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Analysis of Microsoft's Suicide Note (Part 2)

by oday posted at 2007-01-12 19:37 last modified 2007-11-27 09:03 Copyright 2006 Oliver Day, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

“Some argue that the consumer gets little or negative ‘benefit’ from this increase, this is false. The consumer gets premium content on their PC”

Pete Levinthal
Software Engineering
ATI Technologies, Inc

This is a fair statement. Playing HD content from a Blueray or HD DVD disk is clearly an advantage that end users would appreciate. So in the sense that a benefit is an advantage I would say Levinthal’s statement is accurate. However, benefit can also refer to “profit” which would make his statement questionable. Considering that he mentions ‘negative “benefit”‘ I think we should delve further into this connotation. Profit is the positive difference between the amount spent and the amount earned. So in purely mathematical terms the amount of “cost” to the end user to play premium content must be lower then the amount gained in the operation of HD playback for a profitable expierence. I believe it is safe to assume what the amount gained is, HD playback. What isn’t so clear is what the costs are. In the programmers universe cost is generally associated with amounts of cpu cycles spent solving some problem. Thus if a programmer writes a function for a program which needlessly recomputes values it is considered “expensive”. An accomplished programmer can write elegant solutions which do not incur much cost.

Keeping the previous definition of “cost” in mind I think it is fitting to look into what the premium content protection really costs a user. From this analysis we can make a fair judgement on whether a user profits overall from the ability to play HD content. According to the Microsoft presentations here,   here,   here, and   here the playback of HD content requires no less then two rounds of encryption/decryption before the video is sent to the display. First the video comes from the original HD media in encrypted format and is decoded. That decoded media is then encoded again using the AES algorithm and sent across the PCIe bus. Once it reaches the other side of that bus it is decoded and then sent across the HDMI interface to the display.

The entire process is documented here in a presentation by Microsoft:

Based on my own valuation of HD content playback I would say that the price is either near or exceeding the gain of watching content on my PC. Clearly the price of these computations goes down every 18 months* by 50% according to Moore’s law. This led to my earlier prediction that an affordable and usable system running Vista is perhaps 5 years away. Before I close on this installment I want to give a preview of the next piece I have lined up. This image struck me and has pervaded my thoughts about this article.

Why Do
This image from a presentation delivered by Dave Marsh (Program Manager, Windows Media Technologies) captures how Microsoft frames this problem. Perhaps not intentional but all too apparent in this image is their end user acting deviously and maliciously hurting Hollywood, Microsoft, and probably America.

* Wikipedia cites Moore as stating 12 months between the doubling of transistors which given my previous statement would reduce the distance of a usable and affordable system 3.3 years away. There are other references in the article that state the chip making industry adheres to the “doubling every 18 months”. My prediction was that of 3.5x current capacities for an affordable system to play back HD content on a Vista PC.

Analysis of Microsoft's Suicide Note (part 1) Analysis of Microsoft's Suicide Note (part 1)
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by oday last modified 2007-11-27 09:03 Copyright 2006 Oliver Day, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

I am having the last laugh!

Posted by scripter scripter at 2006-12-15 12:28
And to imagine that my schoolmates believe they get better "visual" experiences on Windows Vista!!
Long live GNU

Re:Analysis of Microsoft's Suicide Note (Part 2)

Posted by aanrart aanrart at 2008-03-04 11:34
Reasons not 2 buy Vista
1)Its not free software
2)Its bloatware
3)Its spyware,malware
4)Wat compelling/new reason 2 buy Vista?
5)GNU/Linux rocks n its updated more frequently than anything out there


Posted by unvista unvista at 2008-05-29 14:38
So, if you bought a system too slow to handle the excessive encryption with Vista pre-installed, here's what you need to do:

* ignore the fact your system can't do the things promised in a satisfactory way - maybe use it to type email or something...

* wait 3.3 years

* buy new "compatible" hardware to handle the excessive strain caused by vista

* pray that the drivers all work - they probably won't

* buy a new copy of Vista for your new hardware - remember how they don't let you transfer you "lease" of Vista to the new computers? (unless you bought it retail)

* do something (sell?) your old computer

* clear out all your files - don't want to give away personal information - best to reformat your harddrive - you got working backup disks with your computer, didn't you? If not, you're screwed.

* re-read the legal licensing agreements to see if Microsoft has changed them to disallow the selling of your license of Vista with your computer - better have a sharp legal mind ready just in case

* advertise your computer for sale

* ship or deliver your computer to your customer

* follow up with post-sale issues

Oh, if you still have problems getting the promised functionality to work, Microsoft already has your money and doesn't care. Good luck!
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The BadVista campaign, started in December 2006, advocated for the freedom of computer users, opposing adoption of Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free (as in freedom) software alternatives. It declared victory in January 2009, with supporters moving on to do the same work against Windows 7.

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