By Scott Dunn
Vista’s 64-bit signed-driver debacle leads one reader to despair of Microsoft ever learning.
Will customer protests of Redmond’s approach lead the situation to be improved, or is this a case in which a mistake is set in stone?
Microsoft does what it wants
Referring to my admonition on driver signing in the closing comments of my May 10 article, reader Dan Topper doubts that anything will change:
- "While I agree with what you have written about ‘signed drivers,’ I also know that Microsoft has a history of doing what it wants. Since it is almost impossible to apply economic pressure to Microsoft to do better, this too will become a fact of life to deal with. The best example I can think of to demonstrate this principle is Microsoft’s abominable attempts at security. Would you argue that their doing something is better than nothing? I say they have a history of doing nothing in some regards, and it is up to the users to protect themselves (let the buyer beware). Microsoft has demonstrated how resistant they are to change in many ways."
Toward a deeper understanding of DEP
Referring to my May 3 article on Data Execution Prevention (DEP), reader John Leslie provides a corrective description of how DEP actually works:
- "I presume lots of people told you your description of DEP is nonsense? Nothing to do with data on disk. It’s marking pages that aren’t used for ‘code.’ A common hack is to overflow a buffer in a stack segment to 1.) add malicious code and, 2.) put the address of that code as the return address to the current function (by overwriting the original). DEP marks pages used for stack as non-executable so, if this fails, the application dies with a DEP error. It can’t continue, as it lost the next address."
Adobe places few restrictions on educational versions
The May 3 issue also discussed restrictions on academic software sold by Adobe, which acquired Macromedia in 2005 and still sells products under that brand. Reader Michael Sullivan makes some cogent observations on this topic:
- "Regarding academic licensing, you note that in the past Adobe has not imposed limits on use of its software purchased pursuant to its academic licensing scheme, while Macromedia has barred commercial use and puts a logo on the screen to ensure that. You suggest that Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia will likely change the latter. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Adobe appears to be continuing the existing academic licensing policies applicable to its own, and the former Macromedia, software.
"The EULA in my copy of the newly released Adobe Photoshop CS3, for example, does not restrict academic-licensed usage to noncommercial. But, the license agreements for the former Macromedia products posted on the Adobe website do restrict commercial use of academic licenses. A PDF version of the EULA for Creative Suite CS3 (various versions of which contain both Adobe and former Macromedia products) posted on Adobe’s EULA list, however, seems to be the same as the version included with Photoshop CS3 in not restricting commercial use.
"Adobe has not updated its EULA list to provide access to agreements applicable to the CS3 versions of each individual product. I think that the more liberal CS3 EULA applies to, say, Dreamweaver CS3, but there is no way to tell for sure without buying it."