back to article Slow Ring Windows 10 fragged by anti-cheat software in the games you're playing at work, says Insiders supremo

Windows Insiders chief Dona Sarkar has taken to Twitter to explain what's taking the Slow Ring version of Windows 10 so long: It's all about the gamers, apparently. In a sequence of tweets, Sarkar admitted the problem was a bug caused by gaming anti-cheat codes. Since it wasn't hardware specific, a staged release is apparently …

  1. Jusme

    WTF is a Slow Ring???

    LMGTFY....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Insider#Rings

    Oh, an alpha release...

    <crawls back into my box>

    1. overunder

      Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

      The fact that isn't explained in the article is egregious. This article seems like an excerpt from a Games for Windows meeting in which "you had to be there". Am I the only one thinking this is a bad article?

      Why should anyone know WTF a ring is? Also, I don't even understand who's calling out the problem or where it's at. Is it MS programmers or 3rd party ones bringing this up to the other? Are the bugs in the OS or 3rd party software? The only thing I take away is that Microsoft just keeps spying on users... which we know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

        'Are the bugs in the OS...?'

        It's Windows 10 - There's your problem.

      2. Michael Habel Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

        If you cant pick up on the Tab. Then you should probably invest some time to learn the lingo kid. This is a Site, for those that don't have to be coddled to things that you should already know. Such as how utterly retarded MicroSoft Products.... (Or a lack therof...), have become, post Windows 7...

        Gives one pause to wonder if they will survive into the 2030's the way they are going. I guess thats why they are doing their damndest to drag Linux down with them.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

          Such as how utterly retarded MicroSoft Products.... (Or a lack therof...), have become, post Windows 7 Altair Basic...

          There, FTFY.

      3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

        I didn't know what one is either, but you can infer it from the article. It's a pre production release, and 'slow' indicates more testing. Googling the rings shows to no surprise at all, that there is also a Fast ring which may be less stable.

        The 'slow' features will have been tested internally and in the 'fast' ring first, and failed validation at that point.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

          Less creappy spying, and and hole-ly Enterprise version of Windows X or BUST!

          You know with the utter outrage about the poor not being able to buy their way out of creepy Facebook spying... One would like to ask where this finely judged outrage snuck off too with Windows X? Or, did we just all of a sudden decided to say f*** it!?

          Its actually kind of alarming to find that Windows X has managed to get ahead of Windows 7.

          If you beleve the numbers.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

      Maybe I've had a sheltered life, but I found myself asking WTF is the acronym LMGTFY.

      So I turned to Google. And now I'm stuck in a causation loop.

      - MyffyW, proudly on the spectrum, whether it be ASD, EM or LGBTQI+

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

        i've just googled MyffyW , as you had it on the last line, before realising its your username

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

      Actually I, like a lot of people on here, am absolutely fine about the terms fast ring and slow ring. However, not being a gamer type person, I'm a little befuddled as to what gaming anti-cheat codes are.

      1. Ceiling Cat

        Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

        Anti-cheat programs are background apps that work at low level to detect cheating in games. Very specifically, they look for such things as : Keyboard Macro software, debuggers, packet injection type cheating, and the like, and either kill the processes involved or trigger the player's account to be banned.

        Worst I ever saw was HackShield (or was it GameGuard?) actually defeating Speedfan's attempts to ramp up my fan speeds while I was playing a very CPU and GPU intensive game. At the time I was using a brutally loud CPU cooler, and I shouldn't have to risk tinnitus just to play a game.

    4. Usermane

      Re: WTF is a Slow Ring???

      I think is the kind of rings for to keep an erection and slow the ejaculations.

  2. SVV Silver badge

    A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

    It therefore folows that a lot of people aparrently also install telemetry on their work computers that allows another company to see absolutely everything that they do at work. Companies who have allowed this to happen have more to worry about than whether their staff are playing video games.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

      it also follows that these workplaces allow alpha OS installing too. That is even more worrying.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

        Some workplaces produce software that needs to not be broken by new versions of Windows.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: software that needs to not be broken by new versions of Windows

          An oxymoron?

