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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
December 29, 2006 -- Feeding Frenzy
Status: [CLOSED]

Very good article, and well-reasoned.

One additional point: whereas CD and DVD were a huge usability and quality improvement over their predecessors, all this new hardware really isn't; therefore the percentage of consumers who stay with 'good enough' will be substantially larger.

Rick | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:03AM

" ... the percentage of consumers who stay with 'good enough' will be substantially larger."

That's been my technology posture since 1999 - the 'bleeding edge' was too expensive, too bloody, and I wearied of seeing thousands of dollars of investment in personal technology become obsolete more rapidly than ever.

Now of course I may miss out on the sexy new hot gadget or trend or content, but so and what? Even my kids are in on it - a trip to the library outweighs demands for video games, and Windows 2000 runs just fine thank you on the old IBM 390x.

A short comic by Jen Sorensen covers the cycle pretty succinctly:


GyuFromOhio | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:12AM

I think the number of people who will resist this change is substantial. Having seen an HD TV I was generally unimpressed as someone who doesn't watch much TV. If I remember correctly the law does not outdate old TVs, you will just need to use a government subsidized converter. Although I may be technical, I have been making a concentrated effort to avoid this sort of unnecessary consumerism.

colin | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:13AM

Compared with those "seminal experiences in the 1980s and 1990s," the current efforts to sell us the same old wine in new bottles will amount to nothing more than a Bill Gates wet dream, in which the consumer gets it up the you-know-what. You need a 100x improvement in value to get consumers to replace the previous generation of media (think 78, LP, cassette tape, CD, iPod) with a new generation. Vista 1.0 simply doesn't deliver that 100x multiplier and consumers won't be fooled. The question is whether Ballmer and Company will have the time to get it right, which usually takes them three versions. As Bob correctly points out, consumer-driven media will play a huge role, much larger than Microsoft or the reigning media moguls currently expect.

Phil Atio | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:24AM

Nobody went out and bought XP. They got it "for free" with their next PC. Current PC technology hasn't risen in costs enough, alongside the Vista version, to make people stop buying new PCs. They will buy another PC within the next 1-3 years, and they will get Vista. The retail version is primarily bought by folks trying to get it to work on older hardware.

Steve Milton | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:52AM

I am wondering about the ability and/or desire to purchase new stuff. I have not bought a new computer in years (3 to be exact) and don't plan to in the next couple. I have found that open source allows me to use my current stuff at a satisfactory level.

Is it possible to satiate the market at a time when the available discretionary income bottoms out. Can the industry succeed selling higher priced stuff to an ever shrinking market?

dennis wilson | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:53AM

Do you really think the the cable companies will willingly give up those subscriber dollars from the many customers that will just NOT!!! get suckered into hdtv? No, they will provide converter boxes.
There is so very little worth watching today, the very worst programming I can remember since the start of tv.

Bert Haskins | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:00AM

I am tired of Bill picking my pocket so he and his investors can buy G5's and $60 million houses. I will go to open source before Vista. I digitized my cassettes BTW and refuse to buy any music that has copy restrictions.

Peter Feldman | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:04AM

So what ? OS/X + google apps = OS freedom. The only thing missing is a Melinda Gates nip slip.

come on gang, get on it !

Ted Potter | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:17AM

We'll buy Vista, but it won't break Microsoft. The alternative is just too hard for the computer novice to wrap their heads around. It's much easier to go and get a new computer with Microsoft products in them already. It's going to take Google to kill Microsoft. Who Google partners with is another question, but THAT will be the Microsoft slayer.

Trevor | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:36AM

None of this will have any impact untill the masses cant get their tv's to work the day all broadcast turn to digital.

Scott | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:38AM

Commenter Bob Haskins has it correct: cable companies rule the media world. Despite the claims (going on since the mid-90s) that "the Internet will change the way people get their media", the VAST majority of Americans get the VAST majority of their media (TV) via cable. That's not going to change, no matter what Microsoft does. If Bill Gates REALLY wanted to be the King of All Media, he'd spend his money buying up cable systems around the country.

So Vista/DRM be damned. The cable companies will make converter boxes available.

Jeff H | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:43AM

Well, good old STANDARD definition TV is far better than analog(ue) and thanks to the efforts of a few techies the current output of big media is flowing onto the torrent sites completely free of DRM.

It's a given that some smarty will break the HD DRM, so THAT media will be available free too.

Say, take a look at the ~100 movies that became available in the torrent, just today.

The big media players really need to consider how they're treating their customers. Between cruel lawsuits and buggy DRM, we purchasers of the OLD media will find something else to spend our cash on.

And it won't be another copy of the White Album.

George | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:52AM

Commenter Scott has the key. The day politicians can no longer feed their propaganda to the masses via analogue TV, the whole program will change. They have to have a method of spreading their info in order to get re-elected. They wont destroy it.

Jolie | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:53AM

I think Bob misses something essential in Gutmann's analysis: the $1-2,000 Vista computer is not the logical system for viewing complex new digital content. Rather, it will be the $50 "canonical" Chinese-made player that you'll wire up to your HDTV and play content from. Microsoft/Intel/AMD/ATI/NVIDIA want to make your computer your player of choice but it is a silly goal for >90% of the consumer market.

The hacker/cracker types will crack the DRM, the bootleggers will bootleg, the consumers will gripe that their computers have been screwed up again by buggy bloatware and paranoid DRM, and those of us using linux will merrily compute along.

Don Campbell | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:04PM

Here's the bit I haven't seen:

It used to cost $500,000 for a studio mixing desk, because it had to, now it costs considerably less. An amount with in the reach of an ambitious amateur muso.

If this continues, if all the software and hardware at a reasonable price is crippled, will it cost $500,000 for a studio desk because they want it to?

I currently working on a multi channel audio player app using a 24 channel interface, which will need low latency predictable performance. This could become a thing of the past with NDAs and serious license fees. Simply out of the question for an MA, probably a small company.

Not only does this attempt to lock in the consumer, it also attempts lock out the little guy, either in content production or software/hardware production.

In the end, though it worries me, I think much of this will come to nought.

Jamie Campbell | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:23PM

I'm still running DOS apps, which still work fine and get my work done, and as to music, my 78s and wax cylinders are just fine too. And I'm quite content with old B/W movies as well. As to politics, I believe the internet will bring considerable upheavals, maybe not quite by 2008 but definitely by 2012. Hopefully we'll all vote by mail-in paper ballot, as Oregon does now. The three networks, aka purveyors of garbage, might be gone by '12 as well, with so many viewers lost to alternative media, and I know several teenagers who have quit watching tv 100% - having too much fun with their computers.

Joe Schmidt | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:29PM

To the first order, I agree with Phil; except that he seems to be assuming, as does Bob, that this new DRM-ed video/audio technology will be actually better, or useful, at all.

The problem is that CDs and DVDs that exist today are already past the point that the average person sees improvement. An iPod is actually a decrease in audio fidelity over a CD, it just lets you carry more music in a smaller space -- that's the win there -- but most people don't notice the decrease in fidelity. Some songs even sound better when simiplified by the audio compression lossage.

But I can already play movies on my computer, I can already use it as a DVR, hook it up to a big, high-res projection screen, etc. The only thing this new DRM technology does is restrict what I can do because the media companies are paranoid about piracy -- which their DRM stuff doesn't really stop anyway.

So the media companies are buying in on a pipe dream of pirate-proof media and Microsoft is trying to take the lead in this area. Unfortunately, eventually, they will realize it was all a hype-induced illusion, and that anyone with the right sort of video cable tapped into the right point on the hardware can still re-record and re-encode the analog video and audio signals that have to get generated eventually, and they can then pirate those re-recorded signals to their heart's content. Sooner or later they are going to realize that all of these technology companies who have been selling them pirate-proof "Digital Rights Management" are like the tailors selling the Emperor a suit that only really smart people can see, and that in fact the Emperor Has No Clothes.

The question is, will they figure this out before or after Vista gets rolled out...

