DRM troubles drive ex-Microsoft employee to Linux

A former Microsoft security expert has claimed he may switch from Windows Media Center to LinuxMCE after battling with DRM issues
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Veteran Microsoft security expert Jesper Johansson has said he may dump Microsoft's Windows Media Center in favour of Ubuntu-affiliated LinuxMCE after struggling with the software giant's digital-rights management software.

Johansson — a former senior program manager for security policy at Microsoft who moved to Amazon.com in September last year — wrote in his blog on Monday that he may drop Windows Media Center for LinuxMCE after experiencing difficulties resolving problems caused by Microsoft's digital-rights management (DRM) software.

After Johansson's five-year-old child complained that On Demand, a US cable network's on-demand video system, was not working through Window's Media Center, he attempted to resolve the problem.

"Upon inspecting the problem I found that the video would turn on, the screen would flicker for a second each of black and the video a few times, and then the Blue Screen of DRM came up. It also wouldn't play any premium channels," Johansson wrote.

Johansson said the recommended workaround involved several convoluted steps, including installing Windows Media Player 10, which crashed, and then being advised to troubleshoot the problem with Windows SharePoint Services. A subsequent Microsoft DRM update then caused Internet Explorer to crash.

Johansson said that DRM software is not only ineffective, but a waste of money which damages businesses that attempt to use it to control the way consumers use copyrighted material.

"How many billions has the industry spent on DRM schemes that the bad guys break in weeks? How many perfectly legitimate users has the industry annoyed and driven away? How many lost DVD sales has it caused? How many lost sales of Microsoft's Media Center software and Windows Vista has it caused because the DRM sub-system randomly decides that you must be a criminal?" Johansson wrote.

It has done very little to stop bootleggers from hawking counterfeit software, he wrote, after witnessing a bustling trade in it on a recent trip to Asia. Johansson is now contemplating using LinuxMCE to avoid further difficulties.

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