          Is there any future for Windows without a major change in direction?

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

          They do, but you typically wouldn't put it on an important/dev box if you had any sense, it'd be on a test box - one that's not likely to be used to play other games.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

            What if your job involves developing the aforementioned game, or some peripherals that might be used to play it?

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

              Good point, katrinab - but would these jobs account for "a lot" of users? I honestly don't know.

            2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

              The above still applies. You run it on your test box.

              I suppose there might be a limited number of scenarios when remote debugging isn't an option, and the game will be released exclusively on a platform that is not yet available, but that has to be a minority of cases.

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

      Don't forget all the US state govs (elections anyone?) running Windows 10 Home lol... true story unfortunately...

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

        You mean mean how those DNC Russians were able to hack into those Systems!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

        But of course. If the elections aren't going the way you want, you just change the results. That's definitely planned.

        And the best part? Everything those machines do, can be seen&modified from Redmont: W10 is nothing but a fat terminal for Microsoft servers: Remote control is absolute and applies to anything.

    3. joed

      Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

      Ability to join insider program (or even install a game) on a work computer does not sound plausible. OTOH, "fanboys" and geeks are far more likely to participate (on their personal systems) and just as likely to play some games (thus supplying MS plenty of data on this particular subject). Because of this MS' excuses don't hold water. I'd rather say that they'd rummaged through the telemetry looking for something else before actually using it to spot bugs. Prior issues seem to confirm this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A LOT of you apparently play games at work!

        Ability to join insider program (or even install a game) on a work computer does not sound plausible.

        Or perhaps they just scarfed-up an enterprise licensed install from work, to use on their home systems. Saves having to spend your OWN money on a software license. Not that I'd know anything about such practices, mind you...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I simply cannot understand how Win10 and it's telemetry is accepted in any business or office, Enterprise version or not. And how MS haven't yet been hammered by gpdr is way beyond me, particularly for home users.

    1. Zoopy

      GPDR vs. telemetry

      I think that's a great question. Assuming it hasn't been covered elsewhere, it would be an opportunity for The Register to do some serious journalism.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: GPDR vs. telemetry

        Thereg isn't going to, until someone actually gets prosecuted for breaking GDPR.

        It's beyond obvious that practically all social media firms are contravening GDPR.

        Probably all of the IAC dating sites (that is to say, 90% of dating sites) contravene GDPR. There is no justification for their position of keeping your data for up to a year in case you decide to undelete your account, and minimal justification for not deleting user data until two years of continuous inactivity (which conveniently isn't matched by showing last login dates, and I bet the inactive user is still included in the count of users on the system for marketing purposes). No justification other than maintaining their revenue, obviously.

    2. Ben Liddicott

      Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

      It's not a magic spell, you can't just say "Abracadabra GDPR! To jail with you!".

      You have to articulate in what way you think this does not comply with GDPR.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

        Microsoft would probably try to say its voluntary to get around the GDPR. What they have been found guilty of in the past is anti trust violations which is why "voluntary" is a load of crap.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

        The Dutch Government has already declrared Windows 10 and Office 365 as non-compliant. The report was fairly detailed and covered by El Reg.

        MS should provide a fixed version of Office 365 by April. But no news on Windows 7, 8 or 10.

      3. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

        Registry key to disable Cortana (10 home)? There, not easy to opt-out of ... in violation of GDPR.

        Data sent to MS, you have to toggle two switches and create two more registry keys (Home and Pro) ... not easy to opt out ... in violation of GDPR

        Data kept on MS servers indefinitely, violation of GDPR

        Office sends sensitive data from EU citizens in the EU to US servers, violation of GDPR

        Will that do or do you want more ? Got work to do ;-)

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

          yeah , but is all that hard-to-stop data qualifying for GDPR? , I assume for that it has to be personal identiying un-anonymised data

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

            Theoretically, yes. But the user has to opt-in to the data collection and it has to be transparent.