Marc Mengel | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:31PM

Liks so many others, I was more than happy to jump from the LP to the CD bandwagon, and then 15 years later I stopped buying VHS and marveled at my new DVD's.

However, in the last five years I have stopped listening to CD and now listen predominately to lower quality MP3's and the vast majority of my TV and movie viewing is not high quality DVD or HD broadcasting, but lower quality and compressed XviD files on my standard definition TV.
While I don't think BlueRay and HD-DVD will follow in the footsteps of DVD-audio and Super Audio CD's, I see no reason to move to the higher quality Video formats and platforms. The convenience factor of these lower quality formats far out weighs any benefit from even the current quality CD and DVD's
I have to confess to be being an early adopter in the 90's, waiting with baited breath for that new high spec Windows 95 PC from Dell, my first modified DVD player that cared not for region coding or my First Apple PC. But with Vista and Leopard finally appearing I simply can't see myself replacing anything for some time. That old Athlon desktop running XP and my venerable PowerBook will see some years service yet I suspect.

Conor Mulhern | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:34PM

"If Bill Gates REALLY wanted to be the King of All Media, he'd spend his money buying up cable systems around the country."

Hey Jeff H, ask his buddy Paul Allen how that has worked out for HIM.

SJGMoney | Dec 29, 2006 | 12:54PM

Buy the same old stuff again and again?! That may be true for you old farts, but us young 'uns just rip our CDs to our computers and then buy brand new content (or even old timer stuff that we don't already own) from the iTunes store. I get bored with songs after a few months, so I don't really give a rat's ass if the DRM breaks next year.

Eric Grant | Dec 29, 2006 | 1:21PM

Marc Mengel is right when saying most people find content quality satisfying as it is, without HDTV and fancy 24-bit zillion-channel audio.

In fact, a huge improvement of sound quality for an average iPod owner can be obtained by simply investing $100 in a quality pair of headphones, as the amount of detail that will suddenly appear on the familiar tracks is astonishing. And there's no DRM in them headphones, either :)

Max Timchenko | Dec 29, 2006 | 1:33PM

The first wholesale failure of a company doing a lot of DRM licensing will wake up consumers and regulators alike. How many angry ipodders would there be if Apple failed and no one could listen to their music anymore? Or the Rhapsody people?

It doesn't look likely, and some opportunistic cabal would probably buy up that portion of the business -- and probably re-license what we already own back to us for a few bucks -- but it sure is food for thought.

Trenton Lipscomb | Dec 29, 2006 | 1:43PM

Too late - someone already did (crack HD DRM):

Neil Prestemon | Dec 29, 2006 | 1:52PM

This is all ignoring the fact that the current digital content king is Apple's iTunes, with 75% of the market on both Windows and Mac (actually closer to 100% on Mac). Vista's not going to unseat that--the new Apple is not the Apple of old, who squandered their lead in technology. The new Apple really stays on the leading edge, maintaining their dominance. For example, how many "iPod killers" have emerged? How many have failed? All of them! How about "iTunes Store killers"? Same thing. Today's Apple knows it needs to keep a step ahead, not just on Macs but on Windows, as well. In this way they're taking a page from Microsoft's book, always looking over their shoulder.

Microsoft can make lots of deals with media companies, but it won't matter. All of those same media companies will know that they will have to make a deal with the real digital media market leader, Apple, as well. So you'll still be able to get all of your digital media content with less draconian DRM, anyway. And if you're already content with the lossy/compressed lower quality of downloaded digital media, you probably won't notice the intentional signal degradation in Vista if you're not using HDMI connections and "blessed" hardware.

If you're someone to whom quality really does matter, you're not going to be watching or listening to downloaded digital media, and you're not going to be using your computer at all. As a previous poster mentioned, you're going to be using standalone components that bypass Vista's DRM altogether. Why spend $1200-1400 on a Vista media PC when even less money gets you much better standalone gear?

Lunatic E'sex | Dec 29, 2006 | 1:53PM

Linux and Mac users may be just 4%, but is that a 4% leak in your car's ventilation system or a 4% leak in your space shuttle?

How will all this play out in China and South America, hacked Vista or linux?

Will Apple hop on the bandwagon or provide an alternative to all this dreck? They seem to want to play both sides - first "Rip, Burn, Play!" then ACC. Hmmmm.

Dave Burns | Dec 29, 2006 | 2:01PM

We're really living in what I hope are special times. Never has the vast majority of people who live and work in our world been so powerless. The Digital Restrictions Management schemes of the present were created by one of the most corrupted governments our country has ever known; and the safe assumption is that this corruption will continue forever and probably worsen. DRM is a very compelling symbol of our national malaise in the face of all the overwhelming corporate powers encroaching on our little lives.

But what if we, the powerless sheep of America, were to be roused from our pessimistic torpor somehow? The pendulum has been known to swing both ways before throughout history. The minute Joe Sixpack can't tape CSI: Hard Drive Rescue Unit we might see some real change in this country. Plus other economic forces could always start a shift in values that might loosen the draconian hold corporate interests have on our government, and in that rosy utopia of idealistic wonders Congress might see fit to roll back some of the patent absurdities of the Digital Millennium act. Microsoft will still make money either way.

The most bizarre thing about Digital Restrictions is that, even without it, everyone still makes plenty of money. It seems like a very lazy law; a law of convenience for corporate interests that is a matter of inconvenience to us.

Tony Patti | Dec 29, 2006 | 3:00PM

Those who declare war on their customers are destine to loose.


avram miller | Dec 29, 2006 | 3:15PM

You really only need a complete end to end HDMI path if the source requires it (e.g., via the Image Constraint Token or ICT). Currently the HD movies available don't enable the ICT. I'm not convinced they'll ever be able to turn it on in the real world.

As you say, at the moment the people complaining about buying new gear don't really care because they like to buy new gear. On the other hand, what happens when the market expands and you get away from the early adopters? If Joe-HD-TV-Owner goes out and buys a new HD disk that refuses to play at HD resolution on his existing HD TV he'll be more than a little unhappy.

For example consider the irony of Microsoft's first HD product -- the HD-DVD drive for the Xbox 360. It doesn't support HDMI so it's virtually worthless playing a disk with ICT. The picture from the fancy HD-DVD add-on will be about the same as that from the standard DVD player in the Xbox. How will those Microsoft customers feel then?

It seems to me that Microsoft is betting against ICT with Xbox but enabling it with Vista.

Nick | Dec 29, 2006 | 3:23PM

Avram wrote:

"Those who declare war on their customers are destine to loose. [sic]"

Sigh. I wish it were true. The first time I played a DVD that forced me to watch the entire FBI warning in real time I was sure that DVD's would fail since I could fast forward through the same thing on my VHS player. Sadly, consumers accepted paying money in order to be forced to watch useless warnings and commercials. I suspect consumers will accept content restrictions with the same sheep like mentality, not realizing that they could have voted (vetoed) with their wallets.

David Abrams | Dec 29, 2006 | 3:30PM

I hate the misuse of the terms "piracy" (and "theft") in this context. Real piracy is a horrible act that begins with theft and often ends in murder. The Bill Gates version is nothing more than people making copies of long strings of ones and zeroes that Bill would rather they not copy. It's arguable whether or not these acts even qualify as breech of contract, let alone "theft." No one is deprived of the use of his property. This is just another case of people with power bending the language to try to get what they want, damn the consequences.

If you don't want people to copy something, don't turn it into long strings of ones and zeroes and distribute it to essentially anonymous machines designed to make perfect copies of long strings of ones and zeroes. Crippling the machines isn't the answer. Charging reasonable prices for the ones and zeroes might be the right answer, but fear and greed will make sure that doesn't happen any time soon.

converter | Dec 29, 2006 | 3:39PM

I don't own a working television. The one I still have, sitting on a shelf gathering dust, broke in 2003, when I switched it on for the first time in a couple of months to watch some DVD or other.

If I'm anyplace a television happens to be on I can actually feel my braincells dying, so I leave as quickly as possible, lest I end up like the drooling morons who _choose_ to watch the garbage.

