Microsoft to remove Sony copy protection malware

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Tom Keating
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Microsoft to remove Sony copy protection malware

Microsoft said it would remove controversial copy-protection software that CDs from music publisher Sony BMG install on personal computers, deeming it a security risk to PCs running on Windows. This is but another salvo shot fired between Microsoft and Sony. Not that I'm a fan of Sony's copy-protection scheme, but I think there is much more to this story than Microsoft trying to help remove the Sony malware (form of spyware) from their PCs. With the impending launch of Microsoft XBox 360 which is the arch-rival of the Sony Playstation, Microsoft has Sony squarely in its sights.

The XCP program, developed by First4Internet in Britain and used on music CDs by Sony BMG to restrict copying and sharing, has generated concern amongst computer users, because it acts like virus software and hides deep inside a computer where it leaves the backdoor open for other viruses.

"We have analyzed this software and have determined that in order to help protect our customers, we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP software to the Windows AntiSpyware beta, which is currently used by millions of users," Jason Garms, group program manager of the Anti-Malware Technology Team, said on Microsoft's Technet blog.

The original XBox was running a modified version of the Windows 2000 kernel. I'm not sure the operating system on the XBox 360, but as gaming consoles become more like PCs with more PC-type functionality, Microsoft has a decidely more competitive edge over Sony in providing integration between it's Windows XP (& Vista) operating systems and its current and future gaming platforms.

So to hear Microsoft removing a Sony technology doesn't bode well for Sony's future. Could this mean Microsoft could "disable" some sort of future Playstation integration with a PC? Maybe even under the guise of the Sony Playstation not providing adequate security or DRM protection. It's probably unlikely since Sony has the capital to file an anti-trust lawsuit, but the damage may have already be done. Microsoft isn't above risking some lawsuits to capture marketshare and then "paying out" later. Just look at Netscape.

The XBox 360 is the hottest buzzword on the Internet right now. The XBox launch is 7 days from now, but for the past week or so, all I have been hearing is about the Sony copy-protection scheme. This may be just conspiracy talk, but is all this talk about Sony's copy-protection malware a brilliant scheme by Sony to distract attention away from the XBox launch? Sorry, but I'm afraid it's too little too late. Sony should have launched the Playstation 3 before the all-important Christmas season when consoles are "made or broken". The Xbox 360 will win this battle of the gaming consoles and may have even won the war.

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