Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Future Of Computing

Reposted From: October 1, 2011

The following is purely based on my own conjecture and speculation. At no time have developers stated that the following things I'm suggesting here may come about.

Secure Boot
The present
Whether people realize it or not, the operating system that makes your system work is licensed to you. Even though you buy a copy and install it, you are only authorized/permitted to use it. You never actually own it.

One of the ways authors assure your abide by their terms is that shortly after you install the operating system, the OS software requires that you go online and obtain a key. This key then permits you to use it beyond 30 days after it's initial installation. In my own case, Windows is my OS.

As I stated above, nobody at Microsoft ever said they intended to do business differently. This is my own conjecture as to the possibilities of what they could be capable of requiring in the future.

Suppose after 365 days your software required that your renew, with a paid subscription, for it's continued use?Not like they couldn't do that already if they so desired.The next generation, Windows 8
The Future
Windows 8 is adding another feature called secure boot. The reason stated for incorporating it in the next edition is because of hackers.

Currently when you update or download software you will note that it requires a restart. This is so software apps or updates can install properly.

What can also happen after you visit a hacked site or viewed/downloaded an infected email file, it can embed itself so the next time you boot up, unbeknownst to you, it installs some really nasty malware before your virus protection or the windows operating system loads. This is one way hackers can avoid detection.

Malware can do just about anything behind your back. Things like recording your passwords and user ID to corrupting or even transmitting your personal files. Some can even wipeout your entire computer and create a situation you can't recover from w/o a full clean re-install.

This is where the secure boot comes in. 'Secure boot' would require encrypted keys to be loaded before all else.

Where would these keys be stored?
Boot Order: (1) They could potentially require that keys be embedded in the firmware of all your hardware devices from the manufacturer. (2) The next up would come the keys for the OS (operating system) itself (Windows) and I'm assuming your virus protection software. (3) Anything after that would come under the scrutiny of Windows itself, then your viral protection software. If these two items determined maleware was trying to install itself, they would block it.

This offers almost complete protection against viral software sneaking an installation before all your protections are in place and not having a chance to review them first.

Here's the downside to all of that. Let us suppose (my own conjecture) that Microsoft decided to make their Windows operating system a subscription service? One which you paid fees to use.

What if you had to pay extra monthly to use it. Maybe even extra for each person who creates a user ID before the OS would even load?

If they ever went to pay-go system, do you see how easily your computer could become a 'brick' if you fail to subscribe?There is talk that users could be allowed to opt-out. However it is not required that manufacturers make that opt-out provision available if they choose not to.Currently computers use firmware instructions before they boot called BIOS (Basic Input/Output System). It's usually stored some where on the motherboard by the manufacturer.

This would be replaced with the system I described above. Not only the motherboard but each component also could be required to embed a key that unlocks each of them. They currently do not do that.

So it is possible that even hardware manufactures could create subscriptions to use even their own products. Graphic cards, Sound cards, router, etc.

One may ask, how can they do that if it's firmware?
Well manufacturers already create updates for their firmware. Just suppose they lease the key for a year instead. Then when it expired, unless you pay for a firmware update for it's continued usage, it would 'brick' out.

'Cloud' Computing.
Cloud computing is a definite. It's coming.


Future releases of word editors, spreadsheet and tons of others will no longer reside on your computer. The selling point is you would never again have to worry about updating or worry about viruses infecting that software. It would already be taken care of for you at the server where you go to make use of them.

My conjecture.
What if developers would then also decide to charge a subscription fee for it's use?
What too if they gain access to the files you were working on?They already are offering 'cloud' services to backup and store your files. Sorry, I don't trust anyone with my files.
The Wrap Up
It would be a sorry day if I had to pay fees for all the software, hardware and the operating system itself. Rather then pay a half dozen fees to avoid 'bricking' my computer, I like buying my own software and installing it. It's not that they can't create 'crippleware' already.

The big deal here is this 'secure boot'. This potentially could not only affect the operating system itself, but possibly all your computer components as well. That takes it to a whole new level.

EXAMPLES Of CRIPPLEWARE:'TiVo"- Requires a subscription. Unsubscribing results in nag screens and limited features.

Satellite Dish Receivers- Requires a subscription. Unsubscribe and it's 'bricked'

Cell Phones- Unsubscribe it's bricked. Even some 'apps' for the iPhone get bricked w/o subscriptions.

Xbox, PlayStation, Kindle, etc.
Personally I would hate to see the day come when our computers become an extension of these. But you can see (via the examples above) where all this is headed.

Everything is taken one step at a time. Folks have bought into those items I've mentioned. This sends a strong signal to developers that folks already have expressed a willingness to pay for their usage. Why not computers they bought and paid for as well?And you heard it here first

Secure Boot
A discussion here.
More Info here.

Extra Read:
Several years back one of our mechanics went down to the shop with a broken part which shut down production. For every minute the department was down it cost the company $300 for the loss in manufactured product alone (not including labor).

The company I worked for rented a lathe that used specially designed software to make that critical part. He loaded up the software, just as he had always done before.. NOTHING!

So the company called in the service tech from the manufacturer. He couldn't fly in for two days. At $300 a minute it was costing the company well over $800,000 in lost production. That does not include the OT it would require to make up for the lost manufacturing time. Nor the orders for our product that were cancelled because we couldn't deliver on time.

The service rep gets there and in less then 10 minutes has the problem nailed down. "I see you didn't renew the subscription for the design software on this lathe." The company I worked for assumed that by renting the lathe monthly everything was included. The tech explained the machine is theirs. The software is not.

Kind of feels like blackmail doesn't it?

Within minutes the lathe was back up and running, but not until the company renewed their very expensive subscription (online). A million dollar bricking for the company in this case.

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