Just how bloated is a Vista install?



Hi All,

something new to me so I’ll post it in the newbie forum…

Over the holiday weekend I aquired a used notebook computer
(a Dell 1525 Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz with 3gb of ram and 160gb HDD)

The previous owner partioned it (oddly

1)what the hell is an “EISA configuiration” partition? it’s only 39mb
but what purpose does it serve?

The two lettered partitions are “C” (Operating system) 131.86gb
and D (labeled) “Recovery” at 14.65Gb

But there’s also a 2.5Gb unlettered primary partition…

This is confusing to me because I want to install a larger HDD, 160gb doesn’t do it for me,so what must I clone to migrate to a 320gb drive?



AllanDeGroot ; I have Vista but I don’t have any of the unusual partitions you have on this Dell. Maybe this will explain the EISA one.You probably would never need it.
http://www.techfest.com/hardware/bus/eisa.htm#1.0: “The EISA Bus originated in 1988 & 1989. It was developed by the so called “Gang of Nine” (AST, Compaq, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy, Wyse and Zenith) as an alternative to IBM’s “patented” Micro Channel bus. It received limited use in 386 and 486 based Personal Computers through about 1995 before being obsoleted by the PCI bus as Pentium based systems were introduced.” See the above link for more info. The Micro Channel is dead as is the OS/2 operating system. Wintel (Microsoft/Intel)won; IBM lost. Unix has survived.
The recovery partition is self explanitory .I eliminated the one on my computer whan I got Acronis True Image.I never liked the Lenovo Recovery anyway. So with a good backup software you could eliminate that.
I have no idea what the 2.5 GB unlettered partition might be.Does int have any files in it ?
For Vista bloat mine with a fresh install is around 12GB which grows overtime.
If you don’t take control of the hidden SVI folder it will continue to grow in size.This is partly because it contains the system restore points if you use system restore.
The other one you can’t do much about .It may not actually be the size it reports as it is full of links & junctions to other files on your Vista. It is the winsxs folder.
Hope this helps.


Ok, like I said this Vista stuff is new to me, and there are some “neat” applications that I wouln’t want to lose going to win7 (atleast not yet)

But the full install (everything in the OS partition) ammounts to 38gb

and it seems to GROW as I systematically delete the previous owners data (Text, e-mail, audio, video, etc).
As for “recovery” I didn’t think that was actually in a seperate directory… it isn’t on any XP system or was hat one of Vista’s better ideas?
I’m prepared to continue to believe the D:\ “recovery” partition was intentionally created by whoever installed the replacement (WD-Blue) HDD in this notebook, as that data doesn’t seem to move… AND I can access and manipulate the files in that partition. (not usually the case on recovery setups)

As for the unlettered partition(s) I cannot access them, or more precisely I don’t know HOW to do so…

The thing is I want to partition my drive in a specific way to isolate my data from the OS
(I like my media files in a seperate partition so they aren’t all stirred together with the
maelstrom of fragmentation that boot drives usually become…

So what I’ve done on other notebooks is to have four partitions, a smallish one for the OS
(on my old Gateway P4 notebook there is a 20gb partition for the system, a 2gb partition for image files
(mostly jpegs) and my AV data is on another partition, which in the specific case of my
gateway is the balance of the 120gb drive or 90-some Gb.

And this odd partitioning soils my plans because they are all listed as “primary partitions” and it is my understanding that you are only allowed four “primary partitions” on a physical drive.

So how exactly do I “take control” of the “Hidden SVI folder”?


Try opening the file manager, then going to ‘c:’ -> ‘Properties’ -> 'and press the disk cleanup button. When it’s done scanning and calculating - which may be rather a long time - click the ‘More options’ tab and there should be another button to clean the system restore. Click yes to all and you may get a surprise about the disk space free.