A lot of people now feel this way. Many more than you think, in fact. I will not be acquiring another television. I use my PC for email and maybe two hours per week of web browsing. (And to post a message on this blog.)

The sheeple will no doubt throw away more cash on technojunk, but who cares? Let 'em do it. They deserve nothing better. Evolution will eventually take care of them for the rest of us.

Me Again III | Dec 29, 2006 | 4:18PM

I don't own a working television. The one I still have, sitting on a shelf gathering dust, broke in 2003, when I switched it on for the first time in a couple of months to watch some DVD or other.

If I'm anyplace a television happens to be on I can actually feel my braincells dying, so I leave as quickly as possible, lest I end up like the drooling morons who _choose_ to watch the garbage.

A lot of people now feel this way. Many more than you think, in fact. I will not be acquiring another television. I use my PC for email and maybe two hours per week of web browsing. (And to post a message on this blog.)

The sheeple will no doubt throw away more cash on technojunk, but who cares? Let 'em do it. They deserve nothing better. Evolution will eventually take care of them for the rest of us.

Me Again III | Dec 29, 2006 | 4:19PM

To poster Marc Mengel, who asserts that I "seem to be assuming, as does Bob, that this new DRM-ed video/audio technology will be actually better, or useful", I reply that, as a consumer, I see no value in any of the current DRM schemes. I agree with Marc that digital compression systems tend to reduce the fidelity of the music I listen to, so in my view, the latest digital media represent a step backwards from CDs. (And I know intelligent people with good hearing who insist that CDs were a step backwards from LPs.) Still, many people find compelling advantages in portability that override sound quality and I'd be the last person on Earth to foist my values on them.

Phil Atio | Dec 29, 2006 | 4:56PM

You *still* think everyone is going to ignore the "Price of Vista" and swallow it anyway ?

The hugely increased price, The "we will switch your computer off if we think you even look like a pirate", "no, your licence doesnt allow you to do that", "you need a new microsoft-approved $$ to do that" and the fact that their new $2000 Vista Box will run slower than their friends $1000 XP Box.

Sure, a few suckers who walk into best-buy and say "give me the latest of everything" will end up with pre-bundled vista boxes or laptops covered in "Designed for Vista !" stickers to try and convince them they did the right thing..

but unless Vista shows ot have some *user-compelling-features* and not just eye-candy, I'm guessing the first time they see Joe Bloggs watch the movie they wanted to watch on his "old" PC and theirs tells them they cant do that, there are going to be record numbers of "downgrades" and Vista is going to need a hurried DRM-ectomy by service pack to prevent death from "I dont want it's"

Brett | Dec 29, 2006 | 6:15PM

I find most TV utterly boring and often insulting (think 'reality TV'). Most people I know watch little TV and do not use thier PC for any media activites other than to sync with their IPODs.
I have no conviction that the future of the PC is as a full media centre and in my opinion, Microsoft is well and truly screwed with their current direction.
I am with Peter Gutman and will resist 'upgrading' to the joke that is Vista as long as possible (might go to a MAC).
All of the current technologies for distribution film or TV are doomed to failure as they have only one intention - ripping off the consumer.

Anyone download 3G videos or films to their IPODs?

tony | Dec 29, 2006 | 6:25PM

Why won't the tech companies wake up. We need the folowing:

1. A single DVD standard, I don't give a shit whether BluRay is better than HDDVD, I just want to buy the one that will be the standard.

2. A single HiDef standard, don't confuse me with all this 480p, 720p, 1080p or i. I want one HiDef standard and I want all TVs to follow that standard so that I am assured when I buy a TV it WILL play Hi Def DVDs in full quality!

3. Quit the Guilty until proven innocent crap. If I buy a DVD or CD and want to give it to my daughter to play on her computer/DVD Player it will play. Until you show that I have illegally copied it for resale to make a profit I am assumed innocent. If I buy a CD or a DVD I can pass it around my own family and I can copy it to them ad-infinitum. I bought it I own it, as long as I don't give it away free to another family it is OK.

Pay attention to these things or we the consumers will vote with our feet and you will all die of starvation!

Siv | Dec 29, 2006 | 7:01PM

Some general thoughts...

  • What's really sad is that consumers are paying for DRM, even though it offers no benefit. It's a totally artificial cost: only the people who need/want it should pay for it.
  • If the next generation of media is terribly crippled with DRM (as Microsoft and the media companies would have it), then we have compelling evidence that those corporations truly do have a stranglehold on the market---basically a cartel. An ideal free market shouldn't tolerate such inefficiency, right?
  • With regards to music: big media should be losing its grip: pro and semi-pro recording equipment is increasingly more affordable. Most artists make the majority of their money from tours. Why do we even need big media for music? Shouldn't the most natural situation be one where virtually all new music is made available for free on the Internet, subsidized by the touring done by the musicians? If not free, then at least an Internet-only distribution?
  • That model at least works for the "jamband" scene, where music trading is actually encouraged. The idea is this: the more people that hear the music, the greater the potential for new fans. New fans usually means more concert ticket sales.
  • Regarding giving up quality for convenience: in the near term, this shouldn't be necessary. My music collection includes over 300 CDs. Every CD ripped to my hard drive in FLAC (lossless) format occupies 125 GB of storage. The next couple or so generations of iPOD (or similar) device out to be able to store that.
  • I believe that the Microsoft monopoly is perpetuated because of the "entrenched" factor. The alternatives are now "good enough" for a "good enough" number of people. Moore's Law has turned PCs into disposable commodities. And a Microsoft operating system has become a "standard" component of these disposable commodities (i.e., in the same way as if Microsoft was the one and only keyboard manufacturer). In other words, everyone will eventually upgrade to Vista, whether they want to or not.
  • The DMCA needs to go away. I still chuckle to myself every time I watch a DVD that I own on Linux (using only free software) and know that I'm breaking the law.

Better stop now... I could ramble all night!

Matt Garman | Dec 29, 2006 | 7:04PM

Sounds like another barrier to the lower middle class and poor being connected and getting technology education and information. Where are they supposed to get the money to pay for all this?

splashy | Dec 29, 2006 | 8:06PM

I understand that Microsoft wants everyone to use their PC as a replacement for music and video systems.But, this seems to me to be home-consumer oriented when the major portion of the market is with businesses.

While I have run my small consulting business on linux for almost a decade, there are large companies that buy their computer equipment by the carload (boxcar load, that it). What need do they have for playing movies or songs? Are they shafted, too, by slow and bulked up equipment that serves no purpose for them?

It will be interesting to see what happens in the near term. For the record, I've not watched TV for more than a decade and only occasionally rent a movie to watch. I prefer to read. Old fashioned idea, I know, but I'm too old to change a lifetime of reading.

Please accept my apologies for having this display as one long paragraph. My spacing in the text entry widget is ignored. Sigh.

Rich Shepard | Dec 29, 2006 | 8:11PM

re: General Thoughts posted by Matt Garman.

Matt, not sure you are doing your size calculations correctly.

300 disks

wayer | Dec 29, 2006 | 9:01PM

I think that both are wrong.

Gutman is wrong because a suicide note is an announcement that the writer intends to end their life, and Microsoft was not announcing an intend to kill themselves,

Cringely is wrong because he believes that Microsoft will succeed in maintaining market dominance.

What I see happening is:

1) Microsoft becoming a 'niche' operating system (used by gamers only) due to the DRM issues.

2) OS/X, BSD, Linux, and Solaris will become the market leaders. Since all were designed to meet Unix specifications porting programs from one to the other will be simple.

3) The drivers of Microsoft's DRM strategy (RIAA and MPAA members, etc.) will suffer huge loses in revenue - due to the rapid expansion of "user created content" as entertainment.

4) The advertising driven entertainment market that we presently have will undergo an upheaval which will kill many firms - and make the successful ones wildly rich.

That's what I think will happen - and of course these predictions are worth exactly what you payed for them!

Wayne | Dec 29, 2006 | 9:08PM

If Microsoft is successful, every competitor and/or hardware firm will have to accept identical terms similar to MS's, or be locked out of the HD revolution.

