Friday, August 11, 2006

IP Scholars conference, technology

Wendy Seltzer, The Fictional Physics of “Technological Protection.” Seltzer challenges the view of TPMs as just speed bumps keeping honest users honest. They create substantial difficulties with open source software.

Susan Crawford: What do you want to happen? Answer: Lawmakers should take note – rolling back the DMCA would allow a better equilibrium between TPMs and those who want to build interoperable systems.

Isn’t the content industry just going to say that’s exactly the kind of innovation we want to stop? The open source developer is just not a popular enough figure to change the debate, either in Hollywood or in Congress.

Andrew Chin, Software Licensing and Market Power in the Age of the Virtualized Computer. The third installment of Chin’s Microsoft trilogy. The uses of virtualized machines: they can run different OSes, including legacy applications; you can train people without worrying about them crashing the system; you can make full backup copies; you can monitor system activity at the meta level. Virtualization is the killer app for ever-faster processing power!

VMWare, analogous to Netscape, was the startup in the virtual machine space, dominating early on. Microsoft has a VM product and a plan to promote it as a service pack update. It’s cleverly designed to be Windows-dependent and work with Windows Server, full rollout scheduled for 2009. It will control what runs and how it runs, even if you have Linux or something else on top.

Given that virtualization allows servers to host both Windows and non-Windows VMs and consumers can switch from Windows to non-Windows applications, to blunt that threat, Microsoft needs to control virtualization on (almost all) servers that host Windows VMs.

Antitrust analysis will be very important. What kind of product is this? Is the combination a new product, an integrated product, or something else?

Question (if I understood it properly): but isn’t the beauty of virtualization that you can get anything on top of Windows, so it doesn’t matter what’s below? Answer: They may make it hard for you to run Windows as anything but the host. Question: But maybe Microsoft can still benefit from non-Windows hosts. Answer: But they are trying to dominate the space of machines that have Windows servers as the host, driving out other VM products.

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