The Xbox 360 is a dry run for "Trusted Computing". The new console has a slew of anti-modder technology to make it impossible to run unauthorized software. Who authorizes Xbox 360 software? Microsoft.

Intel, Microsoft, IBM, etc are colluding to bring the same sort of technology to PCs to prevent you from using unauthorized software. Who authorizes software? Not you.

It's a sure bet "Trusted Computing" is going to bring us a new level of digital rights management hell. Sony won't have to do something stupid to stop you from legally copying music; the operating system and processor will do it for them. Your monitor will collaborate. Dell is about to ship LCDs with HDCP so that your screen won't display unauthorized video. Who authorizes video? Not you.

If all this byzantine technology just made it harder for people to steal music and movies I wouldn't mind. But the collateral damage is too great. The new wave of hardware-assisted DRM means that your PC is going to be a jail full of complex interior locks that prevent you from doing anything that some pointy-headed copyright holder doesn't think you should do. I should have the right to authorize the software that runs on my computers. I won't.

The old Xbox tried to stop modders too, but they got it wrong. It remains to be seen how hard it will be to mod the Xbox 360 or the new PC systems. I fear once the restrictions are in the hardware it will be very hard to fix.

  2005-12-07 17:03 Z