The only way for others (Unix, Apple, ???) to win is for this to stink so bad before the others panic and take the same terms, that the DRM provisions are beaten back or refused. Fat chance that they'll be refused.

I take this as a perfect example of MS exploiting its monopoly position. It dictates new technology standards that everybody else has to follow. Good business for them as long as our lame DoJ is indifferent to a single vendor locking out alternative approaches. Clever of them to get the RIAA to lock them into being the only successful PC/media integrator, again, assuming that owners of non-compatible hardware don't scream bloody murder that their $4000 box has been made incompatible for no good reason; or hackers don't spoil the whole party for forcing whole classes of hardware into non-compliance as laid out by Guttman.

Walt French | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:21PM

Instead of one company trying to be everything to everybody, Microsoft would serve its users and shareholders best by voluntarily splitting itself into several companies - one focused on home entertainment, another on family, education and small business, one for large corporate businesses, one for R&D, one for Internet Web experiences (advertising, applications, infotainment, etc.,) It can't do everything well, but a collection of mini-Microsofts focused on their niche markets, might do surprisingly well. We might eventually get an Office that runs on a multitude of OS platforms

Kevin Kunreuther | Dec 29, 2006 | 10:35PM

Who needs DRM anyway? I've still got my old Columbia windup phonograph and a good collection of 78 RPM shellac records. And it still works.

Only problem is finding needles for it.

Pete Rose | Dec 29, 2006 | 11:43PM

As a content creator, I think both Microsoft and big content have got another thing coming, and they will both go down bruised and battered. On the Microsoft front, Vista's DRM nightmare will lead to dire consequences for everything from IT departments, creative professionals, scientists, all the way down to casual users. And it could not come at any worst time either - Microsoft's customer base is fed up with worms, trojans, spyware, and viruses. And now can you imagine a battery of servers going down because of a licensing error, or video being degraded during diagnostic imaging because of DRM? Microsoft has simply gotten too big for its own good - too big, too bureaucratic - It took Microsoft 5 years to write 50 million lines of code for Vista, while Apple will have taken just over 16 months to write 88 million lines of code for OS X Leopard, with a quarter of the resources.

For big content I can see the same thing too. They are trying to force you into buying something you already own again, because they can see their current business models are not working - and they are using DRM to lock you into it. And they're grasping at straws to maintain their revenue streams - lawsuits against file sharers, rootkitted CD's and the like. The main threat - internet distribution - any band can record and master their works, and distribute them over the internet. And now the big studios are about to get a taste of their own medicine - low budget films will be filmed to the same quality standards as big budget flicks - the $17,000 RED ONE digital cinema camera being the final nail in the coffin. Apple started it all with Final cut pro, and Shake, and now watch them steal away Microsoft's customers sector by sector, and at the same time watch investors grin with envy as all the money they save by breaking ties with Microsoft comes right back into their pockets by choosing another OS vendor such as Apple. That's exactly what happened with our post and visual effects facility in Vancouver - we headed off the liabilities of Vista at the pass and avoided all its bloatware and DRM insanity. And at the same time, we've laid off 4 of our 5 IT support staff since migrating to Apple, dramatically cutting our costs, and focusing on what we do best - creating content.

Rob666 | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:00AM

You're all dreaming.

We have heard all the same phoney arguments from anti-MS critics before, with Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows 98, Windows 3.1, ad infinitum.

Vista *will* automatically become the new standard. Practically everybody *will* race out to adopt it, buying whatever new hardware as necessary to do so.

I'm not saying this is a good thing. It's just how it is. Nobody ever learns anything. They do as they are told, every time. Vista will be -- IS -- the new MS cashcow, and a lucrative one at that.

You guys *will* buy whatever new TVs you say you won't buy, and you will upgrade them to whatever new "standard" is released. You'll accept the new DRM methods and practices so as to keep watching the dreck you so love. Same ol' same ol'.

These companies like MS, Sony, et al are just going to go on getting richer and more powerful, and you are the ones who will make it happen. Deny it as much as you like, you're just wasting your breath. Welcome to the future, which is the same as the past.

Now shut the fsck up.

Old Fogie | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:13AM

what are sposed to do? I want to use vista and i want to keep watching my fav shows and films,,,so that means i will have to get the new puters and tv set. i want to watch tv and i love my games and i will have to get whatever is available in future to watch and play. there is not much u or i can do about it so why worry?

D. Howard | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:22AM

Rob666 wrote:
while Apple will have taken just over 16 months to write 88 million lines of code for OS X Leopard, with a quarter of the resources.
-Well I thought most of that 88 mil lines came from existing xBSD code?

Anthony McNamara | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:27AM

Hello "all you guys" (except Old Fogie). Please DO NOT fsck. Happy New Year - yes you too Old Fogie.

Anthony McNamara | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:31AM

"-Well I thought most of that 88 mil lines came from existing xBSD code?"

Both you and Rob666 are splitting hairs, since it really doesn't matter whose code is better or more efficient or elegant in the long run. Old fogie is probably correct as his argument has history on its side: it doesn't matter how crappy or restrictive Microsoft's product is, the world still gobbles it down as if it's caviar and fine wine.
At the end of the day Microsoft will still have their stranglehold on the PC desktop market, for better or worse, and Aplle and Linux shall limp along as perennial also-rans (pardon any pun you may find in that statement).
I don't like the way Microsoft do business, nor am I impressed with their product, but they are the 800lb gorilla in the computer world right now, and I can't see that changing for a long time, and certainly not as a result of Vista, or DRM (which as Old fogie also pointed out doesn't seem to concern most people at all).
We've seen that Microsoft's snafus have virtually no impact upon their dominance, so I believe it's going to take an extremely adroit and powerful competitor to usurp them --- maybe Google? But that won't happen soon, if ever.
Anyway, companies rise and fall, but the people hang around to found new companies, but using the same methods and tactics. Even if Bill's Microsoft eventually falters, his next company will most likely pick up the reigns, and life will continue as always.
Vista and DRM is here to stay, and will be the latest king of the hill, like it or not.

Draken's Feather | Dec 30, 2006 | 12:44AM

DRM is Dead. Apple's iPod is the dominant portable media player. Apple only supports their DRM on the iPod, not Microsoft's. Apple won't license their DRM to allow anyone else to sell protected media that can play on the iPod. Anyone trying to sell digital media has to pick between selling MS DRM protected media to the few people that don't buy iPods, or selling unprotected media that plays on all devices. The only reasonable business decision is to sell unprotected media to the entire market.

There's not automatically a new market whenever media formats change. There used to be, because the content was locked into the media, so you had to buy DVD's to replace VHS tapes, and you had to buy CD's to replace LP's. But now that content is in digital formats, users can convert formats without buying the content again. That is, you can RIP your CD's to play them in your MP3 player, and you can play your DVD's on an HD TV.

Sure, the is the HD and Blue Ray/DVD-HD migration coming, but those formats aren't compellingly better than the current format, so people will be slow to upgrade, and they are backward compatible, so people don't have to re-purchase everything, and they have much less of a reason to do so than when going from LP's to CD's.

IMO, the media companies should give up on the delusions of easy upgrade sales, and instead focus on making great content.

Laird Popkin | Dec 30, 2006 | 1:22AM

Laird Popkin said -- 'IMO, the media companies should give up on the delusions of easy upgrade sales, and instead focus on making great content.'

Old Fogie can't reply because he's laughing too much.

Why should or would they ditch a model that continues to make them rich? It may be outdated. Maybe it is even ultimately doomed as many say. But it's _still_ making them rich right now and damned if it won't make them a fortune for a long time yet!

You're still just dreaming.

Old Fogie | Dec 30, 2006 | 3:31AM

LAPTOPS! That's what's gonna make Vista king! What's selling nowadays? Laptops! When Vista comes out laptops will have compliant display, media player, software and whatever else is needed by Vista to play DRM'd stuff. Damn! Vista's gonna sell like hotcakes...because laptops are.