I agree with cholla not to mess with the winsxs folder…


and it seems to GROW as I systematically delete the previous owners data (Text, e-mail, audio, video, etc). [/QUOTE]
For this I would try deleting all the System Restore points except the last one .If you intend to use System Restore. I have System Restore disabled but I have a good backup software.

As for “recovery” I didn’t think that was actually in a seperate directory… it isn’t on any XP system or was that one of Vista’s better ideas?"[/QUOTE]

In my case Lenovo installed the recovery partition on my desktop. I didn’t like their software for this so once I got the ATI software I deleted this partition & the Lenovo software for it.
I do still the Windows Backup software but I don’t use it & as far as I know it doesn’t have a partition.

I’m prepared to continue to believe the D:\ “recovery” partition was intentionally created by whoever installed the replacement (WD-Blue) HDD in this notebook, as that data doesn’t seem to move… AND I can access and manipulate the files in that partition. (not usually the case on recovery setups) [/QUOTE]
I agree with you this seems like a partition created by the former owner without backup software. So I would just keep anything I wanted from it in a different partition & delete the rest. Then delete the recovery partition.

As for the unlettered partition(s) I cannot access them, or more precisely I don’t know HOW to do so…[/QUOTE]
I really don’t know. I would be interested in how you access it.I do have a suggestion of the following software (freeware). PTEDIT32.EXE
It is a portable so you don’t have to install it. It says to use in DOS but I didn’t. It may show you the hidden partition type & be able to change it.
Once executed click on the type of the hidden partition & select “Set Type” .This will give you a list of the types. You don’t have to set a different type at this time but it should tell you the type. At least it did for me.

So how exactly do I “take control” of the “Hidden SVI folder”? [/QUOTE]
I need to write my notes again on this so Maybe someone else could understand them.
First the proper name of this folder is “System Volume Information”.
You can Unhide it with Folder Options but I bet you can’t access the files in it.At this point you should be able to check its size. You will see it get smaller once you delete the System Restore points.It has other files as well. Even on my OS the folder shows zero but when I open it there are 3 files. One is of no importance desktop.ini 1kb , The second MountPointManagerRemoteDatabase 0 kb & third a tracking.log. The last two can’t be deleted. I really haven’t tried everything to delete these files I might be able to if I did. Windows doesn’t even tell me I can’t when I select delete .It acts like it will delete the files it just doesn’t. Of course the 21kb is not really a problem.
When I first tried to access this folder I hadn’d worked with the Properties/Security of Vista & may have been able to do this easier.
These are the basics but do some reasearch.I don’t remember if I had to install ICACLS. I know i did install xcacls. One I would not install is SubInAcl. I had problems with it.
Normal Users (run commands under an administrator accout/elevated prompt):
cd\ to C:>
takeown /F “System Volume Information” /A /R /D Y (partly worked)
Icacls “System Volume Information” /grant:r Administrators:F /T /C /L
Delete everything in the SVI folder after this.If all worked well only the 3 I posted will be there.
Again Alan or anyone using the above commands do some extra reasearch on this.It has been about 3 years since I did this.
For example I don’t remember if the quotes on “System Volume Information” are necessary.

This next part isn’t necessary to take control of the SVI folder.I just wanted more control over Vista.
I actually ended up doing a complete system takeown & grant.The result of that was I had to call Microsoft & reactivate my Vista.

[QUOTE=imkidd57;2523082] I agree with cholla not to mess with the winsxs folder…[/QUOTE] I want to second that again.Leave this folder alone.
I know I followed a method for moving the winsxs to a different drive.I had nothing but problems after doing that. In the end I had to use my ATI backup to put my OS back like it was.


Re accessing unlettered partitions…

[li]Start File Manager.
[/li][li]Right click on ‘My Computer’ icon, and choose ‘Manage’.
[/li][li]Select ‘Disk Management’ and right-click on the unallocated partition in the window view. Choose ‘Change drive letter & paths’.
[/li][li]Click ‘Add…’ and it will allow a choice of available drive letters from a drop-down box.
[/li][li]Choose and click ‘OK’
[/li][li]A letter should be allocated and the partiton will appear as a drive in File Manager.


