website hit counter July 2005 - Posts - Chris Lanier

July 2005 - Posts

Diamond, What Little Is Known?

Diamond, What Little Is Known? | Quote:For those who do not know, Diamond is the next version of Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition. Diamond will be based on Windows Vista like the past versions of MCE have been based on XP. Because of the complexity and how advance the UI is, it is said that Diamond will have its own special Aero Tier. A tier requiring much higher system specifications than even Aero Glass. Not too much is known feature wise about Diamond, but I can tell you of a couple features. DRM will be much improved with Diamond, I am not sure how exactly, but the way DRM files are handled and verified will be much easier and quicker. As someone who buys their music from the MSN Music Store (Yup, they use DRM) I will find improvements in this area useful. The second feature I can tell you about is that TV Viewing, especially HDTV will be improved with better quality viewing.

No one outside Microsoft knows what level of graphical power and memory Diamond will need. But I am hazarding a guess that the GPU power will need a recent DX9 card and around 2GB of RAM. Why that much RAM? Well for those who currently aim for the premium MCE 2005 experience these days will know that for a lag free session with MCE, you require around 1GB of RAM. So with the new graphical and other requirements of Diamond, I can make a guess that 2GB would be around the “recommended” amount of memory for a good experience.”


Ummm.... MCE 2005 doesn’t need 1GB of RAM to be lag free, that’s a bad statement.  512MB will do just fine.

Posted by chrisl | 5 comment(s)

Top Arguments To Microsoft and DRM (Really Just To DRM)

Most of the big arguments that I have been getting on my DRM posts are posted below.  The majority of them don’t specifically relate to Microsoft and DRM, rather the concept of DRM and content protection.


  1. DRM doesn’t work and doesn’t prevent piracy

I agree.  If you look at the DRM and content protection systems I listed in my first post, you will find that only CableCARD (UDCR) and PSP-PDM have not been cracked (at least that I know about).  DRM Systems don’t work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason for Microsoft to support or include a system in their OS.  The content is protected, when it will be cracked isn’t the issue.  The issue is enabling us to legally play the content on our PC’s.  That’s where Microsoft comes in.


  1. DRM is bad business for Microsoft

I agree that it’s not the best move in terms of changing the current thoughts of the content owners, but it is the right move to enable the consumer to play and purchase media in a digital form that can be played on their PC.  The average Windows consumer doesn’t understand why they have to purchase a DVD decoder to play a current DVD, how are they going to react when Microsoft says you can’t play an HD-DVD in your PC at all?


  1. DRM prevents fair-use

I agree.  As I have said before, most DRM/content protection does take away your fair use.  Microsoft is trying their best to enable you to use your media fairly by creating a system that will allow new legally ways to use the media that you have purchased.  As I have said before they can’t just say “&#%! You” to the content owners and enable you to do whatever you want with protected media (eg. they break it and allow you to use it as unprotected)


Many of you are trying to place Microsoft as the “DRM bad guy” when all they are trying to do is allow you to actually use the media you purchase!  If you want to lead the reform on DRM, more power to you!  That’s where the fight needs to be, at the root.  Microsoft is not the root here; they would have a much better business if they didn’t have to develop DRM systems to enable the users to play content.  The fact is that they do have to develop these systems if you want to play the content on your PC (and most of the market does)


  1. Piracy doesn’t impact sales

According to most of the studies that have been done, this is true and I would agree.  Piracy doesn’t impact sales to the point the content owners want us to think.


  1. Piracy doesn’t exist

A few people have claimed that piracy is just a big joke and is nothing to worry about.  While in point #4 I said that it doesn’t impact the majority of sales, illegal distribution is a problem.  You can find just about any album or movie to download illegal just by using Google.  Content owners should have the right to protect their content; it just needs to enable the people who purchase the media to use it fairly.

The Media Center Show #18

The Media Center Show #18 - Shuttle | 29th July 2005 (37min 46sec) MP3 - 13MB (Download Here)


This week Ian Dixon talked with Sebastien Messier from Shuttle about there new Media Center PC and building Media Center PC’s.


