Trusted computing? Not with Microsoft

A while back I wrote about trusted computing and how Microsoft’s implementation, the Next Generation Secure Computing Base, was set to impose onerous restrictions on computer owners, such as preventing them from playing legally purchased media with a player not approved by Microsoft. The post got some scathing criticism from some trusted computing practitioners who missed the point. Trusted computing is not the problem; Microsoft is.

Recently the Trusted Computing Group released a best practices document, Design, Implementation and Usage Principles for TPM-Based Platforms. The document, which Bruce Schneier reviewed in detail, says, among other things, that implementations should give the owner ultimate control of their computers and not put up interoperability roadblocks.

Even if not perfect, it’s a good start. I would trust a trusted computing implementation that followed these guidelines. So what’s the problem? “Microsoft is doing its best to stall the document, and to ensure that it doesn’t apply to Vista (formerly known as Longhorn), Microsoft’s next-generation operating system,’ said Schneier.

If the document applied to Windows Vista, Microsoft would not be able to implement several planned DRM features at the request of Hollywood, such as the Protected Media Path.

Microsoft appears to be abusing its monopoly position (again) to gain even greater control over users’ PCs. This time, they’ve got the Hollywood studios backing them.

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