<y prefered method of system restore has always been another physical drive that is a norton ghost clone
and while keeping backups upto date costs me 40min a week per OS drive swapping in another copy
of your OS on another drive works instantly. (or atleast as fast as your computer can reboot after swapping the drive)

Why do I prefer swapping drives? simple, because each time I’ve had a system crash "system restore"
has FAILED to restore the system, so frankly if I could turn it off and save disc space I would.

And BTW “file manager”? drive properties were in "Device manager"
and running cleanup on both the OS and the “system restore” knocked the OS partition
down to a far less bloated 22.6Gb (it was 41gb when I started)

Doing the same thing to the D: “restore” partition knocked it from 9.4gb to 5.1gb

The Previous owner had a lot of games and their LARGE associated data files, but each time
I clicked an icon and it asked me for a disc I removed the program.

It seems that with each deleted game I created yet another restore point because in the midst of my
program by program deletion the used space went from 33gb to 41gb. (EEK!!!)

that was way out of control…

And the “Restore” partition IS a “backup”, it’s a clean (no applications)backup copy of the original OS installation and those files date to a month after the production date of the HDD (when the computer itself was about 9months old) I presume the original hitachi HDD failed and this 160gb WD is the replacement.

Anyway, I’m going to borrow a virgin drive from a friend, clone my drive to it and then start deleting
partitions off the clone to see what happens…

at some future date this 160gb drive will become the backup “System restore” point

Because I want a larger HDD, a 320gb Scorpio black with the Free fall detector sounds right…
and because I think a “Backup” on the same physical HDD is just about as useless as no backup at all.

while this discussion is far from dead my main issue is resolved, THANKS!

I’ll let you know what I find after I clone.



so frankly if I could turn it off and save disc space I would.

So turn it off, really simple : http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/disable-system-restore-in-windows-vista/



Over the holiday weekend I aquired a used notebook computer
(a Dell 1525 Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz with 3gb of ram and 160gb HDD)

The previous owner partioned it (oddly [/quote]No. Dell factory partitioning.

1)what the hell is an “EISA configuiration” partition? it’s only 39mb
but what purpose does it serve?
Dell Diagnostics. Checks your hardware which is useful if you want to have something fixed while under warranty.

The two lettered partitions are “C” (Operating system) 131.86gb
and D (labeled) “Recovery” at 14.65Gb

This is self-explanatory :wink: Normally, the Recovery Partition should be hidden also :confused:

But there’s also a 2.5Gb unlettered primary partition…
Possibly Dell “Media Direct” partition. You should be able to start it using a certain key pressed. I strongly suggest to get the manual from Dell support website.

This is confusing to me because I want to install a larger HDD, 160gb doesn’t do it for me,so what must I clone to migrate to a 320gb drive?

You don’t need the Diagnostics Partition, since Dell Diagnostics also runs off a bootable CD or USB stick. The tool to create such a device is available on Dell Website.

The Media Direct Stuff might be of limited use also, so I would do this:
Create Recovery discs, then install your new drive and install from scratch using the Recovery Discs. The old HDD goes into your drawer.



Some Dell notebook computers include a special Dell MediaDirect feature. MediaDirect enables you to watch DVD movies, slideshows, or listen to music without having to boot the complete XP operating system.

MediaDirect is installed in a special partition on the hard disk, but is hidden so you cannot see it when XP is booted normally. When the computer is off, pressing the MediaDirect button will boot the MediaDirect partition instead of XP.

Beware: HPA Problems When Upgrading Hard Disk

Some people will eventually want to upgrade their hard disk to a new disk with larger capacity. Users should be warned about a unique problem that may occur in certain circumstances. If you try to replace your hard disk with a larger disk, if you try to clone the contents of your original disk to the new disk, and if your original disk contains HPA-based MediaDirect, then you may discover your new disk’s capacity becomes truncated to the size of the original disk.

