Vista DRM Cracked

Seems a suitable development during the OSes launch week.

Clearly – whether we like it or not – today is going to be a day all about Windows Vista and after the launch celebrations there has been some distinctly less positive news for Microsoft.

Programmer Alex Ionescu (there’s Romanian ancestry in their somewhere) claims he has cracked Vista’s ‘Protected Media Path’ – the DRM which is used by Microsoft to downgrade the quality of high definition content when it is played back on non-HDCP capable outputs or unapproved hardware or drivers.

In practical terms this development is great news for many because it will allow older monitors and graphics cards to display HD video in its full glory and – it could be argued – when you legally purchase an OS with this capability you should be allowed to use it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re of the Gatesian persuasion) Alex writes that he is afraid to release his hack to the world for fear of being sued off the planet by Microsoft’s – no doubt hardened – crack team of lawyers. Ionescu did reveal however that the exploit works without using any special drivers and simply fools the OS into believing a system has passed all pre-requisite checks.

Ultimately, whether the code itself is released or not the announcement signals that Protected Media Path is unlikely to stand in the way for much longer. With Blu-ray and HD DVD security already bypassed too, it seems we may not need to splash out on a new HDMI/HDCP equipped monitor and graphics card after all….

Alex Ionescu Blog Page

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