Vista Doesn't Add DRM To Unprotected Content

Out there, in the blogging world, a lot of facts can get mixed up with rumours and lies. George Ou has attempted to put an end to the whole Vista and DRM confusion. I said he "has attempted" simply because there will always be Microsoft haters who will continue to spew false information regardless of how hard the facts slap them in the face: "A lot of people have been screaming that Vista will deprive you of your rights with the inclusion of DRM technology. Bruce Schneier even referred to this DRM issue as a "security" issue for Vista even though he's merely referring to existence of DRM capability. We're hearing widespread rumors that DRM slows down game play. I even hear people blaming DRM for the lack of driver support in Vista."

Most people will read the above and shake their heads at people's ignorance. Others will mull the idea over in their head, trying to figure out how much of it is true. Many have already accepted it as fact. It is time to set the record straight. There is nothing in Windows Vista that will stop you from doing anything you've done on Windows XP, in terms of DRM and non-DRM audio or video. Windows Vista gives you the ability to play back DRMed content. It does not prevent you from playing back non-DRMed content. It also doesn't add DRM to your unprotected content. If you or anyone you know believe otherwise, please comment here - if you can prove it. I, for one, know for a fact you won't be able to. This news entry was written up on Windows Vista, while happily listening to music and ripping a DVD.

News source: ZDnet Blogs (via Windows-Now)

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he's right, this only happens with windows media player (vista's official player)

the point is, it's still WASTING resources when i'm playing non-DRM stuff. as a comparison

Media Player (2-5% CPU) + mfpmp (1-3% CPU) playing the same mp3 as media player classic, MPC (1-2% CPU)

mind you these aren't accurate tests, just some quick sampling in task manager. should i jump with joy knowing even with optimizations of the playback across cores WMP still uses much more resources than MPC? i haven't seen a video stutter in MPC, i have in WMP 11 on this machine. i guess that's more proof of Vista's efficiency kicking in.

my experience index? 4.7

the point is, it's still WASTING resources when i'm playing non-DRM stuff. as a comparison

Sure, but then it's probably not about DRM, but a crappier player. MPC often seemed to use lower resources to me than WMP so that wasn't really news for me.

Jugalator said,

Sure, but then it's probably not about DRM, but a crappier player. MPC often seemed to use lower resources to me than WMP so that wasn't really news for me.

mfpmp is directly related to DRM so why is it being used on my non-DRM stuff? you're right MPC has always been smaller/faster than media player even in XP so it's old news. i just wanted to dispel this MS propaganda that DRM stuff doesn't affect honest people who have legitimate media content. all of this DRM, licensing crap built into Vista is there because MS thinks we're all pirates instead of honest users period.

noespam said,

mfpmp is directly related to DRM so why is it being used on my non-DRM stuff? you're right MPC has always been smaller/faster than media player even in XP so it's old news. i just wanted to dispel this MS propaganda that DRM stuff doesn't affect honest people who have legitimate media content. all of this DRM, licensing crap built into Vista is there because MS thinks we're all pirates instead of honest users period.

mfpmp is doing the actual video decoding. Not wmplayer. Wmplayer is just sitting there, gobbling up resources by itself.

That really doesn't prove any points at all about DRM. DRM is present in wm10... Did anyone complain then? Microsoft has to support DRM since the consumers REQUIRE DRM in order to play-back content they buy in the market place. If Microsoft didn't support DRM, everyone would complain that they're not supporting it and they can't watch their content. It goes around both ways, sure Microsoft makes money off of it's DRM protection but the movie studios and music studios WANT it. If Microsoft didn't have it's own DRM solution, we'd probably be using some botched up one that would have to be licensed to be used in any media player. Be glad Microsoft isn't limiting Windows by not supporting what's out there in the community marketplace.

Bottom line: DRM is only used on DRM content, it doesn't affect your playback on regular files. That's just poor coding and/or bloat. Windows Media Classic is just that, slimmed down! It was basic and didn't have any extra features and bottom line was - it was optimized.