Al Galgano | Dec 30, 2006 | 10:18AM

Old Fogie is right. We will all buy the new stuff and MS will get rich on it.

1) Everybody makes the mistake of thinking MS has some kind of moral conscience that will make it stick to its plan. It does not. MS will try to be a big bully, but if that doesn't work will about-face in a heartbeat. This is a good way to get as much as possible; they take as much as possible and only put back single items that cause big fights and bad press. Usually, that means they get what they want.

2) You can't stop digital copying. As long as software hackers can crack the codes, that is what they will do. If they stumble, there is an army of a million electrical engineers ready to assist, tapping directly into the hardware. I've been working at the hardware level for 30 years, and this is a project for any college junior EE to tackle, and many long time professional engineers enjoy this kind of challenge.

Once a few dozen free copies of any album/movie are out there, they spread like a virus.

So what does the future look like? Like today, pretty much. Corporations try harder to suppress rampant pirating, and always fail to do that, but DO manage to make more money. This is because most people will pay the extra dollars without thinking twice. Not out of any deep sense of morality but an urge for convenience and a fear of entrapment.

So if computers, TVs, stereos and devices in general get more expensive, they get bought and paid for. There will be no revolution. The mistake of most observers is to think somebody must lose: It is a win-win situation!

The pirates and the companies both win. More successful pirating means more security that can be sold by companies, which really do suppress some pirating, and more importantly generate huge new profits, which is what they really want. Pirates win because they get free content, and all their friends get free content, and they are heroes in their circle.

But that circle is small, because most people past the age of 28 or so turn chicken. They have more to lose if they are prosecuted for copying, and more money to spend because they have real jobs, and so the allure of pirated content fades, and they pay $18 for a DVD that they know cost 25c to make, and don't look back. It is no longer that big of a dent in their wallet.

Tony Castaldo | Dec 30, 2006 | 11:05AM

Old Fogie and D. Howard:

You guys might run out and buy Vista. But you are probably the power user types, or at least you use a PC more than 80% of the population.

If you are talking about the whole market, that includes grandmothers who check their email a couple times a week. They're not going to run out and get Vista so they can have a fancier icon for their email client.

This is starting to remind me of the "new economy" talk in the late 90's. The old rules no longer apply. Well, I'm here to tell you, supply and demand have not disappeared. When computing broadened in the 90's, people were getting on the internet, and they were doing it with $300 computers, at a time when hardware prices were plummeting.

Why they are going to spend thousands of dollars with little benefit is not clear. Maybe you can fill in the rest of the argument. Then you can publish your ideas in a professional journal. And you'll be a shoo-in for a Nobel prize, because economists will be really excited to learn about your revolution in economic theory.

Of course, you've got some work ahead of you when it comes to filling in the rest of the argument.

lmf | Dec 30, 2006 | 3:45PM

I just bought my last 2 albums from www.GoMusic.Ru - have no idea if it's totally legal but hey there's a big selection for like less than $2 (converted from Rubles) each, convenient download etc... Maybe Russia is the future!

ps76 | Dec 30, 2006 | 6:29PM

LMF: The economics don't change, and nobody rushes out to buy Vista. It is the same as now; virtually every computer shipped will have Vista on it, upgrades will soon require Vista, and it will become the de facto standard. MS will stop selling anything but Vista; and companies and individuals will still buy computers and laptops when they need them.

And since my mother is a great-grandma to seven kids under age 12 with a total of twenty some odd people to keep track of, I disagree about the e-mail bit. She knows next to zero about how computers work, but she is expert at helping the kids play games both regular and online, she sends endless greeting cards, uses two different drawing packages, can download and print digital pictures from her camera, make online albums, navigate chat rooms, shop, keep a diary, use MSN for voice/video chats, and is in general a power-user on "her sites" on the net. She never even used a computer before the age of 55. If Vista or DRM breaks her Internet stride, she will rush out and buy it in a heartbeat. Then call me to install it.

Anyway, my point is that equipment only lasts 3 or 4 years. It won't take long for Vista to penetrate the market through simple attrition.

Tony Castaldo | Dec 30, 2006 | 9:12PM

Ultimately market forces will prevail.

If DRM is prohibitive and unpopular, the media prices will drop.

The media companies will invest heavily in all this security only to see their revenues stay the same.

People are only prepared to pay n per month in media fees, you can DRM all you like, it's not going to change.

Technophobe | Dec 31, 2006 | 5:07AM

As usual, a brilliant analysis of DRM by the Cringe.
And it will benefit Robert X. too! He can just recycle old Pulpit editorials and fit them into the new technology!

Paul Peldyak | Dec 31, 2006 | 11:49AM

"Anyway, my point is that equipment only lasts 3 or 4 years."

This wasn't always the case, but it seems more and more like everyone is really starting to believe it. Imagine if new homes only lasted for 3 or 4 years! (Oh wait, some really are built that way!)

For a long time, cars were made to be used for ten or twenty years. Now people want new cars like every five years. I recently visited a friend whose family has the same TV set they had fifteen years ago when we were children growing up. It still works. Newer television sets somehow stop working after 3 or 4 years. Old, simple "wired" telephones worked for a decade or more, but now everyone wants a new cellphone every year or two. A friend's family still has their 1998 Bondi Blue iMac for email and word processing. Why replace it if it does what you need and it was built well enough to last for ten years?

Computers, iPods, digital cameras, PDAs, kitchen appliances: everything is cheaper, more featureful, and breaks down faster. Plastic instead of glass or metal like my parent's old school kitchen applicances.

I agree with Robert's point that the industry is really just pandering to consumers who are looking for excuses to upgrade. Smart producers will leave upgrade paths open, they will pick technically inferior formats or design technically inferior products to leave room for something better in the future to upgrade to. Worse is better.

Jared | Dec 31, 2006 | 4:56PM

It's not true the the government doesn't care about consumers. Twenty years ago the studios tried to stop video but as soon as it became a consumer issue the courts got involved and Hollywood lost. The studios do work hard in the background and they have passed some laws but there are basic constitutional issues involved that can trump all that. Anything that prevents people who want to watch their own videos on their tv from their pc is unconstitutional. The more basic issue is politicians need to get reelected and once an issue becomes well known and unpopular it's dead. Like you said in the near term hacks will be devised and the system will break down. It's not really in the interest of hardware to go along with this so some of these companies will build easy hacks right into the device. This doesn't mean that no one buys dvds or music. As long as their not too expensive it's more convienient to buy real copies. Like how many people try to copy a book rather than buying it. The biggest threat is to specialized software which is more expensive.

frankp | Dec 31, 2006 | 7:07PM

Why can't we get a new laptop (and even a premium desktop) without Windows?

Where's the free market? I want my money back.

Carlos | Dec 31, 2006 | 11:44PM

I agree with your summation of 'user generated content', but I do not believe it will ever reach the 20% (of all content) mark. The BIG studios, BIG news-agencies, and BIG radio stations will still produce (overwhelmingly) the most 'content'. For QUITE a few years to come. And while the 'smart hacker community' will, indeed, be successful (over and over) with DRM, that is mostly because these folks won't STAND for it.

The REST of the 'consumers', if they knew what us 'techies' know, wouldn't STAND for it (DRM and losing their rights) EITHER.

The trouble is, they *will* SIT for it. And DRM will be successfully foisted off on the 'general public', and there is nothing we can do about it. [We don't own the media that SHOULD be informing them.] Thanks, again, Bob. for making us think (a little).

Jim B. | Jan 01, 2007 | 1:37AM

some wisdom, please, backward compatible.
been windows based; sold PCs, had to help customers migrate to new Mac OS 7, 8, 9 or w95, and had to redo everything.
We deserve an OS with a smooth transition thru versions, don't we? Which is the easiest one for the nxt 20 years, Windows, MacOS, or Linux (does that have the same easy functionality & apps)?

chasfishn | Jan 01, 2007 | 3:50AM

it is urgent to have a cell phone version of your blog available. Browsing, reading (and commenting) from my treo is a pain

carlos | Jan 01, 2007 | 11:03AM

I think MS is not here for multimedia content. I think they want to be world money exchange kings, first they need a "secure" hardware plattform.