For example, say you wish to replace your 60 GB disk with a new 120 GB disk. To avoid reinstalling everything, you decide to use something like Acronis True Image or Symantec Ghost to clone the contents of the 60 GB disk to the 120 GB disk. When you try to boot the new disk, however, it blue-screens or fails to boot, and a check of the BIOS settings shows the BIOS thinks your new disk is around the same size as the old disk! No amount of recloning, reformatting, repartitioning, or rejumpering will get the BIOS to recognize the full size of the disk


Glad you got it sorted. Turning off System Restore as bean55 posted a how to link for would have done the same thing.
In my first post I suggested System Restore as the culprit. Since I also have found System Restore a non working peice of MS junk.I always disable it.
I don’t clone to another drive like you do for backup but that seems like a foolproof method. I just do a no compression backup to an external HDD. This is a backup of the MBR & all data on the drive but not the unused space. ATI will do a sector by sector backup which does the empty space too. If I used it that way I would end up with a 256GB backup file. The no compression backup I use creates approx a 22 GB backup file the average size I operate my Vista OS with. That is with all the software I have installed.
That leaves plenty of room to work with a movie.
One thing you might want to do also is set " Volume Shadow Copy " in Services to "Manual “.
Then copy & paste this into an Administrator command prompt.
First cd\ it to a C:&gt; .
then paste this without the quotes:
” vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /Maxsize=300MB "

If you want to just check the space used by Volume Shadow Copies paste this:
vssadmin List ShadowStorage


This is a two year old Dell notebook.

It doesn’t have XP, it is factory Vista.

The HDD isn’t original, the prooduction date on the HDD is more than a year more recent than the the one on the notebook, but I didn’t do it

It DOES have Dell diagnostics AND ":Media Direct on it.

It is NOT under warrantee (I literally garbage picked this notebook.
it belonged to a temporary (rental) neighbor that moved away and
the property owner put the computer (along with other stuff)
on the curb.

I DO want a larger HDD and though I really wanted a WD 7200rpm “black” drive I have a 320gb WD blue still sealed in it’s factory antistatic bag.

If I need to reinstall AN operating system…

Let me rephrase… I’m not married to the Vista Home basic it has on it,
and while I don’t have the restore/reinstall discs I can pick up everything I need off ebay for $30 and get Win7 HomePremium in the bargain

I’ll miss the Roxio DE and PowerDVD that is already on the notebook,
but I can replace those by buying the appropriate Dell re-install disc
on eBay for another $8-12(shipped)

media direct really doesn’t do anything for me so long as the notebook will play a DVD
(turning the laptop into an overly expensive DVD player)

I’ll just want the system install to leave me a large (unallocated) partition on the drive that I can use for my AV data.

Because my audio data doesn’t get fragmented the way an OS drive does and having it on the OS partition makes defragging a long and annoying process every damned time…

In the bargain of reinstalling AN operating system to “migrate” to a larger drive I’ll finally (once and for all!) get rid of all the user account references to the previous owner (the undeletable files for HIS social networking stuff and FINALLY get rid of the spanish language preferences (that keep “rubber-banding” back no matter how many times I turn them off).

System setup is tedious, but not particularly challenging.
I get to set up 2-3 computers a week and adding my own
to be setup doesn’t add that much to my workload…

As for Vista itself? I’ve only had this notebook for a week and don’t understand what the
big deal is about vista… it works, and while visual appearance is a bit different from the XP I’m used to and some things are located differently it doesn’t seem all that different…

Is “the big deal” about Vista that people were trying to run it on computers that
weren’t up to the task?

I know running XP on a 500MHz P-III can try the patience of a saint… is Vista on a P4 more of the same?

Vista on a 2GHz Core2Duo seems fast enough…



Ctrl F11 will get you to the recovery partition and put it back to factory stats.