Exactly. That's exactly why I just took Vista off my machine and put XP back on. My computer far exceeds the minimums recommended for Vista (it had an experience rating of 3.5), but it felt dog slow. With XP back on it, it flies.

look in taskmgr for mfpmp.exe when you play non-DRM content. you're right you can play back non-DRM content but there's a little process that's wasting your CPU and memory as you do.

That will only run if you play mpeg/wmv (and possibly wma) content in Windows Media Player. Use another piece of software for playback and it won't run.

noespam said,
look in taskmgr for mfpmp.exe when you play non-DRM content. you're right you can play back non-DRM content but there's a little process that's wasting your CPU and memory as you do.

The MFPMP.exe wastes CPU because it's there where the media decoding is done when you use mediaplayer: they moved the decoding section to a standalone process to optimize the playback for multi-core CPUs like they did when moving the audio/video stack as standalone processes (user-mode drivers). If you have a multiple core CPU the video/audio drivers and video decoding overhead will be offloaded to the CPU with most free resources.

This is also done only with WMP, if you use other players they use they use the directshow filters directly as before.

Mythox said,

The MFPMP.exe wastes CPU because it's there where the media decoding is done when you use mediaplayer: they moved the decoding section to a standalone process to optimize the playback for multi-core CPUs like they did when moving the audio/video stack as standalone processes (user-mode drivers). If you have a multiple core CPU the video/audio drivers and video decoding overhead will be offloaded to the CPU with most free resources.

This is also done only with WMP, if you use other players they use they use the directshow filters directly as before.

My co-worker was screaming "When I play MP3s under Vista, this process eats (either 15 or 30, don't remember) percent of my CPU!" He uses a Pentium-M 2.16GHz.

In comparison: Foobar2000 in Win2000 uses <1% of an Athlon X2 2.4GHz (a CPU in a roughly comparable performance class) to play a MP3.

Something's a bit amiss.

Hak Foo said,
My co-worker was screaming "When I play MP3s under Vista, this process eats (either 15 or 30, don't remember) percent of my CPU!" He uses a Pentium-M 2.16GHz.

In comparison: Foobar2000 in Win2000 uses <1% of an Athlon X2 2.4GHz (a CPU in a roughly comparable performance class) to play a MP3.

Something's a bit amiss.

This is not normal, are you sure that he didn't turn on things like WoW, volume normalization or the equalizer? They use plenty of CPU.

By the way Pentium-Ms have power saving, and they lower the CPU speed if the CPU usage is not high, so for example while you play a mp3 and you're doing anything else CPU-intensive your CPU is automatically downclocked and because of that the CPU usage percentage in the task manager could not be accurate. He should try with speedstep turned off.

Mythox said,

This is not normal, are you sure that he didn't turn on things like WoW, volume normalization or the equalizer? They use plenty of CPU.

By the way Pentium-Ms have power saving, and they lower the CPU speed if the CPU usage is not high, so for example while you play a mp3 and you're doing anything else CPU-intensive your CPU is automatically downclocked and because of that the CPU usage percentage in the task manager could not be accurate. He should try with speedstep turned off.

:shrug:

For comparison, the X2 had Cool & Quiet turned on, which pretty much drops the multiplier to 5.0x (from 12.0x) giving 1000MHz all the time unless I force it by running something intensive.

I just put all my girlfriends and her mothers music and some DVD's on a Vista Home Premium based system at their home and they use a Windows XP Media Center system on the TV in the living room and they can watch/listen to everything I put on the Vista system perfectly fine. According to what those idiots said this would be impossible if Vista added DRM to every song or video. Wouldn't that be impossible to do anyway? Not every song or video would be played of the hard drive. I actually keep everything on CD-R myself.

Also the only reason SOME games run slow is because there's not any true FINAL drivers released for Vista by Nvidia or ATI yet. SOME games are going to be slow on Vista right now, that's common sense and that actually can't be blamed on Microsoft. All companies have had plenty of time to get decent drivers out and some simply waited til the last minute.

At last. These are the facts, the news, the articles which belong here.

There are too many users who think that Vista will block their divx and mp3. Thanks for posting this here.

It feels a bit sad it has to go this far to get the message through though. :(

This is what I've talked of on the Neowin boards for the past few months, and it keeps popping up... This about DRM impacting everyday use, so "I'd get Vista if it didn't have DRM!1"... Just makes me wonder how lacking some media support would help these users? Sure, I dislike DRM too, but I can also understand if giving the *option* to use it for those who don't mind is a logical thing to do.

