Microsoft is planning to make RFID applications and tag-readers compatible with Windows.
According to Scott Woodgate, group product manager of business processes for Microsoft, the company is trying to integrate RFID programs with the operating system and make the majority of devices work with plug-and-play functionality.
Windows To Become RFID-Friendly
Microsoft is planning to make RFID applications and tag-readers compatible with Windows.
2005-07-06 4:34 pmremenic
made a funny typo there… I meant “when some piece…” instead of “when some people…”. Since I created an account on OSNews, I’m asuming I can edit my post… But I can’t find the edit link. Where is it hidden?
2005-07-06 4:44 pmdswain
Actually, you really can’t do that. During the beta testing time, it was tried and ruled not very wise/usable and removed for a variety of other reasons. I was sorta hoping for it myself, but I saw the reasoning as just at the time.
This sounds like something that should have been in Windows for a long time, at least according to what the article makes it sound like. I don’t know much about the RFID technologies, though, so I can’t be sure. At any rate, it sounds like a productive thing to add into Windows.
For those of us who don’t know RDIF too well yet:
Provides a pretty good definition of things here. According to the definition here, I can now understand why Windows wouldn’t include it right away, but still sounds like a useful technology… I’d suspect could come in handy for authentication use and those things.
We know Microsoft is an evil company. We know RFID is an evil technology because it WILL be abused to violate privacy rights and lawmakers WILL be bribed by the RFID industry in order to push it. How more evil does it need to get before the common and less cerebral folks finally wake up and say “no” to Microsoft and RFID?
2005-07-06 5:21 pmKelson
This whole “evil” characterization is ridiculous.
Microsoft is not evil. RFID is not evil.
You may disagree with their tactics, not like their products, or disagree with uses for a technology, but that does not make them evil.
Evil was Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse, and Pol Pot….not a company that has aggressive business tactics and a technology for wireless tracking, which has huge implications for the shipping industry among others.
Our local DHL system was having a fit combining their existing RFID systems into their new windows network. I came over to look at it, out of curiousity, and what I saw was a huge, jumbled, mess.
Windows Server 2003 did not acknowledge the existence of any of these devices when they were directly plugged in, via serial port or USB. I’m not sure why, but after changing server access, you could indirectly connect some of the wireless network readers into the various programmes they needed to use, but it was still a struggle for many of them.
Last time I heard, they reverted back to Windows 2000 with the old RFID suite they had previously been using.
Still, this is a good sign. The lost man hours some of these companies have to spend on incorporating features into Microsofts’ products can leave a lot to be desired, even when MS hits out a good product like 2003.
Can someone explain to me, or give me a link on why so many people are against RFID for privacy reasons? Also, is that an RFID tag when I go to the local book store and I see that small piece of paper with some electronic circuit stuffed between the pages?
2005-07-06 9:11 pmcrystalattice
To answer in reverse order, the tag you see is just the “antennae” that sets off the security gate at the front door if you try to steal the book. It’s the same type of device you see on CD’s and such at dept. stores. If it’s not deactivated at the counter then the gate’s siren goes off. AFAIK, it’s deactivated w/ just a large magnet, so maybe if you carried one around you can get free stuff. 😛
The privacy issue is a little more difficult. Many people don’t trust RFID because of the “Big Brother is Watching You” aspect. A common argument is that you can be tracked by someone as you buy things and they can “see” everything you buy as you walk around. Also, the stores are better able to track what you buy and use it for directed advertising and marketing.
The counter-argument is that RFID makes it easier for stores to track products, reduce costs, and reduce theft. I remember a story about a pharmaceutical company using RFID to track shipments; the boxes were stolen and used for counterfeit drugs.
Personally, I have a knee-jerk reaction to anything that has the potential to invade my privacy. But I realize that my privacy is slowly degrading and there’s not much I can do about it, so why not get some convenience out of it? I mean, the grocery store already tracks my purchases via a “preferred card”; I get lower prices and they get more marketing info. Eventually everyone will use RFID and when that happens, what can you do?
I think that people are worried about the potential for abuse; the logging of information and tracking. Tracking is a long way off. There is a potential for abuse eventually but that is why in the US there is a political process to help vet these issues out. Check out this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID
2005-07-06 5:51 pmmini-me
people can track you today without RFID.
