CNET on PVP-OPM In Vista, and Cory Doctorow on PVP-OPM

Hollywood, Microsoft align on new Windows (CNET) | CNET has a piece of PVP-OPM (aka Protected Video Path) Also they have an FAQ on what it actually means to you.


Cory Doctorow (EFF) adds his opinion, and thinks PVP-OPM limits what you can do with your music and movies.  As usual, Cory is looking at this from the fact that DRM doesn’t work and is not needed (He’s generally right about that).  Microsoft, on the hand is looking at it the smart way from a business standpoint.


People don’t want to be limited on what they can do with their media, and without PVP-OPM in Vista, they don’t get to play the media at all!  How’s that for a limit, Cory?  Playing the media needs a system that fits what the copy protection system deemed secure, without it, the media can’t be played.  We just saw that Media Center PC’s have accounted for 43% of all desktop PC sales since July 9th, 2005.  As soon as Intel launches their Viiv-based PC’s, this number will jump even more.  When people buy a PC they want to be able to play what they have purchased.  This includes next-gen DVD’s like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, along with capturing current content from something like a CableCARD.  None of which can happen without PVP-OPM.  Too bad Viiv-based PC’s will not be able to do this upon launch.


Other people keep telling me Vista will drive them to Linux and other “open” OS’s, it’s going to suck when they can’t play the content they have purchased and they can’t capture the content they might already pay for!

15 thoughts on “CNET on PVP-OPM In Vista, and Cory Doctorow on PVP-OPM

  1. Let me as you this, Chris… How much will it cost to upgrade all those 43% of sold PCs to beable to play next-gen DVDs like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD? Practically none of them can decode HD H.264. Some may have integrated graphics that won’t beable to decode H.264. I figure, you’ll have to buy the full Vista operating system since there are no upgrade versions for OEM versions of Windows. Then you have the acctual Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives. And on top of that you’ll need a HDCP compliant TV. All of this will initially cost alot.

    Your point that alot of people are getting into media center PCs is valid. People will want to continue to use them. But it will probably take quite a while and a fresh batch of new machines before you can utilize them for Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. DRM will mean that all of us who have bought a media center pc and HDTV early atleast need need a new OS and a new TV. This will stop alot of people from adopting the new standards. Initially it’ll probably be more cost efficient to just get a STB for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD playback… or play them on a PS3 or Xbox 360. This might be a threat against media center PCs initially.

    That said, I agree that DRM (or something similiar) is probably a necessary evil to get more content into our media centers in the long run. However, it may limit innovations etc. Initally, DRM will be a real pain in the —.

  2. This is false logic: If Windows has DRM, then media is available. If Windows does not have DRM, then media is not available. You fail to acknowledge that if Hollywood is forced to change, then media can be available on non-DRM Windows (or any other operating system). Since the government will eventually move to free operating systems, it will only take one politician unable to watch a porno in his office on his government PC and all of DRM will come crumbling down. Everyone agrees it’s not Microsoft’s fault that this DRM mess exists, but Microsoft can either fight it (they push everyone else around, why not Hollywood?), ignore it (thereby letting Hollywood shoot themselves in the foot and miss out on 98% of the computer owning public), or actively do everything they can to drag digital media back a few decades. It’s sad that they chose the latter.

  3. Seb’s right. I will not be watching HD DVD’s from my computer any time soon, unless I win the lotto. Less than 9 months ago I bought my HDTV and I have been upgrading my computer over the last several months – only to find out that I can’t play HD content through my computer to my tv.

    I guess not only Softy, but other consumer electronics too. What percentage of HDTV’s in peoples’ home are HDCP compliant? I can’t believe Hollywood would leave them in the dust.

  4. " I have been unable to find any HDTV with either DVI and/or HDMI inputs that does not support HDCP."

    And you probably won’t be able to find one. That in itself isn’t a (huge) problem. It’s when HiDef content playing devices will ONLY output HiDef signals to "approved" HDCP compliant devices only, and will downrez/sample if the device isn’t approved or if you try and use analog HDTV connection methods like component video input.

    Now if your PC via vista "demands" being connected to an approved display device or it won’t output HiDef quality from say blu-ray source for example… even on your "regular" PC monitor/LCD unless IT has HDCP or the like, that’s kinda a problem.

    *shrug* off to read cory’s comments as he probably puts a finer point on PVP-OPM than I did/could.


  5. BRIAN ZELLINGER: You will need to check the manual that was included with your TV to make sure it supports HDCP.

    Seb: You are correct about the upgrade process. Many people will not be able or willing to upgrade for various reasons. However, that doesn’t change that people will want to play the content when it becomes readily available.

    The content protection that was picked for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray means will need a new TV and such. Microsoft, Vista, PVP-OPM have nothing to do with that. Since the content protection was there, Microsoft wants to be able to provide a system that allows the content to actually play.