Oh, and it's not just about this, many also think DRM somehow analyse everything video/audio and crippling performance, even when not playing DRM protected content, like games, ripped HD-DVDs, DVDs, or whatever. That's just as wrong...

And stuff like this is just plain sad:

[Update 4:25 PM - The researcher who Bruce Schneier cites who in turn is widely cited in the media as an expert on why Vista DRM is so evil actually admits to never actually even touching Windows Vista. That's the level of "research" he did.]

By far the best breakdown of all this confusion is I beleive this:

DVD Rip (DivX, XivD, etc) downloaded from Bit Torrent/IRC/etc: Output at whatever resolution you want. No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP. Don’t pirate stuff!

DVD Rip (VIDEO_TS, ISO) download from Bit Torrent/IRC/etc: Output at whatever resolution you want. No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP. Don’t pirate stuff!

WMV HD Downloads (MariposaHD, etc): Output at whatever resolution you want. No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP.

Apple/Quicktime HD Downloads: Output at whatever resolution you want. No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP.

Videocasts/blogcasts/Internet TV/IPTV: Output at whatever resolution you want. No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP.

DVR-MS (SD) Recordings: Output at whatever resolution you want. You can still edit recordings, convert recordings, etc unless they are CGMS-A protected. Works the same as Windows XP.

DVR-MS (HD) Recordings: Output at whatever resolution you want. You can still edit recordings, convert recordings, etc. Works the same as Windows XP.

MPEG-2/DivX/etc Recordings from 3rd Party PVRs: Output at whatever resolution you want. You can still edit recordings, convert recordings, etc. Works the same as Windows XP.

CableCARD: Content recorded from CableCARDs will follow the same sort of output regulations as HD DVD and Blu-ray. Not available in Windows XP.

DVD: Output at whatever resolution you want. If using Component, output is limited because of Macrovision. Use AnyDVD or like to output at whatever you want. Works the same as Windows XP.

HD DVD: If is ICT* set; output at 540p if you are not using HDCP. If using a digital connection (DVI, HDMI) with HDCP, output will be whatever you want always (ICT set or not). If ICT is not set, you can output at 1080p with VGA and 1080i with Component. Works the same as Windows XP.** CE (consumer electronics) HD DVD players (regular set-top boxes) must follow the same rules, not specific to Microsoft or Windows.

Blu-ray Disc (BD): If is ICT* set; output at 540p if you are not using HDCP. If using a digital connection (DVI, HDMI) with HDCP, output will be whatever you want always (ICT set or not). If ICT is not set, you can output at 1080p with VGA and 1080i with Component. Works the same as Windows XP.** CE (consumer electronics) BD players (regular set-top boxes) must follow the same rules, not specific to Microsoft or Windows.

Additions:

DVD Ripping: No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP
Tools like BackupHDDVD/BackupBluray: No restrictions. Works the same as Windows XP***
*AACS requires titles with ICT set be marked, so check the package before you purchase the movie. Currently, no titles have ICT set.
** The content protection framework in Vista will also allow for a more traditional DirectShow filter model of playback. Right now, playback is limited to within PowerDVD or WinDVD.
***Though, I have not tested them under Vista, there is nothing to stop or prevent them from specifically working.

This is from Chris Lanier's blog.

Conclusion - this "Vista DRM" stuff is pure and simple FUD.

Excellent response. Pity the FUD factory ignores this and chooses to spew out piles of crap regarding this. That's the type of thing you paste in every time some moron says "Vista has DRM and is evil" (Or something along those lines).

I can't passthrough ac3/dts through spdif with any of my soundcards on vista x64 with driver signing disabled (probably not if enabled either but one of the drivers is not signed)
I know a lot of people have that problem on vista x64, not so much on 32-bit though.
Good to know this is just a bug that will never be fixed rather than a feature, thanks

Vista x64 requires signed drivers for things, you can still install them though, but I think the only time you'll run into a problem with unsigned drivers is if you are infact playing DRM'd content and your sound cards driver isn't signed or something.

