posted in: Windows - tags: linux, microsoft, oss, windows

Our local church assembly (Central Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach, FL) needed a computer on which to record audio for every church sermon, and on special occasions, video.

We didn't want any problems with this computer, so it had to be new, have a decent CPU with plenty of RAM, and have no issues that would prevent the smooth operation of the church's sermons. The HP machine we purchased from SAMS club came with Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit edition).

The church decided that we would like to stream video for those who could not make it to church. Upon the advice of the VLC (VideoLan) hardware compatibility page, we purchased a Winnov Videum 4100 AV capture card.

There is a manufacturer provided Vista driver that works great with the Winnov Videum 4100 capture card.

With 64-bit Vista, Microsoft has decided they will enforce a driver signing policy. If Microsoft does not "sign" a driver, certifying its compatilbility with the operating system, they'll actively prevent the (100% working) device driver from installing, therefore rendering the hardware useless. Their rationale for this is explained here. Driver signing enforcement... get it?

I don't have a problem with making things "difficult" at times for the end user. There are times when you don't want to leave something critical up to the end-user to break, leading to technical support calls, lost revenue, etc. In the beginning, there was a simple "hack" to disable this windows "feature" of driver signing enforcement. See here. Microsoft left the door open for more technically inclined users to utilize the "unsigned" hardware they've paid for... Not everyone needs Windows to nanny them around and protect them from potentially rogue drivers.

Unfortunately, Microsoft fired back as if to tell us "we said no!" and has released "Windows Updates" KB938979 and 932596 to disable the ability to work around their driver signing restrictions, therefore once again rendering our hardware useless. These "Windows Updates" were an intentional attack on their own paying customers.

Microsoft wants hardware manufacturers to engage in business deals to sign their drivers. If they don't agree to these "quality assurance" deals, they punish them by hurting their own customers, eventually causing a decline in the vendor's hardware sales. You simply can't use hardware that won't work. See Winnov's brief statement and possible workaround on the issue here.

We have paid for the Windows Operating system to essentially shoot us in the foot.

The only remaining way for us to operate our hardware is to press F8 on boot up and manually disable driver signing enforcement, every time the computer boots up. This machine is mostly an unmanned server, and this just isn't feasable.

This HP desktop computer is going to be formatted and will be running Ubuntu (or Arch) with Audacity (for recording) and VLC (for streaming audio and video) in the days to come. I'll comment here with updates. We'll probably wait for Lucid (10.04) at the end of the month. In the meantime, I'll be looking for some linux friendly analog video capture hardware. It looks like there was a code-warrior maintaining linux drivers for our Winnov Videum 4100, but was unable to continue development into the newer kernels.

I believe in open markets and I don't believe in forced government or legal intervention into a company's business practices. I could care less if Microsoft bundles their IE web-browser with their operating system. Let's let the people decide the market.

When a software company that we pay to help us do a job actively restricts our ability to get work done and counts us as soft-target casualties in a battle to strong-arm hardware vendors, they're going to lose customers and Linux / Open Source will gain advocates.

So think before you shoot.

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David Davis