Computer researcher Peter Gutmann argued at USENIX Security Symposium that the content protection features in Windows Vista are preventing people from playing high definition content on their PC and are hurting system performance.
This isn't really new information, many people have criticised Microsoft for Vista's DRM features even long before the operating system became available.
"If there was any threat modeling at all, it was really badly done," Gutmann, from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said while giving a talk on Vista content protection. "Once the enemy is the user and not the attacker, standard security thinking falls apart."
Vista requires premium content like high-definition movies to be degraded in quality when sent to high-quality outputs, so users are seeing status codes that say "graphics OPM resolution too high." Gutmann calls this "probably the most bizarre status code ever."
While Microsoft's intent is to protect commercial content, home movies are increasingly being shot in high definition, Gutmann said. Many users are finding they can't play any content if it's considered "premium."
"This is not commercial HD content being blocked, this is the users' own content," Gutmann said. "The more premium content you have, the more output is disabled."
Gutmann, who wore a white T-shirt marked with a Windows Vista logo during his presentation, first issued his criticisms several months ago with a paper titled A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection.
Gutmann's paper called Vista's content protection rules "the longest suicide note in history."