The fact that Vista is locked-down and slightly crippled thanks to DRM is relatively well known in techno-geek circles, but do consumers know what they are facing if they shell out for it? There's an article on the BBC today that mentions the forced degradation of video quality if you play your (legally purchased) content on equipment that the film studios don't want you to use. What's worse is that even if you have the right equipment, playing the content is going to cost you CPU cycles just to remove all of the DRM that has been added anyway. Extra CPU cycles means a slower computer and more electricity used, along with more global warming of course. And for what? Those who want to rip the films and distribute them on the P2P networks are going to get around this anyway, so the only people who lose-out are legitimate users.

I predict that some people will defend Microsoft and claim that it's not their fault if the film studios insist on this DRM. Well, guess again. Do you really think that the studios would release films that couldn't play on PCs and 'media centres'? It's an increasingly large segment of the market, and essential if high definition discs are going to take-off. Microsoft had a choice, but they decided to play along at a real, monetary cost to all of their users. Now of course I'm picking on Microsoft here and other software vendors might do the same, but let's face it, we're talking about the Mac and Linux as far as competitors go. Linux won't have DRM, and Apple have a good track record compared to Microsoft. There's no tax to Universal on an iPod, unlike the Zune - there's no limitation to 96kbps MP3 encoding in iTunes, unlike Windows Media. Time will tell, but it looks like Windows users will find their ability to actually use their own machines being increasingly crippled. It's time they made a stand.