Last month, I wrote about the FUD surrounding Windows Vista and DRM. The FUDmaster is Peter Gutmann, a New Zealand researcher who wrote a paper last December that made a series of outrageous and inflammatory claims about Windows Vista. Since then, Gutmann has expanded the paper to more than four times its original size. The current version available on Gutmann’s website clocks in at more than 26,000 words, making it longer than some recent works of fiction.
And length isn’t the only thing Gutmann’s paper has in common with the average pulp novel. Gutmann’s work is riddled with factual errors, mistaken assumptions and unproven assertions, distortions, contradictions, misquotes, and outright untruths. In short, it’s a work of fiction all on its own.
Gutmann is a clever writer, and he’s able to string together nouns, verbs, technical terms,and acronyms in ways that sound persuasive. In this three-part series (look for Parts 2 and 3 later this week), I’m going to dig deep into Gutmann’s work and show you just where he got it wrong.
I’ve been working on this story for months. Part of the problem is that Gutmann’s paper is a rambling, sloppy, disorganized mess, and nine months of additions have made it even more difficult to pick out the serious arguments from the scare stories and snark. Gutmann’s favorite technique is to string together anecdotes he’s plucked from magazines and websites, juxtapose those stories with sentences from presentations by Microsoft engineers and developers, and then speculate on the implications, often with wildly incorrect results. And worst of all, Gutmann appears to believe everything he reads—as long as he can fit it into his anti-Microsoft world view.
The other part of the problem is Gutmann’s lack of hands-on experience with modern consumer electronics gear and with Windows Vista itself, which shows in nearly every sentence he writes. I’ve done extensive hands-on testing and have personally seen Vista do things that Gutmann says are impossible. Rather than write 26,000 words of my own, I’m going to pick out more than a dozen substantive errors in Gutmann’s piece and explain why they’re wrong.
Peter is a "Professional Paranoid" as he describes himself on his page. You can read Peter's paper "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" on-line for more information on his theories.
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