Also, emails from Simon Greenwood and Steve Serabian.


Remember, Vote for The Media Center show on Podcast Alley!

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Release Notes for Vista Beta 1

Release Notes for Windows Vista Beta 1 and Windows Longhorn Server Beta 1 | eHome related notes...


The following eHome video features have been verified in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Analog TV (both NTSC and PAL) capture and playback in GraphEdit.
  • DVR-MS playback in GraphEdit and Microsoft Windows Media Player.
  • AVI, WMV, and MPEG1 playback in GraphEdit.
  • DVD playback in GraphEdit.

The following video capture boards have been verified to work in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Leadtek Conexant NTSC version
  • Hauppauge 32552 NTCS version


The following features have not been verified to work in this release of Windows Vista versions of Windows:

  • Digital TV capture (ATSC and DVB).
  • 64-bit TV capture and playback.

CinemaNow to Offer Selected Programs from HDNet's High-Definition Library

CinemaNow to Offer Selected Programs from HDNet's High-Definition Library | CinemaNow, Inc., the leader in video-on-demand for broadband, today announced an agreement with HDNet, the leading high-definition television network, to make several unique and exciting titles from HDNet's original high-definition library available on a download-to-own basis via the CinemaNow Web site ( This marks the first time that HDNet has made its distinct library of high-definition programming available on-demand via an online broadband service.


"HDNet features more original high-definition content than any other network, and we are always looking for innovative new media outlets to distribute our exciting line up of news, sports, music and entertainment programming," said Mark Cuban, co-founder and president of HDNet. "As the leader in digital video distribution online, CinemaNow understands the value of high-definition content and allows us to reach an even greater audience for our original series."


"As the demand for more high-definition content continues to grow, CinemaNow has quickly established itself as the leader in `HDVOD'," said Bruce Eisen, president of CinemaNow. "HDNet represents one of the strongest brands in high definition, and we are thrilled to add their high-quality productions to our HD line-up."


Among the content being made available on CinemaNow are over 100 episodes from HDNet's vast library of original series, including "Across America," "Get Out!" and several other HDNet specials. As part of the agreement, users of CinemaNow will be able to download permanent copies of HDNet's programming for unlimited playback on the device they download it to. The high-definition versions will be available in Windows Media Video HD.

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Ed Bott Brings His DRM Opinions and Issues

HDTV, MCE, DRM, and DCMA | Ed Bott offers his opinions on the DRM and content protection issues I have been discussing over the past week.  To cover Ed’s main points…


1.  It’s more of decrypting the signal that we have a problem with.  There are ways to capture a protected feeds from many of these technologies that provide copy/content protection, but unless you into watching or listening to pops, clicks, snow, etc then you want to be able to decrypt the signal.  All HDTV broadcast today is MPEG-2, and we decode MPEG-2 on our PC’s all the time (watching TV in Media Center requires decoding an MPEG-2 stream).  CableCARD is another specific example of the developers of the protection system setting the bar for what other companies must meet to being the technology into there product, I covered this a few times at eHomeUpgrade.


2.  While I didn’t cover the DMCA specifically (mainly because not enough people under it, nor do I think anyone fully understands it) I did cover Reexamining Sony v. Universal which I think might give us a better idea of what any company could get way with, without bring the DMCA as a whole into it.  The DMCA is always there, but I think that the similarities between Sony v. Universal and MGM v. Grokster would actually give the majority of people a better understand if Sony v. Universal was reexamined.  Also, the DMCA fits in with DRM as terms that make people uneasy, so I try and avoid it as much as I can (eg DRM = Content/Copy Protection)

Microsoft: If Your Xbox 360 Extender Only Plays WM….

it will fail.  The post below this one shows that Jason Dunn got a chance to play with the Xbox 360 and the Media Center Extender functions.  He is thinking that it will only support WMV playback (and DVR-MS of course).  If you are going to limit the playback formats of the Xbox 360 it will fail as the product you want it to be getting media around the house.