I’d do win 7 myself, it’s a better version of vista and runs great on older machine with limited memory and resources.
I have 7 ultimate and am loving it after using XP forever, almost everything I used before or still have works fine and it has drivers built in for almost everything you’d have.
You can run the upgrade adviser before you do it and it will probably tell you if anything is not supported.


@AllanDeGroot ,Vista Home Premium & I work pretyy well together. I most likely will keep using it for a while.
I’ve spent a good deal of time tweaking . The end result has been Vista stopped growing ever larger & it doesn’t ask me continually if I have permission to do things.As a matter of fact it seldom does.
I actually ran an OS with Windows ME with few of the problems most users of it had .The same thing it took a while to tweak to perform the way I wanted. In the end it still did not work as well as Windows 98 with some files & updates for Windows ME in it. The hybrid 98/ME still works well on the old IBM with a Pentium 3, 450 mhz CPU ,13.5 GB HDD & 768MB RAM. The same computer has Windows XP Pro on a seperate 80GB HDD & it also runs well. It can be slow on some functions but overall does what I want it to.

You might want to take a look at this about Vista:

Unnecessary CPU Resource Consumption 

“Since [encryption] uses CPU cycles, an OEM may have to bump the speed grade on the CPU to maintain equivalent multimedia performance. This cost is passed on to purchasers of multimedia PCs” — ATI.
In order to prevent tampering with in-system communications, all communication flows have to be encrypted and/or authenticated. For example content sent to video devices has to be encrypted with AES-128. This requirement for cryptography extends beyond basic content encryption to encompass not just data flowing over various buses but also command and control data flowing between software components. For example communications between user-mode and kernel-mode components are authenticated with OMAC message authentication-code tags, at considerable cost to both ends of the connection. The initial crypto handshake is:

driver -> application: cert + nonce
application -> driver: RSA-OAEP-SHA512( nonce || key || seqNo1 || seqNo2 )
In this step the driver supplies its certificate to the calling application via DxgkDdiOPMGetCertificate() and a 128-bit nonce via DxgkDdiOPMGetRandomNumber(). This is either a COPP or an OPM certificate, with COPP being the older Windows XP content protection and OPM being the newer Windows Vista one. There’s also a third type of fleur-de-lis certificate that the driver uses if it has a UAB (User-Accessible Bus). The certificates contain a 2048-bit RSA key which is used to encrypt a 40-byte payload containing the nonce provided by the driver, a 128-bit session key, and two 32-bit initial sequence numbers (they start at random values), the first number is for status messages via DxgkDdiOPMGetInformation() and the second for command messages via DxgkDdiOPMConfigureProtectedOutput().

Once the keys are set up, each function call is:

in = OMAC( nonce || seqNo || data )
out = OMAC( nonce || seqNo || data )
(I’ve used conventional bits-on-the-wire notation for this, the values are actually fields in a structure so for example the sequence number is provided in the ulSequenceNumber member). This is very similar to the protocol used in SSL or SSH (in practice some steps like cipher suite negotiation are omitted, since there’s a hardcoded set of ciphers used). Finding SSL being run inside a PC from one software module to another is just weird.

Needless to say, this extremely CPU-intensive mechanism is a very painful way to provide protection for content, and this fact has been known for many years. Twenty years ago, in their work on the ABYSS security module, IBM researchers concluded that the use of encrypted buses as a protection mechanism was impractical.

In order to prevent active attacks, device drivers are required to poll the underlying hardware every 30ms for digital outputs and every 150 ms for analog ones to ensure that everything appears kosher. This means that even with nothing else happening in the system, a mass of assorted drivers has to wake up thirty times a second just to ensure that… nothing continues to happen (commenting on this mechanism, Leo Laporte in his Security Now podcast with Steve Gibson calls Vista “an operating system that is insanely paranoid”). In addition to this polling, further device-specific polling is also done, for example Vista polls video devices on each video frame displayed in order to check that all of the grenade pins (tilt bits) are still as they should be. We already have multiple reports from Vista reviewers of playback problems with video and audio content, with video frames dropped and audio stuttering even on high-end systems [Note I]. Time will tell whether this problem is due to immature drivers or has been caused by the overhead imposed by Vista’s content protection mechanisms interfering with playback.

