Vista Signed Drivers: Good or Bad Social Move?


Yesterday brought the news of Windows Vista requiring, here's some jargon:

"Vista driver developers must obtain a Publisher Identity Certificate (PIC) from Microsoft. Microsoft says they won't charge for it, but they require that you have a Class 3 Commercial Software Publisher Certificate from Verisign. This costs $500 per year, and as the name implies, is only available to commercial entities."

How is this a bad social move? Well, there are several factors that play into this both from the standpoint of rights you have to run software of your choice on your PC/OS but also from the PR point that makes this look very disheartening towards the x64 archtecture. Lets look at them one by one. Social Problem When you purchase a computer should you be allowed to make a decision on whether or not you trust a piece of software to work on your PC and OS? Microsoft does not think so. There are far too many security implications which make this move more than valid but it effectively eliminates the ability for open source developers (read: kids playing around with software development at home) to publish software. The trouble for Microsoft is two fold now: it looks bad for discouraging young people from developing software for the Microsoft platform and it deals a blow to the open source movement which is thriving even for the Windows world. This is not a short-term bad move that you're accustomed to, this is a long term move of further encouraging software developers to seek more open platforms. Windows will be more secure though. Valid tradeoff? Business Problem Microsoft, right after Intel, should be blamed the most for the lack of 64bit adoption. They sided with Intel Itanium (or Itanic) chip on the server and nobody showed up. Same was done with the 64bit Windows XP but AMD X64 effectively cornered that market with cheaper, cooler and more powerful chips. But I challenge you to find people that are happy with Windows XP 64bit or that have had a positive experience. You will not find many. So what do we have here, enforcement and restriction of development on the 64bit platform while the 32bit one is free to roam. Is this a good business move for the platform that you are trying to encourage everyone to upgrade to? Certainly not. So what we have here is a tradeoff between security and rights of use, public relations confusion over whether to upgrade to X64 now or never. I have to admit, it bothers me, but I'll be fine with X64 and signed drivers. There will always be a way to pirate stuff even with the DRM junk. No more dealnews hardware though 🙂

6 Responses to Vista Signed Drivers: Good or Bad Social Move?

Comments are closed.