So, here’s what you do.  Unlike standalone Extenders we have now that use dedicated processors to decode the media, the Xbox 360 will have more then enough power to do full software decode.  Your going to need to use the Xbox Live Marketplace to allow people to purchase software decoders for third party formats.  This will solve the problem of licensing it and included it in the shipping Xbox (which raises the price).  Let the third parties develop the codec’s and sell them at there set prices.


I’ll be happy then, and so will most other people.

Jason Dunn Covers Xbox 360 & Media Center Integration

Back from the Longhorn Lab: Reporting on the Xbox 360 | “There's a software update for Windows Media Center Edition 2005 PCs coming out fairly soon, code-named "Emerald". The official name is "Roll Up 2 for Media Center Edition 2005", and it will primarily add two features: support for the Xbox 360, and support for moving from 13 up to 33 countries in terms of guide support for TV. There were rumours about Emerald incorporating support for HDTV tuners, but that doesn't seem to be the case based on what I was told.”

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Microsoft on DRM, Content Protection, and PVP-OPM

Last week I posted My Views on Microsoft, DRM, and Content Protection (PVP-OPM).  I wanted to get my personal opinion on the issue out before I had a chance to read exactly what Microsoft was thinking.  I now have my reply from Microsoft about Digital Rights Management in Windows and technologies like PVP-OPM that will appear in Windows Vista.


Microsoft: “Our fundamental goal governing our content protection efforts is to ensure that “content flows”.  This requires coordination across multiple – and intimately related - dimensions, including:


  • Content owners making their content available
  • Services delivering the content using business rules that create incentives for the content owners
  • Consumers finding content they value and that is available on reasonable terms
  • Device manufacturers supporting the technology (DRM, codecs, etc) that provides flexibility and portability - which is what makes digital content so unique and desirable for consumers

As a platform provider, we provide the technology that allows these partners to test and implement new business models and scenarios.  It remains up to “the market” to determine the equilibrium that drives any free-enterprise system.  We are thrilled to see the PC becoming more widely used as an entertainment medium, and we are committed to ensuring that new premium content flows to the PC in the future.  Next-generation DVD content is a fantastic opportunity to offer even greater value to Windows users – so obviously we’d like consumers to have the choice of viewing next-gen DVDs on their PC.  These DVDs may specify policies around how this premium content is handled (such as supporting HDCP) as it’s transmitted to the monitor.  Any device – whether it be a PC or consumer electronic device - will need to ensure compliance with the specified policies otherwise they risk being unable to access the next-gen DVD content.  Clearly we think that offering next-gen DVD content on the PC is much preferable to having the PC excluded from accessing this premium content, so we’re working on things like Protected Media Path – Output Protection Management (PVP-OPM) to ensure that Windows users have the option of enjoying content they’ve never seen on the PC before.


These policies would only apply to premium content – where piracy concerns could preclude delivering high quality digital files “in the clear” as they are transmitted to the monitor.   This would be enabled by content owners at their discretion.  It is worth noting that PVP-OPM will not impact content that is available today, and that any Longhorn PC (Vista PC) will be able to play next-gen DVD content provided it is connected to a compliant monitor.  PCs can already connect to many plasma and LCD TV displays that are already compliant, and we’ll be working closely with our PC industry partners to ensure they don’t miss out on this opportunity as well.”

Joe Kane to Showcase NVIDIA PureVideo Technology

Joe Kane to Showcase NVIDIA PureVideo Technology at the Home Entertainment 2005 Convention | NVIDIA Corporation, a worldwide leader in graphics and digital media processors, today announced that video industry expert Joe Kane will highlight NVIDIA PureVideo technology in his seminars at the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Home Entertainment 2005 convention in Las Vegas this week.


Mr. Kane will demonstrate the advantages of high-definition (HD) DVD over standard definition (SD) DVD, and will address the importance of selecting high-quality products and technologies that conform to HD standards, such as NVIDIA PureVideo technology and the Microsoft Windows Media High Definition Video (WMV HD) codec, for optimal image quality.


