Schneier: Do not upgrade to Vista

Schneier: Do not upgrade to Vista

Summary: Security guru Bruce Schneier has given a big thumbs-down to Windows Vista, arguing that the copy protection features built into the new operating system "will make your computer less reliable and less secure."

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Security guru Bruce Schneier has given a big thumbs-down to Windows Vista, arguing that the DRM (digital rights management) features built into the new operating system "will make your computer less reliable and less secure."

The celebrated cryptographer, who is credited with designing or co-designing several widely used encryption algorithms, is calling on consumers to send a message to Microsoft by avoiding Vista entirely.

"[The] only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade to Vista. It will be hard. Microsoft's bundling deals with computer manufacturers mean that it will be increasingly hard not to get the new operating system with new computers. And Microsoft has some pretty deep pockets and can wait us all out if it wants to. Yes, some people will shift to Macintosh and some fewer number to Linux, but most of us are stuck on Windows. Still, if enough customers say no to Vista, the company might actually listen," Schneier wrote in an essay posted at his personal blog.

His argument is that Microsoft has succumbed to the entertainment industry and built copy-protection (DRM) schemes into the OS that will make computers less stable and force customers to spend to upgrade peripheral hardware and existing software.

Citing a paper by New Zealand computer scientist Peter Gutmann, Schneier said the revamping of the core OS to add copy protection technology for new media formats like HD-DVD and Blu-ray disks is a move by Microsoft to "own the entertainment industry" while neglecting customers.

[NOTE: Microsoft is disputing these claims. See this post on the official Windows Vista blog that reacts to the Gutmann paper in technical detail.]

Schneier writes:

This isn't how Microsoft spins it, of course. It maintains that it has no choice, that it's Hollywood that is demanding DRM in Windows in order to allow "premium content"--meaning, new movies that are still earning revenue--onto your computer. If Microsoft didn't play along, it'd be relegated to second-class status as Hollywood pulled its support for the platform.

It's all complete nonsense. Microsoft could have easily told the entertainment industry that it was not going to deliberately cripple its operating system, take it or leave it.

Schneier likened the Windows Vista DRM push to the way Apple used iTunes to dictate the pricing model for digital music. "The same thing will happen here; after Vista is firmly entrenched in the marketplace, Sony's Howard Stringer won't be able to dictate pricing or terms to Bill Gates. This is a war for 21st-century movie distribution and, when the dust settles, Hollywood won't know what hit them," Schneier added.

Unfortunately, we users are caught in the crossfire. We are not only stuck with DRM systems that interfere with our legitimate fair-use rights for the content we buy, we're stuck with DRM systems that interfere with all of our computer use--even the uses that have nothing to do with copyright. I don't see the market righting this wrong, because Microsoft's monopoly position gives it much more power than we consumers can hope to have.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows

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108 comments
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  • Keep saying this, but it won't help.

    I have already decided to completely avoid the Vista debacle (yes, it is a debacle and I won't respond to the shills that will take umbrage with that opinion). I have 10 licenses for Vista Business from my MSAP subscription, but these are safely stowed where they can harm no one.

    Further, I believe that businesses will conduct their own tests and come to the conclusion that Vista AND Office 2007 are productivity killers and will stay away as well. After, who needs to retrain their entire work force to use Office 2007?

    However, it's the home users that buy the cheapest deal at the "CompuHut" that will make a Vista user base ubiquitous. These are the same people that bought XP Home and wonder why they can't shut the computer down and have no control over its resources. They will buy into the Vista market line that it will be better and more secure for them. They won't realize that Vista is just as easy for a hacker to own and that MS owns it even more than it ever "owned" XP with Genuine Advantage and phone home software.

    But it doesn't hurt to keep on spreading the word. Maybe it will come back to MS and who knows, they might even listen.
    msolgeek
    • Haven't we heard this before?

      "Further, I believe that businesses will conduct their own tests and come to the conclusion that Vista AND Office 2007 are productivity killers and will stay away as well."

      With Windows XP? Grow up people. Vista will be adopted. It's a good operating system despite what the nay sayers say.
      ye
      • Grow up

        Why do we need the latest, "greatest" from MS? I have heard, seen and experienced nothing to lead me to believe that there is anything you can do with Vista/Office2007 that you can't do with XP/Office2003. In fact, I haven't found any features that I use in Office 2003 that I cna't do with Office97. In fact, the older versions let me do things that are more difficult than the new, such as "Paste As" options.

        Just give me three compelling reasons to use Office2007. These need to be compelling enough to offset the upgrade fees (= money), installation costs (= station down time = loss of productivity = money) and user training time (=loss of productivity = money).

        Just three.

        Go on now - I'm waiting.
        msolgeek
        • You make his point nicely

          People like you were saying the EXACT same thing when WinXP came out on 2001. Just replace "Vista" with "XP" and "XP" with "2000/98". He wasn't saying *you* wouldn't upgrade - just that your prediction that [i]other people[/i] would not upgrade has been made before and proven to be 100% off.

          So what exactly is different, now?
          toadlife
          • The toad couldn't do it!