An indication of the level of complexity added to the software can be seen by looking at a block diagram of Vista’s Media Interoperability Gateway (MIG). Of the eleven components that make up the MIG, only two (the audio and video decoders) are actually used to render content. The remaining nine are used to apply content-protection measures.

Even more radical approaches to content protection can be found in Microsoft research papers, which indicate areas that Microsoft are looking at for future work. For example the ASPLOS X paper Enabling Trusted Software Integrity proposes a system whereby content-playback mechanisms are protected by adding encrypted constraints into each basic instruction block that prevent the code from acting in anything other than an extremely constrained way. This goes beyond simple code signing in that each basic code block contains a cryptographic hash that special hardware (around 20K gates on a simple RISC CPU, but far more for a more complex x86 one) added to the processor’s instruction unit recalculates on the fly for each basic block of code before it’s executed to ensure that nothing other than the originally authorised instruction flow is executed. The content-playback software is node-locked to a CPU on install, a special process that involves the processor running in single-user mode with virtual memory, context switches, and all interrupts disabled (this special operation mode is only required for the initial install step, not during normal playback). With various optimisations applied, typical content-processing operations like MPEG and JPEG encode or decode take a 10-20% performance hit.

On-board graphics create an additional problem because blocks of precious content will end up stored in system memory, from where they could be paged out to disk. In order to avoid this, Vista tags such pages with a special protection bit indicating that they need to be encrypted before being paged out and decrypted again after being paged in. Vista doesn’t provide any other pagefile encryption, and will quite happily page banking PINs, credit card details, private, personal data, and other sensitive information, in plaintext. The content-protection requirements make it fairly clear that in Microsoft’s eyes a frame of premium content is worth more than (say) a user’s medical records or their banking PIN [Note J].

In fact, Microsoft is imposing a higher standard of security for premium content than what’s been required in the past for any known secure computing initiative proposed for protecting data classified at TOP SECRET or TS/SCI levels (the closest that anything came to what’s required in Vista was the LOCK kernel with SIDEARM and BED coprocessors (PDF link), which didn’t go as far as the Vista requirements and after 17 years of development effort was a commercial failure to boot). Just to make this point clear, the level of security that Vista is trying to achieve to protect video and audio is more extreme than anything the US government has ever considered necessary for protecting its most sensitive classified data.

In addition to the CPU costs, the desire to render data inaccessible at any level means that video decompression can’t be done in the CPU any more, since there isn’t sufficient CPU power available to both decompress the video and encrypt the resulting uncompressed data stream to the video card. As a result, much of the decompression has to be integrated into the graphics chip. At a minimum this includes IDCT, MPEG motion compensation, and the Windows Media VC-1 codec (which is also DCT-based, so support via an IDCT core is fairly easy). As a corollary to the Increased Hardware Costs problem above, this means that you can’t ship a low-end graphics chip without video codec support any more.

The inability to perform decoding in software also means that any premium-content compression scheme not supported by the graphics hardware can’t be implemented. If things like the Ogg video codec ever eventuate and get used for premium content, they had better be done using something like Windows Media VC-1 or they’ll be a non-starter under Vista or Vista-approved hardware. This is particularly troubling for the high-quality digital cinema (D-Cinema) specification, which uses Motion JPEG2000 (MJ2K) because standard MPEG and equivalents don’t provide sufficient image quality. Since JPEG2000 uses wavelet-based compression rather than MPEG’s DCT-based compression, and wavelet-based compression isn’t on the hardware codec list, it’s not possible to play back D-Cinema premium content (the moribund Ogg Tarkin codec also used wavelet-based compression). Because all D-Cinema content will (presumably) be premium content, the result is no playback at all until the hardware support appears in PCs at some indeterminate point in the future. Compare this to the situation with MPEG video, where early software codecs like the XingMPEG en/decoder practically created the market for PC video. Today, thanks to Vista’s content protection, the opening up of new markets in this manner would be impossible.