But again, these are options that are there, but if they are used by the content providers is a different matter.

I know some people hate MS, but I'm little surprised at just how much FUD has been posted online about Vista. Why is it being attacked so hard?? I'm sorry to be so stupid, but I just don't get it. I understand the MS bashing, as I've read it for years..but with Vista it seems to be above and beyond normal bashing.

Edit: forgot to say, good article. Sometimes you have to lay it out on the line. NICE!

Vista is being attacked because it's actually good. It was hyped up so much by the anti-MS crowd to be "the next ME" and it turns out that it's not. So now they've resorted to just making stuff up to try and make Vista look bad.

huh? who in the world would of thought that this would happen? anyone who did was just running around spreading rumors and lies...

I can't believe users actually THOUGHT that would have been true... :S

I mean.. All it would take them would be this conversation:

- Hey, can you play mp3s on Winamp and Vista?
- Yeah.
- Ah, ok.

It's just idiotic how far this has gone... This and that crap about DRM harming performance when not playing back DRM content.

Hmm, this is good to know. I had read several unsettling articles about the DRM in Vista back around release time, but I never really strayed so far as to say it would start DRMing non-DRMed content. It's good to know that this is true.
Come summer time and laptop upgrades I'll seriously consider switching.

Whoever thought that would happen is crazy, people don't like DRM as it is, but if they added DRM to every file on your PC, then it's be a financial death move.

It'd be like all the iPods adding apples drm to every mp3 file you put on it.

Vista just acts like a stand alone player does when you play drmed files, if you have none, and I don't, it won't effect anything.

About the HDCP and low res playback option, right now it's just a option, the token, or DRM flag that is needed for this to take effect and lower your playback res if you don't have a HDCP monitor isn't turned on. the MPAA and all the studios have said they won't use it. They might in a few years when every screen is HDCP etc, but by then, maybe new bosses will take over and they'll wakeup from this drm craze.

There are 3 problems with DRM Vista
1. It promotes DRM as a platform for business. While it is good for protecting copyrights, it is not so good for interoperability and data storage.
2. Then there is this A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection
3. From the article: You cannot watch HD-content on through a DVI-connection unless your hardware supports HDCP.

None of them conflict what the article says though, but it adds some shades of gray to the picture.

CheeseCow said,
There are 3 problems with DRM Vista
1. It promotes DRM as a platform for business. While it is good for protecting copyrights, it is not so good for interoperability and data storage.
2. Then there is this A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection
3. From the article: You cannot watch HD-content on through a DVI-connection unless your hardware supports HDCP.

None of them conflict what the article says though, but it adds some shades of gray to the picture.

They are the things the ??AA wants and requires of devices to run next generation content. While I don't agree with any of them (A fall in profit does not mean a rise in piracy if you only sell piles of **** all year round), that's what they've forced on to companies that want to use this content. From what I saw, it's only when the media requests this protected path stuff that it all comes in to play, so you can bet the first few generations won't have it enabled for obvious reasons.

The HDCP think, that's another restriction put in place by the paranoid fools at the MPAA. Microsoft is only providing the platform so you can watch it if you choose. You can bet this garbage will be baked in to stand alone players too.

3. From the article: You cannot watch HD-content on through a DVI-connection unless your hardware supports HDCP.

yes you can. all DRM'ed HD disks play fine in vista right now and shoudl not downscale. when (and more importantly IF) the HDCP Token is ever implemented then you will need a HDCP capable setup. but since this token is not implemnted yet and won't untill 2009-2011 at the earlier it's not a problem yet, and it won't be implemented untill a majority are able to play back HDCP content wich may take a logn time, and that is if they even do decide to enable the token.

and even so, the videos will still be played, but they'll be scaled down to a resolution between 480p and 720p.

CheeseCow said,
2. Then there is this A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

None of them conflict what the article says though, but it adds some shades of gray to the picture.

Actually the Guttman's analisys conflicts with the original story, because the guttman analisys never clearly states when DRM protections are activated (only during playback) and also Guttman took some facts from The Inquirer (yes, no joke).