When your workstation locks/logs out it can be logged – when you log back in it can be logged. Sites that you visit can/are logged by companies – need I go on 🙂
I like the idea of RFID for my personal laptop – I am in range – I can use it – I am not in range – it locks up – I come back – it unlocks. combine that with a MacOS X keychain-like software device (if you dont use macos) and you are golden!
For work I would much rather prefer SIM card (credit card sized) to protect my workstation.
2005-07-06 6:01 pmjustin_p
When I say trakcing I mean something with a GPS transmitter than can track you in realtime from anywhere.
2005-07-06 7:43 pmZlogic
Actually all you need to be tracked is a mobile phone. I’m using a GSM phone and my friend is using the same mobile operator. Well, I’m able to get his coordinates pretty accurately, +-10 meters. However, he gets an SMS however that I’m tracking him. But governments certainly can have the feature turned off and thack someone anonymously on request.
WIll bill Gate$ ever just give up!!! HOw much abuse is the clueless public going to take before they haul his monpolistic anti-compeitive ass to jail? I bet the idiot winblow$ lusers will just contnue on using it even tho their prvacy is invaded. i hate i hate ihate mikey$oft. ever since I switched to Linux over 5 yrs ago i never looked back…
Free Software means having the freedom to defend yourself against evil anti-privacy monopolies like microsoft. With the fine set of GNU tools that I rely on every day, I HAVE THE FREDOM TO SEE THE SOURCE CODE AND CAN TELL IF MY PRIVACY IS BEING INVADED. If I find some violation of my privacy (which will never happen with GNU), I have the FREEDOM to modify my software and remove the offending violation. I am also FREE to SHARE my modifications, thus enriching the COMMUNITY by offering a SAFE and ETHICAL alternative. Free Software allows the HONEST citizens of a community to triumph over the ANTISOCIAL behavior of a small minority. Free Software enables Democracy. Without Free Software, there would be no Democracy.
2005-07-06 6:17 pmdswain
As much as I love F/OSS software, what does this have to do with Microsoft building in support for a certain technology? Also, you’re free to use and apply GNU applications to any OS, including Windows, to help protect yourself. What’s to say you can develop something to protect yourself with Windows and disable RDIF technologies? What’s to say Windows won’t let you disable RDIF options for the sake of uselessness to your system or your privacy? What’s to say somebody doesn’t build RDIF support into an F/OSS OS/kernel? There’s nothing stopping you from disabiling it here either, and the ability to be vulnerable is just as great.
As I said, as much as I love F/OSS software, I don’t see any value in calling Microsoft an evil anti-privacy company. It doesn’t get you anywhere, and you still have many options and many freedoms to move away, or stay. Isn’t that freedom also, or does freedom only come in one form now?
2005-07-06 6:49 pmmini-me
GNU tools and source code is not for everyone-just ask my gramps – or my dad for that matter.
If everyone thought like you I wouldn’t have time for a job – I would constantly be asked by friends and family to look at their code :p
This can be another way that MS can try to track customer use. That can amount and be seen as privacy evasion, MS is not beyond doing this to make a buck.
Given our current climate where our freedoms in the USA have been taken away, this is very possible under the guise of homeland security. All of course IMHO.
> Microsoft is not evil.
Here, you’re very very wrong. Microsoft is about as evil as a corporation can be.
2005-07-06 6:47 pmmini-me
They are just out to make money :p
In the pursuit of capital anything is fair game (that is the MO of capitalism- dont forget). What is evil and what is not depends greatly from person to person. I would say MS is sleazy – not evil
I think it’s more of a case of making Windows more buzzword compliant. RFID is a hot topic right now so they have to integrate it somehow, regarldess whether the level of integration their shooting for is necessary or desirable.
You CANNOT be TRULY FREE unless you USE A TRULY FREE OPERATING SYSTEM. You will NEVER be SURE that YOUR PRIVACY is PROTECTED unless you have the FREEDOM TO EXAMINE ALL OF THE CODE EXECUTING ON YOUR COMPUTER. You will never be able to turn off RFID in windows because microsoft is a CONVICTED ANTI-PRIVACY MONOPOLIST. It is in their nature to ABUSE YOUR FREEDOMS because COMMERCIAL PROPRIATARY SOFTWARE COMPANIES BREED AND ENCOURAGE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR. I don’t know about OSS, but FREE SOFTWARE RESPECTS YOUR FREEDOMS AND PRIVACY. It allows DEMOCRACY TO FUNCTION AND ENRICH THE WHOLE COMMUNITY, NOT THE POCKETS OF SOME GREEDY CONVICTED MONOPOLISTS.
