OS X and Linux: CableCARD, DIRECTV, Dish, HD DVD, Blu-ray?
Something that comes up often in my posts about different
technologies coming to Windows Vista is why are they always limited to
Windows? Well, the answer is that most
of them are just not.
Starting with CableCARD, the OpenCable Unidirectional
Receiver (OCUR) was specifically created to bring native digital cable to
PC’s. It was a mix between CableLabs and
Microsoft, I’m assuming Microsoft approached them to help build the Media
Center platform. OCUR’s are not limited
to use in Windows, however.
As is stands right now, Vista Media Center is the Home Media
Server (HMS) that CableLabs defines as certified for use with OCUR’s. Not only can additional companies outside of
ATI/AMD develop OCUR’s, but additional Operating Systems can be work. If Apple really wanted to add CableCARD
support to OS X, I’m sure they could.
They would need to work with CableLabs to ensure the content protection
framework in OS X (which is non-existent at this point, AFAIK) fits within the
already set rules and regulations that go hand and hand with CableCARD, just as
Microsoft did in Windows Vista with Protected Media Path (PMP). This is a very costly and difficult process. So difficult and costly, Apple would likely
rather you buy from the iTunes Store and call it a day.
Remember that Microsoft has been working on CableCARD
support in Windows for years now, you could see the start of things in Update
Rollup 2 (Windows XP) where OCUR entries made it into the registry.
This same process applies to anyone wanting to support
CableCARD on Linux. However, because of
the nature of Linux, I doubt you will ever see a good solution here. The solution basically ends up being
TiVo. Your happy copy of Fedora Core
isn’t going to see CableCARD support, sorry.
Since details on the DIRECTV and Dish add-ons for Media
Center haven’t been released yet, it’s hard to say if the same applies. Notable even more closed then Cable, I bet
they will keep stuff exclusive to Windows.
However again, if Apple really wanted it I’m sure they could work out
something. Linux again, not so much (in
an open form).
HD DVD and Blu-ray are basically the same deal. I’m sure Apple will end up supporting Blu-ray
Playback in OS X, they do have a nice seat on the BDA after all (yet, they have
supported burning HD DVD for over a year, nothing for BD IIRC).
Since OS X is more closed by nature, it will not be as hard
to develop a playback solution for.
Apple basically handles all of its own drivers (since it controls the
hardware), so that takes a little off of development. Since QuickTime (or whatever DVD application
they ship) really doesn’t work in a DirectShow-like fashion, they could get
Blu-ray (or HD DVD) playback gong using the same sort of protected sandbox as
InterVideo and Cyberlink do. Part of the
reason for PMP in Windows is to open up playback of this media to other
applications, notably Windows Media Player and Media Center. This way, it’s all integrated and it
flows. I hate the sight of PowerDVD
opening on top of my Media Center UI just to play back an HD DVD.
No matter how they do, they will be forced to the same
restrictions any other AACS-certified playback device/application. They will have to respect ICT, they will have
to respect HDCP (which brings up a good point, do they have any HDCP enabled
components shipping?), etc.
Apple could add support for these things if they wanted, but
Cable/Sat don’t really fit Jobs vision. iTunes
is the place to be, why waste development time to bring Cable/Sat to OS X? Blu-ray (and/or HD DVD) Playback will
eventually come to OS X and will have the same restrictions that you see in
Windows and other standalone players.
Linux is just to open of an OS to enable playback of this
protected content. For a consumer
installed machine, developers are going to have a hell of a time passing the
bar set by organizations like AACS and CableLabs. Linux will still rule in the embedded market
as it does today, the consumer based installs will be going no where fast, unless
some huge changes are made to the platform (don’t count on that, all hell will
break lose when “DRM” is part of Linux).
Update: Before someone brings up this Job’s recent Thoughts on Music
(which is great if it would happen), remember that Apple still has to respect
the content owners if they want the content.
Same with Microsoft and any other CE or IT company.