Diamond, What Little Is Known?

Diamond, What Little Is Known? | Quote:For those who do not know, Diamond is the next version of Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition. Diamond will be based on Windows Vista like the past versions of MCE have been based on XP. Because of the complexity and how advance the UI is, it is said that Diamond will have its own special Aero Tier. A tier requiring much higher system specifications than even Aero Glass. Not too much is known feature wise about Diamond, but I can tell you of a couple features. DRM will be much improved with Diamond, I am not sure how exactly, but the way DRM files are handled and verified will be much easier and quicker. As someone who buys their music from the MSN Music Store (Yup, they use DRM) I will find improvements in this area useful. The second feature I can tell you about is that TV Viewing, especially HDTV will be improved with better quality viewing.

No one outside Microsoft knows what level of graphical power and memory Diamond will need. But I am hazarding a guess that the GPU power will need a recent DX9 card and around 2GB of RAM. Why that much RAM? Well for those who currently aim for the premium MCE 2005 experience these days will know that for a lag free session with MCE, you require around 1GB of RAM. So with the new graphical and other requirements of Diamond, I can make a guess that 2GB would be around the “recommended” amount of memory for a good experience.”


Ummm…. MCE 2005 doesn’t need 1GB of RAM to be lag free, that’s a bad statement.  512MB will do just fine.

Top Arguments To Microsoft and DRM (Really Just To DRM)

Most of the big arguments that I have been getting on my DRM posts are posted below.  The majority of them don’t specifically relate to Microsoft and DRM, rather the concept of DRM and content protection.


  1. DRM doesn’t work and doesn’t prevent piracy

I agree.  If you look at the DRM and content protection systems I listed in my first post, you will find that only CableCARD (UDCR) and PSP-PDM have not been cracked (at least that I know about).  DRM Systems don’t work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason for Microsoft to support or include a system in their OS.  The content is protected, when it will be cracked isn’t the issue.  The issue is enabling us to legally play the content on our PC’s.  That’s where Microsoft comes in.


  1. DRM is bad business for Microsoft

I agree that it’s not the best move in terms of changing the current thoughts of the content owners, but it is the right move to enable the consumer to play and purchase media in a digital form that can be played on their PC.  The average Windows consumer doesn’t understand why they have to purchase a DVD decoder to play a current DVD, how are they going to react when Microsoft says you can’t play an HD-DVD in your PC at all?


  1. DRM prevents fair-use

I agree.  As I have said before, most DRM/content protection does take away your fair use.  Microsoft is trying their best to enable you to use your media fairly by creating a system that will allow new legally ways to use the media that you have purchased.  As I have said before they can’t just say “&#%! You” to the content owners and enable you to do whatever you want with protected media (eg. they break it and allow you to use it as unprotected)


Many of you are trying to place Microsoft as the “DRM bad guy” when all they are trying to do is allow you to actually use the media you purchase!  If you want to lead the reform on DRM, more power to you!  That’s where the fight needs to be, at the root.  Microsoft is not the root here; they would have a much better business if they didn’t have to develop DRM systems to enable the users to play content.  The fact is that they do have to develop these systems if you want to play the content on your PC (and most of the market does)


  1. Piracy doesn’t impact sales

According to most of the studies that have been done, this is true and I would agree.  Piracy doesn’t impact sales to the point the content owners want us to think.


  1. Piracy doesn’t exist

A few people have claimed that piracy is just a big joke and is nothing to worry about.  While in point #4 I said that it doesn’t impact the majority of sales, illegal distribution is a problem.  You can find just about any album or movie to download illegal just by using Google.  Content owners should have the right to protect their content; it just needs to enable the people who purchase the media to use it fairly.

Release Notes for Vista Beta 1

Release Notes for Windows Vista Beta 1 and Windows Longhorn Server Beta 1 | eHome related notes…


The following eHome video features have been verified in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Analog TV (both NTSC and PAL) capture and playback in GraphEdit.

  • DVR-MS playback in GraphEdit and Microsoft Windows Media Player.

  • AVI, WMV, and MPEG1 playback in GraphEdit.

  • DVD playback in GraphEdit.

The following video capture boards have been verified to work in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Leadtek Conexant NTSC version

  • Hauppauge 32552 NTCS version


The following features have not been verified to work in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Digital TV capture (ATSC and DVB).

  • 64-bit TV capture and playback.

CinemaNow to Offer Selected Programs from HDNet’s High-Definition Library

CinemaNow to Offer Selected Programs from HDNet’s High-Definition Library | CinemaNow, Inc., the leader in video-on-demand for broadband, today announced an agreement with HDNet, the leading high-definition television network, to make several unique and exciting titles from HDNet’s original high-definition library available on a download-to-own basis via the CinemaNow Web site (www.cinemanow.com). This marks the first time that HDNet has made its distinct library of high-definition programming available on-demand via an online broadband service.


“HDNet features more original high-definition content than any other network, and we are always looking for innovative new media outlets to distribute our exciting line up of news, sports, music and entertainment programming,” said Mark Cuban, co-founder and president of HDNet. “As the leader in digital video distribution online, CinemaNow understands the value of high-definition content and allows us to reach an even greater audience for our original series.”


“As the demand for more high-definition content continues to grow, CinemaNow has quickly established itself as the leader in `HDVOD’,” said Bruce Eisen, president of CinemaNow. “HDNet represents one of the strongest brands in high definition, and we are thrilled to add their high-quality productions to our HD line-up.”


