The second day of WinHEC was a bit slower paced than the first. The lack of a large keynote and the fact that the Expo Hall was only open at lunchtime gave us the feeling one gets when realizing class is getting out early. Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh. We've been attending sessions all day and have gleaned quite a bit more interesting information.

Yesterday was so jam packed that we skipped covering the Windows Hardware Showcase, as well as some of the other presentations that we attended. We'll be covering these areas today, along with a nostalgic trip down Microsoft's memory lane. Also on the agenda for Day 2 is a closer look at the hybrid hard drive demo, some auxiliary display concepts and thoughts, updated driver signatures for Longhorn, the future of the PC as a multimedia device, and some spicy coverage on digital rights management.

A hot button topic around WinHEC seems to be digital rights management. Of course, everyone has strong feelings about the current debates over digital media content protection, and the attendees of WinHEC are no exception. As an industry event, Microsoft has had several presentations on the advancements of content protection in Longhorn with no one really wanting to address the underlying end user vs. content provider issues.

The new MFF: Millenium Falcon Factor

Without further ado, we bring you our Day 2 coverage of WinHEC 2005.

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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Going along with what Derek said but in a different vein, let's say the technology industries spend billions of dollars on a system that appears to be safe in order to please the content providers. When the system still ends up being cracked/hacked/bypassed (which I feel is inevitable), why bother in the first place? DeCSS has been cracked for years. Why is MS talking about layers of protection over the coming years? Because they already assume/know that the earlier efforts will be bypassed!

    Have the sales of DVDs suddenly plummeted because people can create their own illegal copies? Why doesn't everyone just download the content off the Internet and burn it to a 25 cent DVD? Maybe it's just that it's too difficult and time consuming? The large retail outlets like Wal-Mart and Target however are selling more DVDs than ever - at slightly lower prices than before. It's a case of supply and demand, and I just don't think there are that many people looking to steal content. They want a fair price, and $20 for a $1 item is probably too high.

    I also don't think a lot of people like paying the RIAA and MPAA a large amount of money when the artist gets practically nothing. Or purchasing a $15 CD for the one track on the CD that's worth listening to. That's a different story, though.
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    To quote #7: "...and everyone and their grandma are perfectly happy to never purchase "content" again."

    "We've seen what happens when the barriers to theft get drastically lowered, and what happens is the providers take it in the ass. "

    This is absolutely untrue. Remember those decreased sales the RIAA reported? They were decreased units shipped to retail outlets (who are carrying less now that online retail is taking off). Point of sale numbers for the record industry has been record setting recently -- even during their reported downturn. It is also a very flawed system to report a free download as the loss of a sale. I can't even begin to count the ways this is illogical.

    The argument is easily made (and always glossed over) that high availability of free content increases sales of the very same. There are hundreds of reasons this is true, but I'll keep this short and just point to the numbers: the RIAA has been doing better than ever since Napster came along with multiple landmark years for high record sales.

    I have no doubt that we would see increased sales if iTunes and Napster dropped DRM. And not because people want to pirate the songs and resell them.

    Which brings me to a point. The only people content providers should go after are the pirates who *sell* content for which they do not own the copyright. The mistake the RIAA and MPAA make is to think the average person is as greedy as they are.

    But regardless of these facts, even if freely available content hurt the content providers, they have no right to limit the rights of everyone in order to eliminate the illegal activity of a vast minority of for profiet pirates (who are the only ones the content provider should have a real claim against). We don't remove knives from the kitchen because they can be used to kill. It is absurd to think that we need to eliminate all vehicles for possible illegal activity when legal functional and important uses of the same are abundant.

    Legally, making personal copies of copyrighted material is appropriate. I would really like to have backup copies of my content in order to perserve the content that I purchased. I would rather store my movies on my computer after having bought them on phsycial media so that I can keep the disk elsewhere in case of a crash. Or it would be nice to burn electronically purhcased media to something physical for the same purpose. But content providers make this impossible because they simply do not understand the market.

    And it's not even most artists that take up the cause of DRM and copy protection ... it's the beurocracy that makes money by simply facilitating the distribution of the content.

    I don't have a problem with content providers making money. I'd like to see them make more. That's why I want them to drop the copy protection and DRM nonsense and start just selling content to a market that is so thirsty for it they have taken matters into their own hands.
  • TheGee - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Can Iwatch TV dad? Hang on while I go through the menu system to set it up for you whilst I play these tunes in the bathroom record that HDTV program to hard disk. Save that film on the DVD brecorder and.........f*ck whats that blue screen for?
  • Turin39789 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    #7 a law that is unenforceable is not a legitimate law
  • Brian23 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    If Longhorn has media protection in it, I won't use it. Period. And that's not because I use illegal downloads. I just don't want someone to tell me I can't rip my CD and play it back on my iRiver.
  • Poser - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    My personal experience is that most consumers don't really give a damn about the interests of the content providers and are, when the opportunity exists, unapologetic theives. Remove limits on content access (via the 'net), limits on quality (via digital copying), and limits from technical ability (via easy to use programs), and everyone and their grandma are perfectly happy to never purchase "content" again.

    I'm continually surprised to see content providers so maligned for trying to protect their material from copying. We've seen what happens when the barriers to theft get drastically lowered, and what happens is the providers take it in the ass.

    The existence of iTunes isn't proof that people "want" to pay for content, it's evidence that people really like easy to use software with slick functionality. And maybe even proof that lawsuits really do scare people into taking the legal route. If an illegal but free version of iTunes existed with the same ease-of-use, speed, iPod integration, availability to the clueless masses, and if on top of that there were no threats of legal recourse -- how popular would the legal, pay-per-song version be?
  • ElFenix - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    that alphastation was ridiculously faster and less expensive than the 486 server, and yet alpha died. RIP alpha
  • ProviaFan - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the article!

    This content protection BS is making me seriously consider other software (and possibly hardware) platforms. While Linux would be ok for most of what I do, it lacks a bit on the digital imaging side (no easy, fast, and reliable way to run the latest version of Photoshop). Does anyone know what Apple's stance on hardware content "protection" is?
  • DerekBaker - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    106MB hard disk?
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link

    Man, those old systems really take me back.

    I used to call that Acer Aspire case "what happened when an Acer engineer had too many beers while watching Apollo 13 one weekend". I also remember drooling over the Compaq P90 desktop when that came out, and when that SystemPro 486 was top-end hardware.

    Thanks for the memories. Reminds me of the first system I actually built rather than bought (386DX/20MHz with a whopping huge 8MB of RAM and 106GB hard disk).

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