            I guess he couldn't think of a single reason to compel an upgrade. Neither could I. Now the only difference is that I am not gonna upgrade or ever buy into this.

            If you need a reason, RTFA.
            msolgeek
          • Nor could I think of a reason with XP

            But people still upgraded, didn't they?
            toadlife
          • Quite a few...

            Our business is not going to upgrade any time soon.

            Neither my colleagues.

            Plus for the ordinary people there is DRM bolted in. Is this the very necessary feature?
            Solid Water
          • What happened to your great

            sense of humor you were bragging about missolfreek? Seems you've lost it. <br><br>
            <i>I have 10 licenses for Vista Business from my MSAP subscription, but these are safely stowed where they can harm no one.</i><br><br>
            Where they can harm no one eh? I think you've gone a bit looney. So you are staying with what you have forever eh? Nice choice and smart thinking. Go get 'em. <br><br>
            I can't believe these endless Vista bashings on zdnet. It's obvious they are anti MS but it's getting ridiculous. Not one article on what Vista can do. RIA anyone? Like never before...Google is worried and you can see that clearly. WPF is on the leading edge of web apps. <br><br>
            3 reasons for office 2007? <br><br>
            1. Brings all the power of office to everyone's fingertips.
            2. Savest tons of $$$ therefore a quick ROI. The number of mouseclicks for any given function has been reduced by up to 80% and that's consistent across the new interface. What used to take 12 clicks, now takes 3. How can you not like that?
            3. Business Intelligence. BI has become one of the biggest priorities right down to small business today. Office 2007 makes analytics easy for any level of employee or user. It empowers everyone to analyze data and use Office apps as BI front ends. Highly programmable and integrated, it's the perfect gen. office, accounting, BI, compliance, clerical, management app. It's got the power for everyone and the beauty is you can get Excel, PP and Outlook basic for what, a buck 40? also, do you realize the tie between sharepoint 2007 and Office 2007? If not, you may want to check that out. did you know you can run EXCEL SErvices on sharepoint? Do you understand what power that gives a company?

            <br><br>
            This article is just another in a long long line of Vista bashing articles on zdnet. Unfortunately for those like you...the general buying population has never even heard of zdnet.
            xuniL_z
          • Office has lots of stuff nobody uses ...

            And Office 2007 has it in spades. I know hundreds of people who use Office and Outlook every day, and about 3 people who know how to write a macro, use an external data link, or setup a mailing list.

            We have an "Office Guru" in our group. Know what she spends most of her time doing? Fixing corrupted formatting in Word and Powerpoint documents, corruptions that happen so frequently that many people avoid "fancy" things like indented paragraphs and title headings because they are more likely to hit one of the myriad bugs that remain in Word and Office to this day.

            No thanks, I don't need any more bloatware, I just want something that works on every-day tasks. My current copy of Office XP is sufficient.
            terry flores
          • I can see you have gained a

            sense of humor! What a great laugh your 3 "compelling" reasons are!

            Mike Cox could not have come up with this tag line:

            "Brings all the power of office to everyone's fingertips"

            What a laugh! Is that supposed to actually mean anything?

            And how about this beauty:

            "Savest tons of $$$ therefore a quick ROI. The number of mouseclicks for any given function has been reduced by up to 80%"

            That's hilarious but you forgot to mention that people save mouse clicks because they can't find the correct icon to click and just give up.

            But the best laugh stems from using business speak ala Dilbert comics:

            "Business Intelligence"

            I can't say much more about that as I just can't stop laughing!

            Thanx little backwards z_linux dude. You just made my day!

            ROTFLMAO!
            msolgeek
          • You are kidding?

            You've not heard of IT's version of the goldrush? What is mentioned in every single IT publication and has become very mainstream now? Business intelligence. Data warehousing, data mining, business analytics? You are either joking or you don't have a clue and my sense is the latter. I work in IT directly and even conventional slow moving enviroments like healthcare are embracing BI full throttle. Look through and Enterprise magazine and try not to find a dozen ads for BI related software. I dare you misslefreak. <br><br>
            enjoy<br><br>
            Oh, and by the way.....check this out you clueless little man with his feet stomping on the floor....<br><br>

            http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-3513-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=30168&messageID=560885&start=-1
            xuniL_z
          • Thnks backwards z_linux dude! Another great laugh!

            "Business Intelligence" is the new big term in "new speak" no doubt but it doesn't represent anything new. But hey it's a great way to get middle management moving and talking while people spend more money on tools that can't replace common sense.

            I've already put "business intelligence" into the oxymoron bin with military intelligence and government oversight.

            Regarding sharepoint services and sharepoint server for MS "Dynamics" wanna be biz software: Office 2007 does not come with these. Further we already have that in Office 2003 with SBS2003 with the proper add-ons. I been in several fortune 100 companies and they don't use sharepoint stuff at all. In fact their enterprise is way too big to run on glorified SQL server add ons. These companies use mainframe iron almost exclusively.

            So what's with posting a link to another of YOUR posts? that's supposed to make it more relevant and poignant? Maybe you can point out how "business intelligence" based on Office2007 flows in ISO 900x and CMMI organizations? Oh, that's right, you can code and customize a lot of mediocre stuff or buy real third party apps based on Oracle.

