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1984 cometh to a PC near you

Hear that sound? It’s the sound of a million sabres being unsheathed in preparation for some serious rattling in response to the emerging details of Microsoft and Intel’s attempts to control the use of the PC platform.

The new Palladium initiative from Microsoft and the associated Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA) program from Intel aim to install encryption chips and software into every computer to ensure that only trusted software and hardware will be able to be used in the future.

This means that open source software, products like the Mac and other ‘non-compliant’ hardware will not be able to work properly unless they conform to the new standards. It also apparently threatens the future of the TCP/IP protocol – the heart of the Internet itself.

One of the most contentious aspects of all this is that the control will be exerted from a set of central servers controlled by these two megacorps, which has led to the term Win84 being adopted for the software component, which will be a future version of Windows. The hardware control portion is apparently eventually destined to end up embedded inside Intel processor chips.

Anyway here’s a selection of sites/articles covering the issue – required reading if you are concerned at all about having your computing controlled by faceless corporations sometime in the near future.

* Extreme Tech’s in-depth analysis of Palladium – A great place to start.
* Ross Anderson’s TCPA FAQ – an excellent read.
* Bob Cringely’s view point – a veteran commentator who is often very accurate.
* Pat Gelsinger (Intel VP & CTO) on why Intel needs to implement the TCPA – the view from the giant horse’s mouth.
* The Register’s John Lettice on Win84 (aka Palladium) – another industry veteran reporting on the subject.
* The Register’s Thomas Greene on how these moves could eradicate Linux and the GPL – a scary view of an IT world where Microsoft becomes even more dominant.

And in case you think it will never happen, just remember that the new Windows XP activation system is actually the first step in centrally controlling the installation of software on the PC.

Update: Here’s a remarkably balanced Salon article, looking at both sides of the Palladium argument in more detail.

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