RE: DRM is here to stay ... and with good reason
"1) Content publishers demand it. If the DRM was stripped, MS would be open to multiple lawsuits from any number of powerful, well-backed organizations for deliberately releasing an OS that permits people to view/listen-to DRM protected content, but without protecting the DRM rights. Don't like DRM? Then go talk to your senators and overturn RIAA."
Not so - it would fall on the content providers to supply the drm software with their products - which they all seem to do anyway, Windows is a platform, and if people want to protect their content on the Windows platform then it doesn't fall on M$ to provide it. Yes, when they release their own music/video/ebook store and gadget (zune) it will be up to M$ to protect the content if the publishers demand it, but even the gadget is up for debate, since Creative, SanDisk and many other manufacturers have devices than be copied to/from without the need for a DRM system. So no - M$ isn't actually required to have DRM at Win7's core. I can only imagine they did it in Vista to convince publishers they were serious about digital media, to control the viewing experience of the user by controlling the hardware it would use with HD media (for some reason?!), and finally lock people into their DRM system with Vista so they could sell licenses for it and make windows/theirdrm indispensable! Same with Apple and iTunes/iPod - they may say the drm was forced on them, but it's helped them sell a hell of alot of ipods, and digital music/movie files. If you fancy an example of a DRM free system, try a bare copy of XP with a copy of winamp and a creative zen mp3 player, or pretty much any linux distribution with Amarok, and I'm pretty sure the only drm on a virgin osx install is in iTunes - and it only restricts if the content was purchased through itunes.
"2) DRM is actually extremely useful in a corporate setting - it allows you to determine who can read the documents/spreadsheets etc., that you create. If you DRM your Word/Excel/Etc. files, and they happen to fall into the wrong hands, then they can't be cracked and read. If only more apps and more people used DRM to protect content by default, there'd be less hullabaloo each time a civil servant left their laptop on a train and/or had it stolen!"
DRM is also extremely inconvenient and can be expensive in the corporate setting - it ties you into one implementation of that DRM, and is normally OS specific too. Therefore files which are bogged down in DRM can't be transferred to devices that don't have the drm decoding software, like phones, laptops, other os's, etc. It is far easier to stick to accepted encryption algorithms, that are wildly implemented on many devices, and are actually proven to protect data - which drm is yet to prove. DRM also alienates your customer base, and annoys people when they realise they've been duped into accepting it. Some DRM is fine though, like on an xbox 360 when you "rent" a movie over xbox live... DRM itself isn't inherently evil, it just depends on the setting and implementation - but in the case of an operating system, there is no need for it to be in there on a virgin install - if it's needed later it should be installed when needed, not slowing down and annoying everybody else because a handful of people might find it useful on day.
"3) DRM is actually used to protect some of your most personal data and settings within the OS itself ... things you most certainly would NOT want someone else to be able to easily obtain."
Not here... I have never bought anything from a DRM infested service - all my mp3's, videos and files are DRM free. If things need protecting, like personal documents, then I use military grade encryption with a virtual drive - which is not the same thing as DRM. DRM isn't protecting the user from anything - it's usually controlling the number of times a document can be accessed, and how it is accessed, before it self-destructs - and this is normally to the benefit of corporations, not the end users. I definitely have never heard of anybody who has used DRM for their person files, it makes more sense to encrypt your files in a portable mountable file.
"Regarding the questions about whether Win7 is faster and more stable than Vista ... I think you're going to be pleasently surprised."
I hope so - I actually liked some of the Aero stuff in Vista, but couldn't live with the wait time between copying files, and a few other show stoppers, like the network management was awful, CPU usaged after an update was disgusting taking 100% for several minutes, just to check you got all the updates?! ... I did however love the media centre - it seemed to use my 3 year old tuner instantly, didn't need 3rd party drivers for it, and was really good at streaming stuff to my xbox 360 too. Also never had as many issues as other people made out with UAC, I certainly never noticed much more than my mac asks me when I do things like load a bootcamp partition every day with vmware, or during installs/updates.