Also about the 30ms drivers polling (that some FUD spreaders continue bringing on), that is also done only during playback. In fact there's this this official Microsoft document: http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/D...put_protect.doc that clearly says under the "PVP-OPM Play Sequence" (described as "This section describes what happens when content is played." so this stuff happens only when you're playing protected content)

"In addition to an initiated request, the vendor-supplied driver is required to poll the state of the hardware outputs at least once every 30 milliseconds if a user-accessible bus is present."

So as you can see, since the 30ms polling is listed under the "Play Sequence" this means that the polling is done only when the content is being played.

Ideas Man said,

They are the things the ??AA wants and requires of devices to run next generation content. While I don't agree with any of them (A fall in profit does not mean a rise in piracy if you only sell piles of **** all year round), that's what they've forced on to companies that want to use this content. From what I saw, it's only when the media requests this protected path stuff that it all comes in to play, so you can bet the first few generations won't have it enabled for obvious reasons.

What I don't understand:

The *AA seems to assume that they have the marketplace by the balls. I guess the assumption is "We have to make crippled formats, because they won't licence their songs/movies in ones that work."

But the fact is, it's the hardware manufacturers that really make it work. If your Samsungs and AMDs and Panasonics went out and said "We're not making (DRM format of the week) compatible gear, we'll make a format that's similar, but without DRM hassles", they'd be sunk-- the content producers would have to play along.

After all, those DRM-o-rama discs won't sell very well if they can't be played in anything, and (outside of Sony) which content providers have the facilities to manufacture players?

I'd expect the player manufacturers would prefer to do so, deep in their souls. It's cheaper to make with no DRM to licence, simpler to make with none to debug, and it's not like you'd see a consumer BACKLASH against offering it. Furthermore, establishing that it's the technology people, not the content people, that rule the roost, is important for the long-term profitability of the hardware sector. There's only so long they can keep selling players by just saying "today's format has higher resolution than yesterday's". If they don't want to reduce to a commodity product, selling with minimal profit, they're going to have to start developing products that provide more functionality, and probably some of that is going to rub the content-owners the wrong way.

I just don't get why they don't have the chutzpah to do it..

Hak Foo said,
But the fact is, it's the hardware manufacturers that really make it work. If your Samsungs and AMDs and Panasonics went out and said "We're not making (DRM format of the week) compatible gear, we'll make a format that's similar, but without DRM hassles", they'd be sunk-- the content producers would have to play along.

After all, those DRM-o-rama discs won't sell very well if they can't be played in anything, and (outside of Sony) which content providers have the facilities to manufacture players?

I'd expect the player manufacturers would prefer to do so, deep in their souls. It's cheaper to make with no DRM to licence, simpler to make with none to debug, and it's not like you'd see a consumer BACKLASH against offering it. Furthermore, establishing that it's the technology people, not the content people, that rule the roost, is important for the long-term profitability of the hardware sector. There's only so long they can keep selling players by just saying "today's format has higher resolution than yesterday's". If they don't want to reduce to a commodity product, selling with minimal profit, they're going to have to start developing products that provide more functionality, and probably some of that is going to rub the content-owners the wrong way.

I just don't get why they don't have the chutzpah to do it..

It's simple really, they don't do it because they have to license the technology in order to produce the players. If they then said they were going to remove the drm from it, they would be breaking the licensing terms.

bobbba said,
It's simple really, they don't do it because they have to license the technology in order to produce the players. If they then said they were going to remove the drm from it, they would be breaking the licensing terms.

You missed the point of the argument: Just because they've licensed the DRM from whoever made it doesn't lock them into only making players that support it. Hak Foo just wondered why the manufacturers don't just write off the licensing costs and make a player that doesn't play back content encoded with the DRM-of-the-month

bobbba said,

It's simple really, they don't do it because they have to license the technology in order to produce the players. If they then said they were going to remove the drm from it, they would be breaking the licensing terms.

They could stand up and fight the RIAA/MPAA, but, it'd take the whole industry as a whole to do so, and yesterday EMI said, if they want to take DRM out, that's fine, but they'll have to pay more to license the songs insted.

So it's hard to win this one, we can be done with DRM tomorrow, but then they'll just turn around and sell CDs for $20-$30 and movies for $50 or more.