Green party

Green Party asks: who has the key to your Vista PC?

29 January 2007

Microsoft's latest operating system, due for release tomorrow, is defective by design, putting Microsoft and the corporate media in control of your computer. (1)

Beneath the gloss they have hidden traps that take away important consumer rights, force expensive and environmentally damaging hardware upgrades.

All computer hardware, such as monitors and sound cards, will have to obey Microsoft's rules for encrypting content in order for consumers to use Vista to play 'premium' content, such as Blu-Ray and HD DVD disks. Although it is unlikely to prevent copying, it will make Vista more attractive to Hollywood film distributors, while also locking them into a Vista content distribution system.

Derek Wall, Green Party Male Principal Speaker, said: "So-called 'digital rights management' technology in Vista gives Microsoft the ability to lock you out of your computer. Technology should increase our opportunities to consume media, create our own and share it with others.

"But Vista helps the corporate media take away our consumer rights. Silence in government betrays a shocking complacency in the face of this latest attack on our rights."

Vista will also be power hungry, as it requires more processing time to encrypt and decrypt 'premium' content, and looks around the computer every few milliseconds to check that nothing is trying to distribute de-coded 'premium' video or sound.

He continued, "Vista requires more expensive and energy-hungry hardware, passing the cost on to consumers and the environment. This will also further exclude the poor from the latest technology, and impose burdensome costs on small and medium businesses who will be forced to enter another expensive upgrade cycle."

Consumers, businesses and government bodies should protect their interests by migrating to free software, rather than upgrading to Vista, says Wall.

"Free software can run on existing hardware, reduces licensing costs for small businesses and affords important freedoms to consumers. The UK Government should capitalise on this opportunity to promote the use of free software in public bodies."

Greens predict that an enormous amount of hardware will be junked by consumers and companies as Vista will refuse to play Blu-Ray and HD DVD content with current monitors and sound cards.

Siân Berry, Green Party Female Principal Speaker added:

"There will be thousands of tonnes of dumped monitors, video cards and whole computers that are perfectly capable of running Vista - except for the fact they lack the paranoid lock down mechanisms Vista forces you to use. That's an offensive cost to the environment.

"Future archaeologists will be able to identify a 'Vista Upgrade Layer' when they go through our landfill sites."

By controlling the technology that delivers video content on computers, and owning the licenses that make the hardware and software work, Microsoft will be in a very strong position to dictate terms to consumers and content producers. Apple's itunes store works in a similar way already, selling songs that can only be played on Apple ipods and iTunes software.

"We should remember that this is about Microsoft trying to dictate the way that video content gets delivered - much as Apple are trying to do with iTunes - in order to corner the market.

"Now is the time to act, if we want to see the Microsoft monopoly kept out of the video market."

She added that Green Party also supported complaints by computer manufacturers that XAML, a Vista-only internet mark-up standard, would be another attempt to extend Microsoft's virtual monopoly.(2)

"Microsoft are determined not to play fair and we hope the EU stand up to them. The best way of course is to insist that we purchase products that work with open rather than closed standards."

(1) www.microsoft.com

(2) www.theglobeandmail.com