And, as for Linux and Mac being only 4% of the market, well in my house we have 4 computers and 100% are linux, 25%have windows. It's not a zero sum game,now you can install both Windows and mac,(and Linux) in the same machine.

Where did this 4% came from? I will tell you. You just invented it, because you don't know the real numbers.

jose | Jan 01, 2007 | 1:20PM

You said "And it is not just TV and stereo manufacturers"

Yeah, that's the problem. Everybody wants in, which is pushing the cost way. We're told that people are buying high-def TVs and other new expensive crap, but apart from sports fanatics, I don't know who. I sure as heck am not buying, because like most other Americans, I know that wages are falling, jobs are ending, and prices are rising fast, and I can't afford to experience any of the new junk that's coming down the pipeline.

This all feels very much like what I heard 1929 was like, before the Crash. The decadence that I see everywhere is bizarre.

Zacharelli | Jan 01, 2007 | 1:39PM

Why doesn't Apple throw some of it's iTunes weight around; MS "Plays For Sure"/Zune has no chance. Jobs' "owning" music has been profitable for everyone. While the Apple DRM concessions seem to be mounting; it's still the best win-win option going.

Jamon | Jan 01, 2007 | 2:08PM

I just switched to Linux and it's made me very happy. In fact I expect it to run smoothly on my current laptop for years to come.

Before the holidays I spoke with relatives who purchased an expensive, new system to prepare for future advances in computing, especially PC-based video. Yet these folks barely ever use their computer and won't purchase broadband service. Why bother upgrading, then? I believe they're just following conventional consumer wisdom by staying current with the latest-and-greatest technologies.

They don't seem to realize they can hop off the upgrade train anytime they like.

It's a new year and a great time for resolutions. Why not make switching to Linux one of them?

Beanbrain | Jan 01, 2007 | 2:14PM

This is why I stopped buying from iTunes. I recently lost my hard drive and realized that they won't let me re-download the tracks that were lost since my last backup. Well, it was just too easy to go to bittorrent to get those tracks and more without copy protection. I sure as hell wasn't going to pay for them again.

Besides, as far as I'm concerned the labels are still making too much off those tracks as it stands. I'll pirate until their gone and I get a bit better service from the digi music providers.

Sean | Jan 01, 2007 | 3:10PM

Disagree, DRM has been pushed on us forever and it hasn't stopped every movie ever made from showing up on Torrent. I won't buy anything that doesn't delivers 100% quality all the time regardless. Somebody will find a way around it with bits and pieces from Radio Shack. I'm switching to Mac instead of Vista. XP was good for the Games, but I'll buy a PS3.

AnythingButWindows | Jan 01, 2007 | 3:32PM

I especially liked the tone of the last four paragraphs.

MS doesn't do this stuff particularly well... Exactly.

I personally will never, ever buy into anything DRM. Believe me. Subscriptions - now that's a different thing but nobody understands it, not users nor sellers. Not yet, not for any media. I will someday be swayed to purchase a content subscription somewhere, just like I do cable TV.

MS also has Vista on a marketing pedastal as safe and secure (from identity theft) and that is not believable at all.

Fella | Jan 01, 2007 | 3:50PM

Every time a new Microsoft OS and/or DRM-like stuff appears we hear the same old whining and posturing about how it's the end of Microsoft or that no one will adopt it, yet every time we see those claims proved 100% wrong. Why will it be different this time? Answer: it won't. John Q. Consumer shall just keep buying, buying, buying, as always.

Macs and Linux will maybe gain maybe a tiny number of disgruntled former Windows users but far more new users than those lost will begin using Windows. The same applies for new televisions and other appliances, because just about everybody would rather leap through the flaming hoops than miss out on the stuff they're used to.

Now if EVERYBODY said "no way!" then those claiming these new systems will fail may be right. But most people will do no more than gripe a bit, if that. The number of people willing to make some kind of stand will be so small that manufacturers can safely ignore them. They know that already from previous experience. And 99% of those claiming they won't use the new systems are kidding themselves, just like they did when WinXP was released. It wasn't long before they followed the herd and became XP users too.

Déjà vu and all that.

Some Guy | Jan 01, 2007 | 6:36PM

I think most commenters are taking a narrow USA-only view. Look at the expanding content markets in China, India, South east Asia and the Middle East- how are these likely to respond to Big (USA) Media attempts to maximise profits by tightening DRM? Probably the same way they have so far, ie by manufacturing region free dvd players, mass duplication of dvds and other content, with token actions to 'demonstrate' compliance with the DRM regime.

As other commenters have pointed out, there are veritable armies of software engineers in these countries ready and waiting to hack Redmond's latest effort or any other access-limiting DRM measures. In Asia and the Middle East you can buy any content or software you care to choose, for USD1 per cd, complete with serials, hacks or whatever.

This situation will only change when the governments of the countries concerned find it in their own interests to control DRM. China, with its Red Flag Linux and dvd standards, is clearly maintaining its independence. Microsoft has always been about absolute control. This can work, but only as long as you are in a position to enforce it. Microsoft, big as it is, and even with the weight of the USA behind it, can't control the world.

number6 | Jan 01, 2007 | 7:26PM

Regarding other countries what does it matter? The USA and the West in general (I'm not in America) will remain unaffected by them.

People and companies can do whatever they like in China and India, but Microsoft will still be top of the heap in the US and the western world because they have so much protection from competition.

I envy those countries which escape Redmond's net, but those of us in the west are going to be stuck with Windows and DRM for a long time yet. And Microsoft's deep pockets make it easy to buy their way in countries where bribery and graft is the traditional way of doing things.

Some Guy | Jan 01, 2007 | 7:45PM

Apple is more than fair with their DRM (fairplay). You can burn 10 copies on CD and share your music on 5 computers. Apple is more upfront on making backups of your music. So,if you don't, you will be like Sean and lose all your music if your drive crashes. No reason to hate Apple for making a decent way to balance out the demands for both consumers and record companies.

iPodGuy | Jan 01, 2007 | 8:53PM

Copy protection could also be called licence fee protection. Want to make a DVD player? You need CSS to play discs, for that you need a licence... So you get to pay for MPEG, and all the other stuff, you also get stuck with Region code and other crap your customers would be happy without. Want to upconvert you need HDCP/HDMI more money for the licence holders.

1. CSS is broken as a copy protection.
2. No one is going to copy a DVD using upconverted component given #1.

Both are useless for copy protection but still work fine as licence protection.

Tom | Jan 01, 2007 | 9:03PM

The first "re-sell" of content we already own was made possible by the shift from analog to digital. There was value in that.

The next shift will be standard-definition video to high-definition video. There is value in that.

It will probably be the last chance for the media companies to "re-sell" content in the traditional format (audio/video). There's not much left after 1440p and 7.1 surround sound.

GeekTieGuy | Jan 01, 2007 | 11:00PM

What's so hot about playing movies on a computer screen? I think it'll take years before the majority of people plug their PCs and TVs together, or seriously consider some kind of an adapter box. Let's face it: most of my friends in the US still rely on the mail to get their DVDs, given the sad state of the available Internet connections. I live outside of the US and this digital/downloadable video hype is not catching on yet up here in Canada (music is the craze, of course). Seems to me they're trying to create a market from scratch.
I worked for twenty years in the computer industry and I like new technology as much as the next guy, but enough is enough. I can play a DVD on my TV or laptop (not using Windows or any Microsoft product), and can't think of a good reason to download any movie or old TV episode from anybody's online store. The offer is just not good enough, and it does not bring anything really new.
The industry has a lot of work to do before downloadable video becomes appealing, so DMR is a non-issue for now. And when it does become an issue, you'll still be able to buy badly ripped copies of movies at the flea market.
The big media makers should concentrate on the next big thing - maybe it's holographic movies or time travel, who knows. Hmm, come to think of it, who'd want to travel in time in a machine running on Vista...