            As Microsoft still hasn't documented exactly what is collected and how anonymized it is, it certainly falls under a GDPR warning. The is a tool, where you can preview the XML, but you still only have Microsoft's word for it that what you can see (in the megabytes of text) is what actually gets sent, as the actual transmission is encrypted (as it should be). And how many normal users understand enough about XML to be able to decipher what the tool shows them, let alone have the time to wade through megabytes of text.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

            I also forgot to say, that the amount of data collected has to be the minimum required in order for the task at hand to be completed, it has to be deleted once the task is complete and you can't use the information for any other tasks.

            E.g. if you collect an email address as part of user registration, you can only use it to send emails relating to the account activation / maintenance. You can't use the email address to send them newsletters, additional services, offers or other purposes not related to account maintenance. You would need to get additional authorization from the user for each of those additional tasks.

            You also cannot pass on the users information to any third parties without the users explicit written permission (there are discussions as to whether clicking OK is explicit permission in the sense of the directive, but theoretically, it has to be written permission) - so no passing the information to a business partner or, worse, selling it on to a third party.

            Given the definition of the data Microsoft collects is wishy-washy and exactly what they do with it is also not clear, that is 2 more breaches, if there is any PII in the data - and PII (personally identifiable information) can be a lot of things, including IP address, MAC address, Windows account name, email addresses etc. Even a unique device "footprint" could be construed as PII, because you can trace it back to a single device and, in a majority of cases, a PC has only one or maybe 2 users. If the data is so anonymized that you can't tell where it came from (geolocation information would fall under PII in this instance) or which actual device it is, how can you collate the information about the device?

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

              The username is an email address, which is PII, so all data they gather is PII, because all data is linked to email address.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: Why on earth would this be a problem for GDPR?

                It depends, on some sites and if you are using Windows 10 with a linked Microsoft account, then yes, but not everywhere uses an email address as a username.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Given the telemetry data stills isn't fully documented, it, and the much more severe telemetry in Office 365, have already been declared as not GDPR compliant. Microsoft wanted to release a compliant version of Office 365 by the end of March.

      Windows in blabbermouth mode has 422 data providers within Windows, "simple" or low mode "only" uses 410 data providers. The "secure" mode, only available on Enterprise versions of Windows only has 4 data providers. Office was much worse, running into the thousands of data providers.

      Disabling the service DiagTrack should stop the tracking altogether.

  4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    cheating

    Why would you care if someone cheats on a game you wrote/sell ?

    They paid for the game, presumably because they wanted to play it. If they cheat, they'll lose some playtime.

    I don't see a downside.

    Anti-copying stuff, sure. But not cheating the play.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: cheating

      Maybe because of in-game sales.i.e games that, as far as I can work out, need serious amounts of cash payment to give users any chance of completing them. I've not played these myself, but there's lots of talk about this stuff. "Powerups" costing serious cash and on the BBC they were talking about mystery boxes that can/need to be bought to grant different extra potential

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cheating

      Because in multiplayer games cheating ruins it for everyone. You have people who, as you say, paid for the game to have it ruined by others who don't play fair. Then you lose players if your game has a rampant cheating scene. And that's why literally any popular multiplayer game has some sort of anti-cheat system in place, which bans offenders and keeps your genuine player base happy-ish.

      1. MAH

        Re: cheating

        Realistically its not people who BUY games that the anticheating is for any longer...however if you play a subscription game (lets use fortnight as an example). Its technically free to play, but of course we know its really not and depends on people being happy and therefore willing to spend more money the game quarter after quarter.

        Unhappy people leave the games, and therefore your quarterly revenue stream goes with it....

      2. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: cheating

        Way back in the day, when Halo was released for PC, it didn't take long before various cheats were available - eveything from aimbots that could get a head shot every time, however laggy a player was, through to semi-transparent scenery so there was nowhere to hide and so on.

        You often saw one player who was just "too good to be true" ruining the game for legitimate players.

        Overnight it ruined what had been a decent (for the time) online experience. Had there been anticheat technology such as now, this would have been much less of an issue.

