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Oh, the humanity: Windows 7's draconian DRM?
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 13:13

Once again, we see fanciful claims about ludicrous DRM schemes in the new Windows operating system, but a closer look suggests that Windows isn't to blame after all. Most users, in fact, won't even notice Windows 7's DRM.

By Peter Bright | Last updated February 18, 2009 9:00 AM

The popular technology website Slashdot plumbed new depths on Tuesday with a post about the terrible DRM situation in Windows 7. Proving that some sites will publish just about anything as long as it's anti-Microsoft, the post enumerated the DRM restrictions that Windows 7 apparently inflicts on the honest and upstanding computer user.

What was claimed? Well, some guy decided that he wanted to crack his (legally purchased, no doubt) copy of Photoshop on his Windows 7 install. Windows 7 then sprung into life to break his crack, defend Photoshop's virtue against his unwelcome advances, protect a load of random DLLs from deletion, and open up the firewall so that Adobe could see that he was up to no good. Yup yup. To add insult to injury, Windows 7 then crippled the dude's sound card. Or something.

As is so often the case with this kind of story, the truth is more prosaic. The most likely reason that Photoshop broke is that either the crack didn't work or was the wrong version. Windows doesn't actually know what Photoshop is—it's just another application, no different from any other—and the operating system certainly doesn't contain special programming to detect and destroy Photoshop cracks.

Nor, for that matter, did Windows 7 magically open up the firewall. The Photoshop installer did that. And it only had permission to do that because the person installing the software gave it Administrator privileges so that it had access to the firewall configuration.

And the audio capabilities? They're largely determined by the sound drivers that are installed. The ones that ship on-disc are quite limited and don't offer any of the fancy sound processing or multiple outputs that custom drivers provide, but they do work. The particular complaint here is that Windows 7 lacks a "Stereo Mix" audio input. The "Stereo Mix" input allows the output of the sound card to be recorded directly, which is useful for capturing program output. But the reason there's no Stereo Mix is that the drivers the complainant was using doesn't support them. Third-party/custom drivers may continue to offer Stereo Mix, What-U-Hear, or any other equivalent; it's just the built-in ones that don't. They don't really do much at all, leaving scope for third parties to offer improvements on the base capabilities of the OS.

[ARS Technica...]   [Comments...]

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