An Emmy nominee with more than three decades of expertise in video display engineering, production, and operations, Mr. Kane is an expert on display standards and specifications. At the VSDA convention, Mr. Kane will educate attendees on the superior storage capacity and image quality of WMV HD as well as the critical standards, specifications, and technologies he believes are required to produce the best results.


"Many people think HD is not that much better looking than SD," Mr. Kane said. "This is because they aren't implementing HD properly. When you're looking at video generated from a PC, the components you use, such as the graphics hardware, can have a significant impact on picture quality. NVIDIA PureVideo technology's strict compliance to HD video specifications is designed not only to ensure compatibility and interoperability, but also that the hardware outputs HD properly, so you see gorgeous, the-way-they-were- meant-to-be-seen images."


Read Full Press Release

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Reexamine Sony v. Universal?

Thomas Hawk:  Content Protection On An Open Platform, Why? | Thomas Hawk replied to my Content Protection On An Open Platform, How? post from last night.  I’m planning on writing some things back to Thomas, but he brought up an interesting point that I would like everyone to ponder.


“Do you think when Sony created the BetaMax that they said we must create some kind of tool to prevent people from illegally videotaping Major League Baseball? After all, if we don't the content providers might stop broadcasting baseball? Of course not. Sony said to hell with Hollywood, we are making our machine and so what if it scorches and burns their world we are going to make a hell of a lot of money selling machines.”


Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (BetaMax) was decided in 1984.  Since then, MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. has been decided.


"We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties." - Justice David Souter (MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.)


Do we need to reexamine the BetaMax case to get a clear, concise ruling on what it means now?  This would end the “Open v. Closed PC” argument that we have right now.  Opinions?

Pioneer Gets With Niveus Media For Australian Distribution

Pioneer Announces Australian Distribution of Niveus Media Centres & Storage Servers | Pioneer Electronics Australia and Niveus Media of the USA have announced an agreement for Pioneer to distribute Niveus Media Centres and Storage Servers for the Australian market.


The product line will be sold through Pioneer’s Professional A/V and Multimedia Division into the CEDIA/Custom Installation sales channels. First public display will be at the CEDIA Expo on the Gold Coast (July 28-30th) as part of the Pioneer booth.


“We’re extremely excited to be working with Pioneer Electronics,” said Tim Cutting, CEO of Niveus Media. “They have an impressive history of innovation in the home entertainment market and are the perfect go-to-market partner for Niveus in Australia.”

Niveus Media recently received an Innovations Design & Engineering award from the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for its Niveus 1TB A/V Storage Server in the Home Data Networking category.


One of the keys to the success of the Niveus Media Centres is the “fanless” Passive Cooling System. Noisy fans are one of the main objections to using PCs in a living room and the unique Niveus case design incorporating a combination of heat pipes, high performance heat sinks and thermal pads has completely eliminated the need for conventional cooling fans.


“Right from receiving our first sample we have been extremely impressed with the design, build quality and presentation of the Niveus products” said Rob Thompson, General Manager for Pioneer’s Export and Commercial Business Group. “Their support has also proved to be excellent as we customized the products for our local market. We believe that these are undoubtedly the best products of their kind on the market today.”


The Niveus Media product range includes the Denali Limited Edition Media Centre with twin High Definition tuners and up to 1TB of storage. Pioneer will also distribute the Niveus Terabyte A/V Storage Servers – the first product series to deliver high-end home theatre design into a scaleable, networked storage solution for the digital home market.


Tim Cutting, CEO of Niveus Media will attend the CEDIA Expo on the Gold Coast to gain first hand feedback and to assess the Australian market potential first hand.

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Content Protection On An Open Platform, How?

I have been going back and forth with Alexander Grundner at eHomeUpgrade about DRM Systems and Content Protection.  (What Windows Vista Means to the Open PC Platform, Joe Wilcox's "The Four Musketeers" Revisited)


Long story short, Alex doesn’t want to see Microsoft to abandon the openness of Windows that we have today to please the content owners.  My view is that Microsoft has to do what they have to do to enable us to play the content.