Chris in the Great White North | Jan 02, 2007 | 3:16AM

Every once in a while, I wonder about the royalty-like fee that gets collected every time an audio cassette, VHS tape, or Music CD-R gets sold. Wasn't that supposed to allow you to make copies legally?

Paul | Jan 02, 2007 | 3:44AM

Oh, come on... where are Bob's predictions for 2007???? They are the highlight of new year's first days...

oculos | Jan 02, 2007 | 3:12PM

Well my PC screen is my TV now that I have a 50" Samsung DLP HDTV. However, I refuse to use Microsoft software. I'm running Ubuntu with MythTV and Azureus. There is no shortage of downloadable content through bittorrent. My considerable DVD collection can be viewed in upscaled 1080p and it looks gorgeous.

The industry is so far behind and they can't hope to compete, because they aren't competing with a company. They are competing with the consumers themselves who are willing to share content for free to each other. They do this despite it being illegal because the content isn't worth what the industry wants us to pay for it (most of it is total crap - have you listened to any popular music lately?).

Even worse, the industry has to fight against freedom itself. Once I have purchased a movie, song, or a TV show through my cable tv service, it should be a right to the consumer to view and manage that content for their personal use as they see fit. Until the industry gets that (or fails) we'll all have to continue breaking the law by buying DVD's and playing it back on Linux, or downloading a TV show that we already paid our cable provider to have access to, or cracking our iTunes so we can play them in Linux.

The industry will eventually have to bend to the will of the people or there will be no industry left.

Chad | Jan 02, 2007 | 3:58PM
longtimereader | Jan 02, 2007 | 9:32PM

Perhaps some of your readers could suggest methods of disposal or alternative uses for the aforementioned freebie?

longtimereader | Jan 02, 2007 | 9:55PM

You know its funny everytime i see the new Vista platform all i can think about is how much fun its gonna be streaming digital copies of dvd, films etc through to my HD TV. Then it dawns on me im asleep and really it was a nightmare.

I have found that the community in general doesnt want to pay for music, tv and films in general. I pay a TV licence in the UK and im watching the same crap i was watching when i was kid, difference being these are re-runs or re-runs. I would love to stop this and just have re-running when i want it to.

I seriously dont think Microsoft have given enough thought to the problem of DRM, they are so keen to lock everything down, that stiffling creativity will mean one thing someone soon will crack the precious DRM and the world and the status quo will be back to normal

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9) Advertisement on internet can be divided into 4 categories as below :

i) What is PPC advertisement ?

** PPC - Pay Per Click.

** Earn money from your website or blog - get paid for every click

** Earn money with affiliate program that pays you for every click
You get paid for every visitor that clicks on an ad. You to make as much as possible from your advertising space, by letting advertisers bid on your ad space.

** Example PPC advertisement : adsense Google , revenuepilot , adbrite , bidvertiser , Text Link Ads and others.

ii) What is Pay Per Impression advertisement ?

** Make money with sponsors that pays for your traffic. Every time someone open or close your site there is open small window and you are paid $1 - $ 7.5 per 1000 impressions CPM. Get Paid Per Impression, Make money with sponsors that pays for your traffic.

Example : Paypopup , Adversal and Others

iii) What is Pay Per Lead advertisement ?

** Make money with somebody click through your site to advertisers site and then register.

Example : Icoocash , clickcash and Others.

vi) What is Pay Per Install ?

** Make money with somebody install through your site to advertisers site.

** Example : Somebody install MP3 software from your site , you will be paid

Example : Teddycash , Matcash , yoursitebar, and Others.

10) What is Advertiser ?

** Place your ads on sites of your choice, set your pay per click pricing and pay only for clicks you receive.

11) What is Publisher ?

** Place the text ads on your website and make money online by getting paid for every click.

12) What is an Incoming links ?

This is a very important thing, because to reach TOP 10 in Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other major search engines, you have to get as much quality incoming links as you can. What is an incoming link? It is when someone links to your site from his webpage. And when you have more links to your web site, your rank goes up. The better quality of the link is, the better ranking boost your site receives in search results.

How to get such links?
There are many ways to develop a high number of incominig links to your website.

1. reciprocial linking - asking other webmasters for links and linking back to their websites in exchange. It used to be an effective method, but right now search engines discount the value of such links to zero.
2. cross linking - asking other webmasters for link from to your website, and linking back to their website from your OTHER website. A similar method may be used when you have only one website, but your linking partner has 2 or more websites - ask for link to your site from one of his sites, and link back to his OTHER website in exchange.
3. context linking - writing articles with links to your website in the article text (target your keyphrases or keywords!), or sponsoring other articles, that have high Google PR
4. automatic link building - with a help of an automated link building system

13) How do I know my website link popularity ?

** Go to Google search engine or Yahoo search engine or Msn search engine or Others

** Example : Type

Search engine Positioning

you have submitted your blog at search engine and link exchange with others website company.

example : link exchange with

The most important component of getting ranked higher on the search engines, is increasing your link popularity. The more websites that are linking to your site, the higher your ranking will be. To increase your link popularity, you will need to submit your website to link exchange directories so that you can swap links with other websites (they will link to you if you agree to link to them). Also, you can write articles and submit them to article submission directories. At the bottom of each article you write, you are allowed to include a link to your website.

The first thing you need to understand is that your search engine ranking will not improve overnight.

Reach On Top Ranking Position

Almost everyone uses search engines to find sites, and if your site doesn’t turn up on the first page of results you’re losing valuable traffic. Achieving a Top 10 ranking is vital to your success on the Web.

lim kock chuan | Jan 03, 2007 | 11:04AM

I don't know whether cool flying cars are on the drawing board yet, but iTunes does a real nice impersonation of (StarTrek) replicator technology.
This discussion and the Courtney Love plea seem to follow the habitual track of concentrating on the middle men; content owners, big media, content protectors...
It just seems to me our collective weakness for New Stuff (that's obsoleting and depreciating during the design process) bypasses a more direct contract between the content creator and the consumer.
I discovered and fell in love with Joss Whedon's FIREFLY about eleven months ago, but that was three years after Big Media ended it's run.
Now I've purchased a season pass at iTunes for STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, so that shoddy marketing and enigmatic scheduling won't prevent me from enjoying the next episodes (which begin January 8 or 23).
A real Next Big Thing transmits content far from the artist to the audience more directly. (Let's call it iCringe).
Paradoxically, Big Media has become a Big Impediment.

Scott Ellington | Jan 03, 2007 | 3:47PM

I'll address this in a few steps...

First, DRM is broken to start with. It will never work and it will never succeed - despite all that is behind it. What the media conglomerates (and Microsoft) do not realize is that the average Joe does not buy new stuff all the time - only a small segment of the home market and businesses. For them to succeed, they have to push the average Joe to buy new stuff all the time and that just will not work - the average Joe cannot afford to. HDTV, HDMI/HCMI and the likes are all doomed from the start for the very same reasons.

Secondly, while I am a Linux fan - I do work with Windows; however, I avoid Microsoft like the plague wherever and whenever I can. I also avoid DRM like the plague. More importantly - even though I am a technologist and a computer programmer - I buy computers only about every 8 years, and even among family members (who are no where near into it as much as I am) I seem about the same rate of purchasing. (Don't get me wrong - I'm 26 and have over 30 computers, but I do not buy computers every time I turn around - I got all but 3 of them for free from friends and family as they got new computers when their 4 to 7 year old computer was being replaced.)

More importantly, I think the industry behind DRM, HDTV, HDMI/HCMI is in for a big shock. HDTV has been pushed back nearly a decade now since it was first said to go live. The initial figures (that I heard of at least; back in 1998 or 1999) called for a complete transition to be completed by 2001, which was pushed back to 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and (if memory recalls correctly) now 2009 or 2012. It's just not going to happen, even though the FCC wants that estimated $4.2 billion (estimate for 2001 at the time of those initial figures) of resale value in the old analog TV spectrum. Face it - the average Joe cannot afford to go out overnight and replace their TV, VCR, DVD Player, Stereo System, Speakers, and every other electronic entertainment device just to please Microsoft, FCC, RIAA, MPAA, and Hollywood; and when they do replace devices, if the device won't record their favorite show (be it Baseball, Nascar, Football, or Sponge Bob Squarepants) to their old equipment they'll return it as defective - not upgrade the other stuff too.

