Microsoft Only Allowing Hi-Def Playback in 64-bit Windows?
I guess that Microsoft wants to get into the home media PC market so badly they are willing to agree to anything that the MPAA asks. That is the only reason why I can think of as to why they would only provide 64-bit DRMed drivers for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.
Also, since they won't allow the installation of any unsigned drivers into 64-bit Vista, there is little to no chance of a hack… I'm sure someone will figure something out, but this move is just indicative of just how much Microsoft has lost as far as the home theater is concerned, well I guess that should be how much they have lost in the portable media market. I know that Microsoft realizes that this will piss people off. I think that they made a trade-off with the movie studios. I think the deal went like this:
MPAA: “We'd like to insert the DRM at the OS level”
Microsoft: “Well, what would be in it for us.”
MPAA: “We could make sure that the movie studios play ball with you and a potential digital hi-def movie download service that would be way past anything Apple could put together.”
Microsoft: “OK, Done.”
Its as simple as that. Microsoft needs to have something to put on their “Zune” that would be something that the iPod didn't have. A massive library of new and old movies would be something that Apple didn't have and couldn't have since Apple seems to be trying to strong-arm music studios.
I dont envy Microsoft's position, but really they don't need to battle Apple and their iPod. Nor do they need to come up with something better than the iTunes music store. What they need to do is build an excellent platform for developers to create applications that would end up being better that iTunes. iTunes does an exceptionally crummy job of organizing music and videos. Their search is awful. There are a lot of terrible things about the iTunes music store. Plus I hate that they are bundling QuickTime with the iTunes download. Moreover, at least Microsoft will license their wma DRM. If I want to buy a new player down the road, I'll have to burn all my purchased music and re-rip it. That is just stupid.
The biggest problem with DRM is that it causes usually early adopters of new technologies to pause. This delays the acceptance of new technologies because most people who know those early adopters trust their opinions. If they are holding off, everyone they know will hold off too. The losers here are going to be Microsoft, Sony, and Panasonic. No one is going to buy blu-ray or HD-DVD unless they are forced on them with their game consoles.
The reason that forcing users to use 64-bit Windows on 64-bit chips is a problem is not because 64-bit chips are so rare and expensive. On the contrary, they are everywhere. The problem is that with Vista, you can't upgrade your 32-bit installation to 64-bit. At least as of the last public beta. In fact, I don't even know if you can do the “Archive and Install” method where it saves your old installation in a sort of “old” folder so that you can still get at your files. I think that you will have to wipe the hard drive and start again, which most users will be reluctant, if not out and out resistant to doing. Furthermore, if users can't upgrade their 32-bit installs, they will have to pay for the Vista 64-bit Ultimate edition. Depending on the licensing strategy, they may not be able to buy an upgrade, they might have to pay for the full version.
What all this boils down to is Microsoft preventing people from playing Blu-Ray and HD-DVD content on their computers, which I'm sure makes the MPAA happy. It sucks for the consumer though, because it limits how they will use their products. After all, we're buying this stuff. I for one am not really interested in movies distributed on discs anymore. I'm for massive hard drives, and downloadable MP4 or DIVX movie service. I'll take Hi-Def MP4 over some disc any day!