Working with Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm, Microsoft plans to limit pirated movies by creating a new hardware-based DRM technology called PlayReady 3.0. The promise: Buy a computer with Windows 10 and PlayReady, and you’ll be able to watch 4K movies. But for those of you on older Windows machines, you’ll be limited to lower-quality movies.
Hollywood has long had a problem with piracy, even if those that work in the movie industry tend to use pirated movies themselves on occasion. Older PCs use software-based DRM in order to limit pirates. With the release of Windows 10, hardware-based DRM will be the norm, and will be much harder to circumvent. PlayReady will know who you are and what kind of rights your PC will have, so you won’t be able to unlock video content.
Microsoft is staying tight-lipped when it comes to how the technology works. A Microsoft spokeswoman told PCWorld, “PlayReady content keys and the unencrypted compressed and uncompressed video samples are never available outside of the devices Trusted Extension Environment (TEE).”
At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Shenzhen, China last month, Microsoft stopped recording the conference just before PlayReady was being talked about. However, some things that have been revealed are:
- Battery life shouldn’t be affected by hardware DRM
- Content protection will pass through the GPU
- PlayReady 3.0 will support mirroring movies from your laptop to a Miracast TV dongle
The main reason why older Windows PCs won’t be able to play legal 4K movies is because the previous software DRM only supports videos up to 1080p resolution. PlayReady was specifically created to let both Windows and non-Windows machines to play movies. People with Windows 7 or Windows 8 who upgrade to Windows 10 will still be able to rent, buy or stream movies, just not 4K or UHD quality video.
Glenn Hower, a research analyst for Parks Associates, says, “Microsoft appears to be future-proofing, evidenced by their proposed support for 8K video. As long as the burden is not terribly substantial beyond supporting 4K, and as long as their technology can adapt to handle high dynamic range and upgrades in color gamut support for ultra HD, I think they are playing smart.”