    Carlos: It’s not false logic. If Windows has the needed ‘DRM’, the consumer can playback the media they purchase. If Windows doesn’t have the needed’DRM’, the consumer can’t play the media. Plain and simple. The mass market isn’t going to stop buying media because they can’t play it on their PC, however _many_ people do wish to be able to play the media. When they can’t, who do they blame? Microsoft, right? The way these content protection systems are being designed now-a-days, it going to be hard for a third party developer to get deep enough in Windows to allow everything to work the way it must so approval can be had through the developers of that specific content protection system. Not being able to play the media on a PC doesn’t kill Hollywood, it kills the whole Digital Media Division (and many parts of other divisions) at Microsoft along with SEVERAL ISV’s. How about the OEM’s that advertise purchasing a PC so you can watch DVD’s? HD-DVD or Blu-Ray (both?) will replace DVD, just as DVD has replaced VHS.

  6. After going back and forth with Chris about this in a different entry I started to give the benefit of the doubt to Vista, drooling over the possibility of the mythical unicorn PC cablecard that hypothetically Vista PVP-OPM controls would deliver us. The more I read/learn about "Vista" and it’s Media sandbox, the more uneasy I get about the whole thing.

    Forgoing the "No DRM == No Soup for you" argument… how can locking the media files in a sandbox facilitate innovation?

    Maybe Gadget Fetish Evan was right…

    This smells more and more like a move to get MS locked into the livingroom as a "standard" than it does about getting consumers the content they want in a manner that appeases "hollywood".

    How can you have a 3rd party MPEG decoder/filter if you lock the media down in the manner described in the CNET article? And don’t tell me API yadda yadda, if the "API" allowed you to access the stream after it’s unencrypted you could "dvdjon fair play" your content right out…

    Stifling is the word I’d use to describe this scheme.


  7. The developers of the content protection system set the standard. Nothing is stopping anyone from developing a framework for playback on Linux (except, maybe the openness of the OS). You can bet you will have playback of Blu-Ray disc’s on the Mac (altough, I bet only on Intel).

    I doubt DirectShow is going anywhere (although, the merit technique better change in Vista), the process of developing a filter to pass the video to the protected bits in the OS might be a little different, I really don’t know.

  8. Here’s a quote from

    "But did you know that the 3 year old standard employed by these devices, HDCP, is not even yet present in the highest of the high end of current display devices? This means that in all likelyhood, even high-end $3,000 displays will not be able to play newer content at full capacity, if at all."

    How many HDTV’s do people have in their homes? Let’s say in America, there’s 50,000 HDTV’s in peoples’ homes. (Probably a lot more than that.) We all spent a lot of cash on these. Hollywood is saying no to all of these 50,000 HDTVs.

    Am I correct on this? Please tell me I’m wrong.

  9. Hats off, Erik. Thanks… I think.

    Honestly, I’d rather be wrong. However, seeing as how I subscribe to the John C. Dvorak school of believing that big business is out to make shareholders a quick buck at anyone else’s expense, I’m fairly sure that I’m right.

    Microsoft wants to own you.

    Think about it. Xbox 360 is a Media Center Extender. Vista is rumored to have MCE out of the box. I’ll even betcha that Vista will have "Softsled" capability (one of my more recent rants on my blog). The only way that you can gain entry to that party is if you pay Microsoft their licensing fee to client to MCE ala Linksys/HP with their pathetic Windows CE-based extenders.

    By DRMing the hell out of Vista, despite any claims to the contrary, they’re trying to entice big media over to the Microsoft party before anyone else (*cough* Apple *cough*) can. Microsoft wants to be your once and future computer for everything digital.

    Man, if MCE is standard in Vista, I hope that the 3rd Party DVR ISVs head straight to the Hill waiving copies of Sherman in front of every senator and congressman that they can find. That means that, once again, "Microsoft" is also spelled "monopoly" to those not in the know.

  10. All I know is that I have a Media Center PC that I’ve built myself (and sunk a lot of money into) that I output via component to my TV and/or VGA to my projector.

    My understanding is that protected HD content will not be able to go to either of these under Vista. If that’s the case then it’s not an "upgrade" so much as a "castration," and one that I will not accept.

    So that leaves me with no option for content? I have no problem NOT paying for something that I can’t use. I have a BIG problem paying for something that I can’t use.

  11. After having read the whitepaper on PVP-OPM on, There’s 2 options:

    1) Blue-Ray and HD-DVD won’t play.

    2) You’ll have "Constricted" quality on Blue-Ray and HD-DVD content. Basically it will down sample/scale everything to 480p (Current DVD quality) and then output it that signal.

    Which one you get is up to the content creator. From the sounds of it Microsoft has been advocating that content creators go the route of lower quality output rather than none at all.

    Here’s the URL for the whitepaper:

  12. Aside from all this about PVP and all that, I just don’t think Blu-Ray or HD-DVD will catch hold. People just (in the marketplace standard of "just") got finished buying a DVD player. Now they’re saying to get another player? Nah. I don’t see it happening. They’re going to be about as successful at replacing DVDs as higher-end audio DVDs have been at replacing CDs (meaning not at all).

    Then again, I suppose I could be wrong.

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