Palladium - A Modest Prediction

By Nils Dahl

Date: July 3, 2002

Because I am (mostly) outside the loop of industry insiders, I often refrain from making predictions on technologies that are close to arriving. After all, there are many NDA signers who already know exactly what memory technologies are demonstrated in new Hammer designs. That is just one example.

Palladium, on the other hand, is fairly easy to predict. I figure that this is a part of Microsoft's NET/Passport/hardware initiative that begins arriving with the 'next XBox' - the hard drive video recording and game playing box that is said to be coming as early as this Fall. The current XBox may have some components of Palladium implemented in various system components - a sort of trial balloon that readies the XBox for uses other than the currently advertised one of playing games and dvd movies. Remember the DIVX idea of Circuit City? Imagine a Microsoft branded dvd movie that plays on demand on XBox units only - and only after online billing of the usage. Such a feature could be in XBox right now or downloadable in some form. I have long experience with the devious copy protection schemes used in music software that puts special sectors onto hard drives.

So I will predict a Palladium project that arrives inside sealed Microsoft boxes starting this year. No legacy ports on most of those boxes. You will be allowed to do just what Microsoft chooses to let you do. Wait for the surprises to be unveiled.

Frankly, it doesn't make sense at all to try marketing a general purpose computer that has the built in restrictions of Palladium unless those boxes were specially priced far lower than actual manufacturing cost and tied to online MSN services that produced compensating monthy and per use royalty fees. Imagine marketing batches of music as batch downloads that produce monthly charges - just as digital satellite radio does now. In simple terms, think entertainment media marketing to home consumers. Given the built in networking and device detection that such systems require, it is easy to imagine per device charges for the number of nodes in a home network and for each use of media by any node - as cable tv providers try to do already.

This year is turning out to be far more interesting than I had imagined. And folks, you ain't seen nothing yet.

nils dahl

just an old man

"A person is defined far more by his choices than by his knowledge" Albus Dumbledore


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