If you want to be able to use the forthcoming CableCARD 2.0 standard on a Windows Vista-powered Media Center PC, you'd better make sure to read the label on that box carefully. According to Microsoft's Jim Allchin, CableLabs plans a rigorous certification program for CableCARD 2.0, which will require manufacturers to submit their machines for approval. Part of the approval involves making sure the computer includes a "protective path," which we assume means it adheres to CableLabs' standards for DRM. While this may not mean much for customers who plan on buying an MCE PC through an established manufacturer, most of which will likely get CableLabs certification, it could pose a challenge if you plan on buying a Media Center through one of the many boutique manufacturers that have cropped up to meet the demands of high-end customers -- or if you plan on building your own. And if you already have a Media Center PC, you can probably forget about CableCARD 2.0 compatibility, and just hang onto that set-top box forever.
CableCARD on Vista to require CableLabs certification
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