Assuming that no one was to upgrade to Windows Vista to enable full playback or capture of next-gen content/current-gen protect content, how would an open platform like Linux fair?  How does one enable playback on a system that is entirely open?  You really can’t build a DRM System into the OS, the source code is there for everyone, which means putting protected code in the OS is pointless.  Software protection has failed, DeCSS killed that on open platforms.  What’s left?

How would you enable an open platform to play this protected content?

Check Your E-Mail In Media Center 2005

classMCE httpMail 2005 for Hotmail v0.4 and classMCE Mail 2005 for Exchange Server 2003 SP1 v0.4 | My single complaint about this plug-in are the images used in the interface.  They have blank white space at the top and give you a bad visual onscreen.  If you look at the images on the classMCE webpage (example) you should see exactly what I mean.  Since I can’t stand that, I edited the images to give it a better look-and-feel.


classMCE Mail 2005 for Exchange Server 2003 SP1 v0.4

classMCE Mail 2005 for Exchange Server 2003 SP1: An email client for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP1 that runs in the ten foot user interface of Windows Media Center Edition 2005; includes a runtime version of classMCE 2005 SDK engine


classMCE httpMail 2005 for Hotmail v0.4

classMCE httpMail for Hotmail is a demonstration email client that communicates with Hotmail (paid subscribers) using the unpublished HTTPMAIL protocol; it is also compatible with Lycos Mail and other free HTTP Mail Servers

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MCE WebGuide For Media Center 2005!!!

WebGuide 3 | MCE WebGuide was created for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition users to provide remote Internet access to scheduling and the management of recorded programs on the Media Center Edition (MCE) PC.


MCE WebGuide features:

  • Allows you to schedule recordings of shows anytime and anywhere from a web browser.
  • Installs quickly and runs with the familiar easy-to-use MCE interface.
  • Accesses your own MCE PC which means live scheduling without delays.
  • Provides LAN-based access to recorded TV shows via networked PC's with playback in Windows Media Player.
  • An improved homepage that provides quick access to recent and upcoming recordings.
  • Improved guide listing that scrolls in-place, rather than scrolling the whole browser. This makes it very easy to get program info without having to scroll to the bottom of the page.
  • A much improved search interface. Similar to Media Center, you can now get your search results grouped by show rather than just sorted by date/time.
  • Ability to set manual recordings and adjust the settings of scheduled recordings.


Posted by chrisl | 4 comment(s)
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Microsoft Unveils Official Name for “Longhorn”

Media Alert: Microsoft Unveils Official Name for “Longhorn” and Sets Date for First Beta Targeted at Developers and IT Professionals | Company announces official name of its next-generation Windows client operating system.


Today Microsoft Corp. announced the official name of its next-generation Windows client operating system, formerly code-named “Longhorn.” Video of the name announcement can be seen via the link below.


Windows Vista Beta


Beta 1, targeted at developers and IT professionals, will be available by August 3rd 2005.

Watch the "Longhorn" naming announcement video.

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Embedded Automation Announces Commercial Release of mControl

Embedded Automation Announces Commercial Release of mControl | The mHome product line was established earlier this year in order to develop solutions that merge home automation with the Windows Media Center experience. mControl is Embedded Automation's core software application that has been designed for the Media Center platform and allows a user to take total control of their home from a TV set with a single remote control. For user convenience mControl can also be accessed over the Internet using Internet Explorer, all while maintaining mControl's full capabilities.


For existing home automation users, mControl adds the convenience, look, and feel of Media Center Edition (MCE). For those not yet involved in home automation, the starter kit provides all that is required to experience the benefits and see the potential of a total home system.


Real Full Press Release

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Official Longhorn Name is Windows Vista?

Official Longhorn Name is Windows Vista | DEF: An awareness of a range of time, events, or subjects; a broad mental view

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