            Still laughing at "Business Intelligence! LOL
            msolgeek
          • Oh, I get it.

            You are another government shill. Big Iron. THAT is funny. Yep, we're still using big iron, that's right sniff sniff, aahyep...nothing but a mainframe for us. Waht a laugh!! and a joke. The largest company and employer in this city is quickly ditching all of the IBM equipment for client server apps to be more agile. Big Iron is ok if you are in an industry with no competition...like the government. And Business Intelligence is an Oxymoron? Try looking up how of IT spending was done on getting real time data to administration in the last 5 years. <br>SQL 2005 matches up fine against Oracle and scales very well at about 1/10th the cost. What a joke, Big Blue...is this why IBM is investing heavily in Linux? To run an emulator on Big Iron? <br>
            You are a joke missilefreak (and you know what the metaphor is about).
            <br><br>
            You forgot to mention, by the way, that Vista's WPF can do RIAs so well that they have Google running around putting out half backed offerings in fear of Vista. Steve Jobs has resorted to trash talking cause he's desperate and IBM is already running to the EU to complain about the .NET 3.0 stack on Vista. Sharepoint 2007 is a very large step up from 2003 and provides the web infrastructure for Vista to do web apps, wikis, the list goes on and on, and do them better than Google. Well, everyone knows that fear will often manifest itself in anger...your little rants are a perfect example. <br>
            xuniL_z
          • Hold on tight...

            and take a ride with Microsoft and Vista. <br><br><br>
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPEypljdPNQ
            xuniL_z
          • Well...

            nothing is different for us. We will get it when we lease new computers because there won't be any other version of Windows available. If, next year, I could get XP on the new machines, I would. But since it won't be available, I will have to get Vista.

            I wonder how many of these [i]other people[/i] are in the same situation as me.
            Patrick Jones
        • Yes, Grow Up!

          "Why do we need the latest, "greatest" from MS?"

          You don't. If your using XP and it works for you stay with it. It would be stupid to upgrade unless there is something specific you need/want. I am not recommending that everyone just go out and upgrade.

          However Vista will become the dominate OS just like XP is. We're hearing the same things of Vista that we heard with XP. Given time all this Vista bashing will fade into the woodwork.
          ye
          • Maybe

            You are correct, these arguments were made about XP.

            Still look at the change. XP at least offered something tangible. It was 1000 times more stable than any Window 9X OS. It was much more robust OS too. It supported more Ram and larger hard-drives. A 300 GB harddrive running FAT or FAT32, not so good. Couldn't use RAM abour 64 MB efficiently. Sure it could use it but the more had the less efficient it got. Oh then there is security, Windows 9X had no security. Windows XP had security, maybe not the best and maybe Vista is not better but at least there is security.

            So there were so many good and valid reason to get XP. The only reason I saw in not getting XP was if you had Windows 2000 which is much more stable OS but it lacks a few features.

            Now this is the big difference between going from Win 9X to XP vs XP to Vista. What is there in Vista that compels a person to want it? More than likely it will go the same as XP. Bad retail sales and non-existant upgrade sales. Then over then next 3 years people get it with thier new PCs. Unless Vista sucks enough that consumers demand XP. I doubt that will happen but it is possible. From what I've seen Vista looks pretty good and might be worth skipping XP to jump straight to Vista.
            voska
          • I agree

            "So there were so many good and valid reason to get XP. The only reason I saw in
            not getting XP was if you had Windows 2000 which is much more stable OS but it
            lacks a few features."

            I skipped over Windows XP because 2000 worked great (though I disagree that XP
            was any less stable than 2000). I now have Vista because the PC I was running
            2000 on was old: PIII-600 with 384MB of RAM. Not worth upgrading so I waited
            for Vista and bought a new PC with it pre-installed. I suspect that most people will
            get Vista throgh a new PC and not an upgrade. And, like XP, it will become the
            dominate OS as a result.

            If XP is working fine for you then stick with it. There's no compelling reason to get
            Vista (maybe for the enhanced security but that's yet to be determined) if you're
            happy with XP. If I wasn't in need of a new PC I would be running 2000 still. IMO
            operating systems reached a crescendo with Windows 2000 (and XP in the
            consumer space). Same with OS X 10.0 (though refined at 10.2). I don't see many
            great improvements in new releases. Just an evolution instead of a revolution.
            Which, IMO, is a good thing. Once they stablize hopefully software will run on all
            current and future versions. Sort of like what Sun is delivering with Solaris.
            ye
          • Another nice feature in Win/XP

            It finally (Linux does it for years) issues HLT to CPU (Win/2000 does not) so the temperature does not go that high.
            Yes, I know, there are utilities that can do the same on Win/2000 - that is what my son was using on his gaming machine. :-)
            Solid Water
        • One will do.

          It is obvious from your post that you don't know how to use what you have already, so who would expect you to know how to use something even better. I teach Office 2003 and I ses improvements in 2007 too numerous to mention.
          gsuser