[Beowulf] Sidebar: Vista Rant

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jul 18 10:05:30 PDT 2007

At 08:37 AM 7/18/2007, Robert G. Brown wrote:
>On Wed, 18 Jul 2007, Chris Samuel wrote:
>Actually, a link on this site:
>   http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html
>is like scarier than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, version 1.  Should be
>mandatory reading for all humans.  It completely explains the slowdown
>-- Microsoft has installed what amounts to a content-controlled censor
>daemon.  In fact, a whole set of the daemons.  They all run, all of the
>time, doing really complicated things.  Their purpose -- to shut off
>all access to content except through a rigorously controlled chain of

As previously mentioned, the *real money* is not in selling hardware 
(someone can always build it for the same price you can), nor in OS 
software (someone can get another OS cheaper).  It's in entertainment 
content. MS may be making tons o'bucks, but compared to the movie 
studios, the music industry, and cable tv, etc, it's still small.

If you can figure out a way to deliver that content in a way that
a) keeps the content owner happy, as far as preventing illicit redistribution
b) provides a means to monetize the transaction

you will make a lot of money in the next few years.

So, what does Vista provide?
both (a) and (b)

(MS revenue, 2006, $44B.. net income $13B)

The average person spends roughly 3700 hours per year consuming 
enetertainment, of which more than 3500 are some form of audio or 
video (i.e. not reading)

Going to the theater and seeing a movie is a very tiny fraction of 
this (on average), but still accounts for about $10B per year in the 
US, and perhaps $25B world wide (2004 numbers) and this does not 
include "adult" entertainment.

If you sum the revenues from the top 10 entertainment companies , 
it's well over $140B.

Consider this.. Netflix is a $1B company and the service they provide 
is basically mailing DVDs back and forth.  Say it costs $1 for them 
to make a transaction (mailing and handling costs) over and above the 
costs of acquiring the DVDs.  Now, say, they have a way of 
transporting the same information without having to pay postage (i.e. 
via someone's internet connection, which netflix doesn't pay 
for)..  That helps Netflix's bottom line a lot, even if they have to 
pay some "per use" fee for the privilege of using this secure 
distribution medium (i.e. Vista)  (note that Netflix sends out about 
1M DVDs every day)

The real issue is setting the price..
MS to content owner: How much are you willing to pay us for our 
secure distribution channel?
Content owner to MS: How much are you willing to pay *us* for access 
to our content so people will buy your channel?

So what if the Vista computer is dog slow.. as long as it plays that 
video without hiccups, nobody will care.  The Vista computer is just 
like a VCR.

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875 

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