Is the Nexus the next Registry?

Is the Nexus the next Registry?

Summary: The worst thing in Microsoft's version of iVMS, aka Windows 2000, was the morphing ofthe uaf facility into the registry. Longhorn apparently contains something both similarand worse called the Nexus.

TOPICS: Hardware
I've been exploring the relationship between Microsoft's Longhorn and other operating system environments. That's a much more difficult task than you might think and it's not made any easier by the tendency of the research to throw up things that are, well, dumbfounding.

At the beginning, Longhorn was a code name for an interesting set of ideas. Basically Microsoft was going to reinvent PICK in much the same way that Plan9 represented a reinvention of Unix. In effect, Longhorn was going to migrate Microsoft's client-server ideas about how and why computers are used from their focus on stand-alone machines to a conceptualization based on a network environment. Like IBM's Cell, Longhorn was fundamentally to be about communication, not hardware.

The result might have been very cool, but that isn't what we're getting. Some bits are hard, some conflict with past practices, and others don't meet current agendas. As a result, what we seem to be in for at the Windows level is more of the same old, same old -and all the baggage that goes with that.

The worst thing in Microsoft's version of iVMS, aka Windows 2000, was the morphing of the uaf facility into the registry. Longhorn apparently contains something both similar and worse called the Nexus.

The Nexus is basically a virtual machine within the machine that acts to authorize operations. At the hardware and operational level, it does this by comparing device information (e.g. the CPU's unique identifier) to stored authorizations. If you're licensed, it releases control to boot Windows, start the game, or show the movie -otherwise, well, too bad for you. On the application side, the identification information is stored in a byte string obtained from the licensing organization and accesssible to an application embedded routine that profers it to the Nexus for authentication at start-up.

There are two things very wrong with this. One is complexity. When the USAF tried something like it for order authentication in the early 1970s, they discovered that moving authentication into the hardware created enormous delays when that hardware failed. You could not, for example, get a telex fixed in less than a month because the authentication for the hardware failure notice required the hardware to be working and the workaround protocol took weeks.

The other is that this seems primarily intended to support having the PC become the central device in home entertainment, but is actually a long step backward in systems design. Fundamentally, it turns Windows itself into more of a multi-processing GUI and less of an operating system while embedding more and more of the real operating system elements into the hardware flash memory and BIOS.

You can see Microsoft's point: they get convergence, digital media rights management, and significantly reduced processor dependence in one step, but the cost to users in application compatibility and usage freedom is going to make past transitions appear trivial by comparison.

Topic: Hardware

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  • Worrisome, right?

    And that's why I started running SuSE Linux on my home computers more than a year ago.
    • Extremely worrysome- good thing we saw this coming!

      Of course, MS changed the name to protect the guilty..
  • And at this point all us MS bashers say, "I told you so"

    We knew where this was going.. sorry MS, won't fly..

  • Ready, Set, Dead!

    One side you have individuals - living, growing, going their separate ways. And on the other you have corporations - static, greedy, opposed to change. But they have the money and money buys the 3rd group opposed to fredom, growth, and change - government.
    When IBM told the Boca Raton Development group to just do it, "It's not like many people will want a personal computer." They set the stage for the most amazing period of economics the world has ever seen. By choosing 'open' over proprietary the PC founded thousands of companys and created fortunes. BUT as the market has matured the reactionary forces of "I got mine, you can starve!' came charging back. They all got rich from new pies, and then forgot it was about baking not division. They want to protect their share, not create new shares.
    If you don't remember "TRON" the movie I recommend you get a copy and watch. NEXUS is 'MCP', the Master Control Program.
    At the point you can only buy approved hardware and software, and from approved sources the 'American Revolution' is over and the forces of repression, greed, and royalty won.


    Security is a poor blanket, when the fires of freedom are put out.
  • Is this going to cause problems for people providing desktop support?

    It looks like an impending nightmare.