Among the content being made available on CinemaNow are over 100 episodes from HDNet’s vast library of original series, including “Across America,” “Get Out!” and several other HDNet specials. As part of the agreement, users of CinemaNow will be able to download permanent copies of HDNet’s programming for unlimited playback on the device they download it to. The high-definition versions will be available in Windows Media Video HD.

Ed Bott Brings His DRM Opinions and Issues

HDTV, MCE, DRM, and DCMA | Ed Bott offers his opinions on the DRM and content protection issues I have been discussing over the past week.  To cover Ed’s main points…


1.  It’s more of decrypting the signal that we have a problem with.  There are ways to capture a protected feeds from many of these technologies that provide copy/content protection, but unless you into watching or listening to pops, clicks, snow, etc then you want to be able to decrypt the signal.  All HDTV broadcast today is MPEG-2, and we decode MPEG-2 on our PC’s all the time (watching TV in Media Center requires decoding an MPEG-2 stream).  CableCARD is another specific example of the developers of the protection system setting the bar for what other companies must meet to being the technology into there product, I covered this a few times at eHomeUpgrade.


2.  While I didn’t cover the DMCA specifically (mainly because not enough people under it, nor do I think anyone fully understands it) I did cover Reexamining Sony v. Universal which I think might give us a better idea of what any company could get way with, without bring the DMCA as a whole into it.  The DMCA is always there, but I think that the similarities between Sony v. Universal and MGM v. Grokster would actually give the majority of people a better understand if Sony v. Universal was reexamined.  Also, the DMCA fits in with DRM as terms that make people uneasy, so I try and avoid it as much as I can (eg DRM = Content/Copy Protection)

Microsoft: If Your Xbox 360 Extender Only Plays WM….

it will fail.  The post below this one shows that Jason Dunn got a chance to play with the Xbox 360 and the Media Center Extender functions.  He is thinking that it will only support WMV playback (and DVR-MS of course).  If you are going to limit the playback formats of the Xbox 360 it will fail as the product you want it to be getting media around the house.


So, here’s what you do.  Unlike standalone Extenders we have now that use dedicated processors to decode the media, the Xbox 360 will have more then enough power to do full software decode.  Your going to need to use the Xbox Live Marketplace to allow people to purchase software decoders for third party formats.  This will solve the problem of licensing it and included it in the shipping Xbox (which raises the price).  Let the third parties develop the codec’s and sell them at there set prices.


I’ll be happy then, and so will most other people.

Jason Dunn Covers Xbox 360 & Media Center Integration

Back from the Longhorn Lab: Reporting on the Xbox 360 | “There’s a software update for Windows Media Center Edition 2005 PCs coming out fairly soon, code-named “Emerald”. The official name is “Roll Up 2 for Media Center Edition 2005″, and it will primarily add two features: support for the Xbox 360, and support for moving from 13 up to 33 countries in terms of guide support for TV. There were rumours about Emerald incorporating support for HDTV tuners, but that doesn’t seem to be the case based on what I was told.”

Microsoft on DRM, Content Protection, and PVP-OPM

Last week I posted My Views on Microsoft, DRM, and Content Protection (PVP-OPM).  I wanted to get my personal opinion on the issue out before I had a chance to read exactly what Microsoft was thinking.  I now have my reply from Microsoft about Digital Rights Management in Windows and technologies like PVP-OPM that will appear in Windows Vista.


Microsoft: “Our fundamental goal governing our content protection efforts is to ensure that “content flows”.  This requires coordination across multiple – and intimately related – dimensions, including:


  • Content owners making their content available
  • Services delivering the content using business rules that create incentives for the content owners
  • Consumers finding content they value and that is available on reasonable terms
  • Device manufacturers supporting the technology (DRM, codecs, etc) that provides flexibility and portability – which is what makes digital content so unique and desirable for consumers

As a platform provider, we provide the technology that allows these partners to test and implement new business models and scenarios.  It remains up to “the market” to determine the equilibrium that drives any free-enterprise system.  We are thrilled to see the PC becoming more widely used as an entertainment medium, and we are committed to ensuring that new premium content flows to the PC in the future.  Next-generation DVD content is a fantastic opportunity to offer even greater value to Windows users – so obviously we’d like consumers to have the choice of viewing next-gen DVDs on their PC.  These DVDs may specify policies around how this premium content is handled (such as supporting HDCP) as it’s transmitted to the monitor.  Any device – whether it be a PC or consumer electronic device – will need to ensure compliance with the specified policies otherwise they risk being unable to access the next-gen DVD content.  Clearly we think that offering next-gen DVD content on the PC is much preferable to having the PC excluded from accessing this premium content, so we’re working on things like Protected Media Path – Output Protection Management (PVP-OPM) to ensure that Windows users have the option of enjoying content they’ve never seen on the PC before.


These policies would only apply to premium content – where piracy concerns could preclude delivering high quality digital files “in the clear” as they are transmitted to the monitor.   This would be enabled by content owners at their discretion.  It is worth noting that PVP-OPM will not impact content that is available today, and that any Longhorn PC (Vista PC) will be able to play next-gen DVD content provided it is connected to a compliant monitor.  PCs can already connect to many plasma and LCD TV displays that are already compliant, and we’ll be working closely with our PC industry partners to ensure they don’t miss out on this opportunity as well.”