FREEDOM IS FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST FOR THE WEALTY FEW. Your ‘gramps’ and dad will BENEFIT from the FREEDOM that Free Software provides JUST AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE.
So what stopped people from putting together identical systems before like this using bar-codes? Oh wait, they have.
Other than being able to be read from a distance, what are the advantages of RFID tags over a good system using bar codes? Durability? Being able to watch things go through doorways?
“Free Software allows the HONEST citizens of a community to triumph over the ANTISOCIAL behavior of a small minority. Free Software enables Democracy. Without Free Software, there would be no Democracy.”
Well said. The Mark of The Beast will probably also be compatible with Windows, and closed source, in the future. Wait, RFID, microchips, implantable.. hey, I think.. NO CARRIER
What is so funny is that my IBM PCs have had RFID in them for ages. And they are a damn handy tool, mind you. My old PC 300 PL started life as a p2 300, and is now a 1.4 Ghz Celery. It has RFID for those corporate environments. If one of the machines had issues, it would fire off it’s RFID, you take a scanner with you and it’ll tell you the location of the “injured” machine. Really nice when you have floors of comuters to deal with. It can be turned off, but remote management of the BIOS can reenable it (with password of course). So despite all the latest hubbub about it and how evil it is, I’ve had great experiences with it. But with all good things, they can be used for evil…
great opportunities for spyware – now they can monitor anyhting within RFID range and report it back.
Yeah, this will surely help Plug n Play spyware and trojans that spread through RFID.
is this being going to be used to stop piracy of software. Think about it. A CD/etc. will be required to install/run an app/game. This device will incorporate an RFID tag that the reader in the PC (the one that microsoft is building support for) will read and allow the game to be loaded. If a pirated/coppied version is used, it will have no RFID tag, and the game/app will not load.
Now, this raises the interesting porential for an RFID sniffer and spoofer. Listen to the signal of a legit device and program your spoofer to emit a false signal, thereby bypassing this theoretical secuity layer…
I agree with the buzzword argument. All a commercial RFID reader should need is a serial port, that’s all barcode readers need. There’s no good reason it needs to be “integrated” into an OS, unless it’s going to be used as a DRM-like mechanism for access rights, which isn’t a great idea – as stated above it’s too easy to spoof.
I hear constant myths about RFID. RFID is just a barcode that doesn’t need line-of-sight to read. That is all.
Each tag is a chip the size of a grain of rice. Each tag has a different serial number (with 64 or 128 bits, you can make zillions of these and never repeat a number). When it’s pinged with a radio signal, it sends back the number. That’s all. It is definitely not continuously transmitting; it doesn’t even have a battery (it gets all its energy from the incoming ping).
The range on these things is nominally a few inches. If you’ve ever seen a vet scan for a microchip in a pet, they get the scanner right up against the skin and move it all over the normal implantation areas so they don’t miss anything. With higher ping power levels and directional antennas, you could theoretically read a tag from further away (1M? 10M?), but you’re also stuck with physics – that little chip can’t generate much RF power for the return data, and the further away you are the harder it will be to pick up. Not to mention that the more tags you hit with your ping, the more return data you’ll get that will be stepping all over each other. There are definite practical limits to how far away these things can be read, which doesn’t mean that there is no potential for abuse – putting them in passports is a bad idea because even if you can only detect them from a meter away, that could still be someone standing next to you in a crowd.
RDID will be useful for things like car keys you can keep in your pocket, but the chip itself cannot be used to track people globally, nor does it transmit any data besides a big constant serial number. What CAN be used to track people globally is if millions of RFID readers all send their data to some central agency; that’s the sort of thing that needs to be guarded against.
So, are they making Windows compatible with RFID readers, or RFID readers compatible with Windows?
It’s kind of funny. When some people of hardware doesn’t work with Linux, it’s because “Linux doesn’t support the hardware”. But if it doesn’t work with Windows, it’s because “the hardware doesn’t support Windows”.
I think they’re making Windows compatible with RFID readers, not the other way around.