This extra overhead carries a heavy cost for the typical user. It’s not uncommon to find PCs so infested with malware (spyware, viruses, trojans, bots, and so on) that they can barely perform their normal tasks, let alone handle the overhead of content protection (depending on whose surveys you believe, the typical Internet-connected PC averages 20-30 pieces of malware). Despite the fact that, on paper, they may have plenty of system resources to throw around for content protection, in practice the overhead of hosting an entire zoo of malware means that any added overhead due to content protection renders them more or less unusable for content playback (while users don’t seem to mind waiting around for their botnet-hosting PC to open a Word document, they’ll be less happy when it drops frames or produces stuttering audio output).

Looking at this from the point of view of the high-end rather than the average user, the problem is rather different. The high-end graphics and audio market are dominated entirely by gamers, who will do anything to gain the tiniest bit of extra performance, like buying Bigfoot Networks’ $250 “Killer NIC” ethernet card in the hope that it’ll help reduce their network latency by a few milliseconds. These are people buying $500-$1000 graphics and sound cards for which one single sale brings the device vendors more than the few cents they get from the video/audio portion of an entire roomful of integrated-graphics-and-sound PCs. I wonder how this market segment will react to knowing that their top-of-the-line hardware is being hamstrung by all of the content-protection “features” that Vista hogties it with?

February 12, 2007
DRM in Windows Vista
Windows Vista includes an array of “features” that you don’t want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They’ll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won’t do anything useful. In fact, they’re working against you. They’re digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.

And you don’t get to refuse them.

The details are pretty geeky, but basically Microsoft has reworked a lot of the core operating system to add copy protection technology for new media formats like HD DVD and Blu-ray disks. Certain high-quality output paths – audio and video – are reserved for protected peripheral devices. Sometimes output quality is artificially degraded; sometimes output is prevented entirely. And Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you’re doing something that it thinks you shouldn’t. If it does, it limits functionality and in extreme cases restarts just the video subsystem. We still don’t know the exact details of all this, and how far-reaching it is, but it doesn’t look good.

Microsoft put all those functionality-crippling features into Vista because it wants to own the entertainment industry. This isn’t how Microsoft spins it, of course. It maintains that it has no choice, that it’s Hollywood that is demanding DRM in Windows in order to allow “premium content” – meaning, new movies that are still earning revenue – onto your computer. If Microsoft didn’t play along, it’d be relegated to second-class status as Hollywood pulled its support for the platform.

It’s all complete nonsense. Microsoft could have easily told the entertainment industry that it was not going to deliberately cripple its operating system, take it or leave it. With 95% of the operating system market, where else would Hollywood go? Sure, Big Media has been pushing DRM, but recently some – Sony after their 2005 debacle and now EMI Group – are having second thoughts.

What the entertainment companies are finally realizing is that DRM doesn’t work, and just annoys their customers. Like every other DRM system ever invented, Microsoft’s won’t keep the professional pirates from making copies of whatever they want. The DRM security in Vista was broken the day it was released. Sure, Microsoft will patch it, but the patched system will get broken as well. It’s an arms race, and the defenders can’t possibly win.

I believe that Microsoft knows this and also knows that it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about stopping pirates and the small percentage of people who download free movies from the Internet. This isn’t even about Microsoft satisfying its Hollywood customers at the expense of those of us paying for the privilege of using Vista. This is about the overwhelming majority of honest users and who owns the distribution channels to them. And while it may have started as a partnership, in the end Microsoft is going to end up locking the movie companies into selling content in its proprietary formats.

