The PC as a platform is one, long line stretching from DOS onward, but that line is becoming a bit frayed. Microsoft has revealed that games that still use the old SafeDisc or SecuROM DRM will not work in Windows 10. That means there's a decent number of older disc-based titles that simply won't run on your shiny new Windows PC.
The information was noted in a Rocket Beans interview with Windows Marketing Manager Boris Oliver Schneider-Johne. The interview itself is in German, with a translation coming from our sister site, Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
"Everything that ran in Windows 7 should also run in Windows 10," said Schneider-Johne. "There are just two silly exceptions: antivirus software and stuff that's deeply embedded into the system needs updating – but the developers are on it already – and then there are old games on CD-Rom that have DRM."
"This DRM stuff is also deeply embedded in your system, and that's where Windows 10 says 'sorry, we cannot allow that, because that would be a possible loophole for computer viruses.' That's why there are a couple of games from 2003-2008 with Securom, etc. that simply don't run without a no-CD patch or some such. We can just not support that if it's a possible danger for our users. There are a couple of patches from developers already, and there is stuff like GOG where you'll find versions of those games that work."
Both versions of DRM have long been a source of pain and confusion for legitimate owners of certain PC games. Issues would pop up frequently, preventing players from enjoying games they legally purchased until they jumped through significant hoops or simply downloaded a no-CD crack for the title. SafeDisc hasn't been updated since 2006 and in 2007, the DRM caused Microsoft a great deal of turmoil when it was found an exploit could give a hacker an elevation of privilege and thus, access to your PC. Microsoft patched out the vulnerability later that year.
SecuROM was used on titles like BioShock, Mass Effect, Spore, and Dragon Age II. With BioShock, the game required online activation and only allowed two activations in total. Spore required online authentication every ten days with only three activations in total. That caused such a furor that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Electronic Arts over the DRM. The Electronic Frontier Foundation still uses the Spore case as an example where DRM limits the fair-use rights of consumers.
Honestly, this is Microsoft putting some of the darkest days of DRM behind it. PC DRM has always been a bit annoying - Hi, Uplay! - but the days of SeruROM and SafeDisc were particularly egregious in that respect. People still object to current DRM implementations like Steamworks, but for many, that DRM at least stays out of your way. Even beyond that, the rise of GOG has provided a great online storefront for DRM-free PC titles.
Will it be harder to play some of these titles? Yes, but that's a problem the publisher has to deal with, or risk fans resorting to the some piracy they were trying to protect against in the first place. Which again is one of the biggest strikes against using DRM.
So this is where I do a little dance about the death of SecuROM and SafeDisc. Hope you'll join me.