More likely than not, the Entertainment Industry will be in for a shock when they wake up and realize they have no more customers because of DRM, and that new "Black market" Entertainment Industry that is not using DRM is taking over. (Truly this is what GoogleVideo/YouTube currently have over iTunes, Zune, and all the other DRM laden site. It's the true value in that business.)

So will it be the straw that breaks the camel's back? Likely. And Vista (and its successors) will fall right along with it.

For example - Windows ME was a great operating system if you had great hardware. However, the majority of Windows PCs are full of junk hardware that does not work to spec; and WinME being the rush job it was, did not have the whole punched into it to allow the non-standard hardware and software to run. As a result the great OS it was was viewed a total piece of junk, and Microsoft had to quickly replace it - Windows XP - but they took a little longer to make sure that those wholes were there. DRM, HDMI/HCMI, HDTV, Vista, and a Co will follow the same fate in the end.

So yes, they should enjoy it while they can - the roller coaster that will bankrupt them in the end, especially as Microsoft is setup through this (and other reasons too) to lose their monopoly on the desktop - to Apple and to Linux. (And I don't say that simply because I like Linux and Mac; but because the tipping point is coming and Microsoft has done nothing to truly stop it except create more reasons to hasten its coming.)

Ben | Jan 03, 2007 | 4:34PM

Cringe, I think this is the furthest in left field you've ever been. The simple reason is that MS is being the RIAA and the MPAA's butt boy so that the MPAA and the RIAA will give them the content (audio and video) that they want. Plain and simple. Even Bill said a couple of weeks ago that people are better off buying CD's and ripping their own music.

Alan Brent | Jan 04, 2007 | 7:45AM

Encryption is supposed to keep a third party from reading your data. The people passing the data have the keys, and the third party does not get the key. Thus it is hard to decrypt the data. With music and video, they must provide both the data and a key. Therefore as long as the data is decoded on a computer, the keys must reside somewhere in memory. It follows that somebody will always break the encryption, and this has already occurred. The quality difference between up sampled standard DVD and high definition is not enough for me to purchase all new copies of my DVD's. The new drives will read the old ones, and eventually they will provide disks with all three formats. It is also clear that there will be multiple format drives. So when prices are reasonable, then the consumers will start to buy.

ron | Jan 04, 2007 | 1:16PM

Bob, consumers have caught on to the strategy of keeping their computers forever, and they seem content to stick with Windows 2000 or, when a free copy comes available, Windows XP. Now that Windows works pretty well and doesn't need to be wiped and reinstalled regularly, only gamers bother upgrading their systems. Will it matter at all to Microsoft and the content providers that a majority of consumers won't make a decision about Vista until two to four years after it comes out?

david | Jan 04, 2007 | 5:58PM

Did I read correctly that Apple's take on DRM landed them in an Anti-trust class action lawsuit? Too ironic.

Steve | Jan 04, 2007 | 10:27PM

That was an interesting column. One thing I've learned from years of observing Microsoft is they are a company that always has a future vision and plan and put all their efforts towards it. They are always building for the future, future processors, future technologies, etc. Their new operating systems usually run best on newly purchased PC's. If a new operating system does not force you to buy new hardware, the next version of MS/Office will force you to buy both a new PC and a new OS. Microsoft has been very good at building for the future, then forcing it onto the market.

After reading Mr. Cringely's column and some of his links I realized Microsoft's future is not in personal computing. It is in media entertainment. They are wiring themselves (literally and figuratively) into every part of media entertainment. Its one thing to have a platform, Vista. But they need more, a way to force Vista and new hardware into the market. That is the part that scares me. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft now has a stockpile of intellectual property they will sell or impose on the electronics industry. Our next DVD player or TV may be forced to be contain Microsoft technology. Worse yet, due to some of the provisions of the DMCA law Microsoft could prevent interoperability of products that do not contain Microsoft technology. Its Microsoft's way or it doesn't work.

I fear Vista is much more than Microsoft's next PC operating system. It is a mechanism by which Microsoft will entrench itself in the media entertainment business. A few weeks ago we guessed at Microsofts intention to work with (?) Novell and Linux. A fear was voiced the partnership would taint Linux. Who is Microsofts primary threat to their grand plan to control media entertainment? It could be the Linux and Open Source community. Could there be another motive in their partnership with Novell? I fear yes.

Microsoft is very good at seeing the "big picture." We know about a few obvious moves they have made - the Novell deal and Vista. Those could be the tip of the iceberg. Out of public view could be a huge number of deals and acquisitions all designed to support Microsoft grand plan.

Remember, the DMCA law makes it legal for Microsoft to create a new monopoly.

John | Jan 05, 2007 | 10:35AM

SJGMoney asks: "Hey Jeff H, ask his buddy Paul Allen how that* has worked out for HIM?"

* = refers to my statement: "If Bill Gates REALLY wanted to be the King of All Media, he'd spend his money buying up cable systems around the country."

Paul Allen did not try to buy up all the cable companies; instead, he formed Charter Communications. Just a SLIGHT difference: buying all vs. creating one. But I'm sure you know that already.

Jeff H | Jan 05, 2007 | 3:54PM

Charter Communications was an independent Cable TV firm long before they were owned by Paul Allen. Paul didn't create them, he bought them.

I hope Mr. Allen is reading this.

As a customer of Charter, I wished they were a better run and better managed business. Their network management and customer support is at best minimally adequate. They have trouble diagnosing problems and it seems they have no ability at preventing problems. A good leadership team with both good business and good technical skills would be a big help for Charter.

While I'm not happy with my ever increaing cable TV bills. My neighbors are not happy with their every increasing satellite bills and the problems come with that form of service. It is clear the content providers are shaking down the satellite and cable operators with constant fee increases. They, like many companies, want to look successful in the eyes of Wall Street and that means they have to be constantly growing and becoming more profittable. If one does not have products or services to do this, the only way to keep Wall Street happy is to increase prices. I believe much of my growing cable bill really goes to increaing costs (increases by the content providers). However there is much Charter could do to help themselves. I haven't seen that kind of leadership since Mr. Allen bought the company.

I keep hoping....

A Charter Customer | Jan 05, 2007 | 5:25PM

Microsoft is not leading a revolution. They has tried to do something that they can - software/operating system solution for DRM problem.
They were unable to make hardware-only solution - as this is not their area of expertise.

But as Peter has pointed out - cheap $50 DVD player with some remote control function over Bluetooth (or USB or anything else) can do the trick without costly OS and expensive hardware.

I'm not aware of any value-added features that integration of DRM on PC can offer to users. 90% of users will simply click "Play" button and do nothing else. No needs for full-brown PC for this.

TAG | Jan 08, 2007 | 10:46AM

Microsoft is not leading a revolution. They has tried to do something that they can - software/operating system solution for DRM problem.
They were unable to make hardware-only solution - as this is not their area of expertise.

But as Peter has pointed out - cheap $50 DVD player with some remote control function over Bluetooth (or USB or anything else) can do the trick without costly OS and expensive hardware.

I'm not aware of any value-added features that integration of DRM on PC can offer to users. 90% of users will simply click "Play" button and do nothing else. No needs for full-brown PC for this.

TAG | Jan 08, 2007 | 10:47AM

Microsoft is not leading a revolution. They has tried to do something that they can - software/operating system solution for DRM problem.
They were unable to make hardware-only solution - as this is not their area of expertise.

But as Peter has pointed out - cheap $50 DVD player with some remote control function over Bluetooth (or USB or anything else) can do the trick without costly OS and expensive hardware.

I'm not aware of any value-added features that integration of DRM on PC can offer to users. 90% of users will simply click "Play" button and do nothing else. No needs for full-brown PC for this.

TAG | Jan 08, 2007 | 10:48AM