We saw this trick before; Apple pulled it on the recording industry. First iTunes worked in partnership with the major record labels to distribute content, but soon Warner Music’s CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. found that he wasn’t able to dictate a pricing model to Steve Jobs. The same thing will happen here; after Vista is firmly entrenched in the marketplace, Sony’s Howard Stringer won’t be able to dictate pricing or terms to Bill Gates. This is a war for 21st-century movie distribution and, when the dust settles, Hollywood won’t know what hit them.

To be fair, just last week Steve Jobs publicly came out against DRM for music. It’s a reasonable business position, now that Apple controls the online music distribution market. But Jobs never mentioned movies, and he is the largest single shareholder in Disney. Talk is cheap. The real question is would he actually allow iTunes Music Store purchases to play on Microsoft or Sony players, or is this just a clever way of deflecting blame to the – already hated – music labels.

Microsoft is reaching for a much bigger prize than Apple: not just Hollywood, but also peripheral hardware vendors. Vista’s DRM will require driver developers to comply with all kinds of rules and be certified; otherwise, they won’t work. And Microsoft talks about expanding this to independent software vendors as well. It’s another war for control of the computer market.

Unfortunately, we users are caught in the crossfire. We are not only stuck with DRM systems that interfere with our legitimate fair-use rights for the content we buy, we’re stuck with DRM systems that interfere with all of our computer use – even the uses that have nothing to do with copyright.

I don’t see the market righting this wrong, because Microsoft’s monopoly position gives it much more power than we consumers can hope to have. It might not be as obvious as Microsoft using its operating system monopoly to kill Netscape and own the browser market, but it’s really no different. Microsoft’s entertainment market grab might further entrench its monopoly position, but it will cause serious damage to both the computer and entertainment industries. DRM is bad, both for consumers and for the entertainment industry: something the entertainment industry is just starting to realize, but Microsoft is still fighting. Some researchers think that this is the final straw that will drive Windows users to the competition, but I think the courts are necessary.

In the meantime, the only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade to Vista. It will be hard. Microsoft’s bundling deals with computer manufacturers mean that it will be increasingly hard not to get the new operating system with new computers. And Microsoft has some pretty deep pockets and can wait us all out if it wants to. Yes, some people will shift to Macintosh and some fewer number to Linux, but most of us are stuck on Windows. Still, if enough customers say no to Vista, the company might actually listen.

This essay originally appeared on Forbes.com.


The HDD isn’t original, the prooduction date on the HDD is more than a year more recent than the the one on the notebook, but I didn’t do it[7quote]Perhaps it hass been replaced under warranty. Who knows.

If I need to reinstall AN operating system…

Let me rephrase… I’m not married to the Vista Home basic it has on it,
and while I don’t have the restore/reinstall discs I can pick up everything I need off ebay for $30 and get Win7 HomePremium in the bargain
So either see if you can create a set of recovery discs that allows you to reinstall the system on your new disc or get something else that fits your needs. Simply a matter of taste and personal preference.

I’ll miss the Roxio DE and PowerDVD that is already on the notebook,
but I can replace those by buying the appropriate Dell re-install disc
on eBay for another $8-12(shipped)

You need to create an account, if I remember correctly.

As for the Power DVD: I am not sure if that software came preinstalled or from other sources. Normally, the MPEG2 (from Cyberlink) decoder came with MediaDirect.



I bought the Dell Restore/reinstallation discs to put Win7-Home Premium on it as well as the discs with PowerDVD and Roxio-DE 10.3

I will NOT install media direct or Dell’s diagnostic stuff, I prefer having an OS/setup/applications
that I can create backup clones to my heart’s content… or Master Card limit on new HDD’s from Newegg.

It is my personal belief that if I can get a computer to “POST” I can fix it,
If I cannot get it to POST all I’m doing is the IT equivelent of performing
major cosmetic surgery on a corpse, because no diagnostic software ever created
will work on a computer that won’t even boot to the DOS setup screen

Reinstalling an OS “clean” also lets me eliminate every trace f the previous owner
and his language preferences.