Palladium is being offered to the studios and record labels as a way to distribute music and film with 'digital rights management' (DRM). This could allow users to exercise 'fair use' (like making personal copies of a CD) and publishers could at least start releasing works that cut a compromise between free and locked-down. But a more interesting possibility is that Palladium could help introduce DRM to business and just plain people. 'It's a funny thing,' says Bill Gates. 'We came at this thinking about music, but then we realized that e-mail and documents were far more interesting domains.' For instance, Palladium might allow you to send out e-mail so that no one (or only certain people) can copy it or forward it to others. Or you could create Word documents that could be read only in the next week. In all cases, it would be the user, not Microsoft, who sets these policies."

    And we're back to digital rights management. Does anyone know how to implement what they say with the Word document with the technology we have now? It almost sounds like an Actually Useful Feature. "This email will self-destruct," kind of thing.

    But really, this thing is about enforcing what some people consider an unconstitutionally unlimited copyright system. Not to mention what kind of havoc would be caused if trademarks were decided to be under the umbrella of digital rights.

    One thing the Coursey article confirmed is that Microsoft does have a patent on this technology -- it seems logical they would license this under the CIFS (no GPL or copyleft) pretty much excluding free software from implementing this.

    Because this stuff was leaked so early, there is still time (they are saying like four or five years) for someone to build up a response to this. Or it will simply flop because the market won't like it. Or what I think is likely is that DVDs will only be allowed to play on Palladium-approved machines. Then we'll have a mix of Palladium and non-Palladium machines, one with a superset of the features of the other.

    Which one will Mr. and Mrs. Ignorant want to buy for their son?
  • I still don't get it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @04:03PM (#3809862) Homepage
    Maybe I haven't had enough caffeine today, but what's to prevent someone from using software emulation for the hardware functions in Palladium? Wouldn't this allow the security and authenticity checks (and DRM) to be circumvented?

    The problem is that a PC is a general purpose computing platform. It's not a DVD player, or a CD player or even an email station. It's anything the software makes it. And it has lots of free CPU cycles these days for things like emulation. If the software never invokes the CPU functions or uses a software protocol stack instead of the hardware stacks, you can do anything you want.

    You can hack the firmware (like what's been done to DVD players), you can even patch the CPU with hacked microcode. If you can't, then you need to upgrade your hardware when Palladium 1.1 comes out. And 1.2, and...

    Why not simply prove that the design is faulty before it gets out of the gate?
  • by Noel ( 1451 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @06:18PM (#3810950)

    I must admit, this is a masterful stroke. It appears to give users additional control over their computer's security, while limiting the options in such a way that it actually concentrates that control into others' hands.

    [NOTE: Since real information about Palladium is pretty fuzzy right now, I'm theorizing a bit about its capabilities for now. Only time will tell...]

    It can remove my power to choose what's authorized to run on my computer. It can prevent usage of "untrusted" or "unauthorized" code. Lovely turn of phrase, that. Notice how it uses the passive to avoid any implication of *who* is trusting or authorizing the code? "Palladium is all about deciding what's trustworthy. It not only lets your computer know that you're you , but also can limit what arrives (and runs on) your computer, verifying where it comes from and who created it." The implication is that the user is in control, but who decides?

    I have not yet seen anything saying how programs are authorized. It would be logical to set up a coalition to do this, and use membership agreements to control the behavior and competitiveness of its members, and exclude undesirables. We can see prior art in the way the DVD-CCA controls access to the CSS keys and uses that control to enforce region controls and lack of digital output.

    It can remove my power to access information, since Palladium "can limit what arrives" on my computer. In other words, the authorization control can extend beyond code to data. If a site does not have a valid Palladium authorization (however those are issued), then Palladium may be able to prevent access to it (and tell me that it has saved me from an "unauthorized site"). Again, the key to this control rests in the authorization process.

    It can remove my power to customize my computer. No, I'm not talking about case mods, I'm talking about OS and program configuration. In order to maintain a "trustworthy" system, it will have to limit access to the configuration system. Assuming they keep something like the Windows Registry, I can see two options here. They may refuse to authorize regedit, et al., and remove OS authorization from any registry touched by those programs. Or they may remove the my ability to change anything "critical" (by some definition or other) in the registry.

    Ultimately, it can force a choice between "all-Palladium" and "no-Palladium". If it can refuse to run unauthorized programs or access unauthorized sites while any authorized programs are running or authorized sites are being accessed, then I cannot work in both realms at the same time. I must either choose "Palladium" ("safe") or "non-Palladium" ("dangerous"). It could also deal with these realms asymmetrically: if I try to use Palladium resources, it could automatically close all non-Palladium resources (and tell me that it has saved me from danger), but if I try to use non-Palladium resources, it might refuse to load them until I had manually closed all of my Palladium resources, and perhaps rebooted.

    Faced with this choice, how many users will be willing to give up some useful non-Palladium resources rather than giving up all Palladium resources? Immanentizing the false dichotomy, anyone?

    I sure hope I'm wrong about this, and that I'm just being too paranoid. Unfortunately, recent history seems to show that we need a really healthy dose of paranoia when dealing with things like this. Again, only time will tell for sure.

Lavish spending can be disastrous. Don't buy any lavishes for a while.