        Which shows my age as that's about the last time I played a game online.

        1. Usermane

          Re: cheating

          It happens even with Golf Clash.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Vendor lock-in

        "Because in multiplayer games cheating ruins it for everyone"

        Irrelevant, loot boxes ruin it too for everyone who doesn't have money and game companies don't give a f**k.

        The *only real problem* for a game company is that cheaters won't buy loot boxes as they don't need them. That means literally lost money and *that* is the real problem.

        Cut the BS, foloow the money and anyone can see that the whining about "cheating" is really whining about *money*.

        I can understand that, but them bastards lie about it every time.

        "And that's why literally any popular multiplayer game has some sort of anti-cheat system in place"

        No, it's all about money and as any popular multiplayer game is about money. Loot boxes, whatever: Game money bought by real money. Every time.

        When you've invested hundreds of dollars to your game, it's a total vendor lock-in as the stuff has zero re-sale value. Any game company loves that.

        Cheating ruins that also: No money invested, no lock-in. Can't have that.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Vendor lock-in

          Irrelevant, loot boxes ruin it too for everyone who doesn't have money

          nah , the prizes in these crappy illegal underage gambling sites games are as strategically useful as the prizes in a country fair tombola.

          My gf's teenager wanted to pay extortiionately for a skin - to make his in game weapon look cooler ffs.

          Kids go mad for that shit and have concept of the value of money.

          When you do get a better weapon - the stats on it show how the range or accuracy is slightly better - but thats insignificant compared to the skill level of playing against live people ,

          What im saying is they can buy a tiny advantage, not a big one.

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Vendor lock-in

            "are as strategically useful as the prizes in a country fair tombola."

            Depends on the game.

            Several recent releases had lootboxes that were pretty much required in order to progress. Star Wars Battlefront and Shadow of Mordor off the top of my head.

            After much backlash, the companies got rid of the lootboxes and reduced (by 90% in one case) the amount of grinding needed to unlock in game items. Which quite clearly showed that the game was designed that progression required lootboxes.

            "What im saying is they can buy a tiny advantage, not a big one."

            That's an argument against pay to win. People will pay for purely cosmetic items, even in single player. In multi player it can become even more important to a certain class of player*.

            They are gambling**, and they make money hand over fist like gambling. The PTB are looking for someone to blame for the uptick in youth gambling and for once they might actually be right that video games are to blame :)

            Blizzard Activision made 7 billion in revenue in 2017, 4 billion was from in game sales. Just to be clear, a games company made less money selling games and subscriptions than it did by selling lootboxes.

            It's gambling, so it should be regulated. To the PTB, that means some goodly chink of sin tax :) For me, I'd just like the honest odds for things, and the right to just buy the damn things if I really want.

            Well, what I'd really like is to have a game where I got all the content, and they charged me an appropriate upfront price, rather than a "how much have you got approach?". Or no upfront cost, and all the free to play and pay to win mechanics you want.

            * While it's been a while since I played WoW, when I did I'd did I'd make more gold from supplying "fashion designers" with my trash drops and selling mounts than alchemy and all the shuffles on anything but a dead server. A months sub for a pair of low level green pants. To some people, fashion is the ONLY thing.

            ** Various governments have looked at it, and concluded that paying money for a random chance at an item is indeed gambling. Games company response has been to say "Fuck you Belgium, we'll just pay the fines down the road" and release the latest FIFA/Battlefield etc.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Vendor lock-in

              Well , all over radio4 this morning was some politician saying , "Well we sorted those fixed odds betting machines on the high street , now we're coming after online gambling , internets . so watch out!"

              I guess lootboxes wont be first in the firing line though , and they may find regulating the internet trickier than regulating a high st shop...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vendor lock-in

          Punkbuster was released in 2001.

          Absolutely no games had loot crates or micro transactions back then so you're full of hot air.

          People hacking was extremely annoying though and if a game had a serious cheating problem you wouldn't buy a follow up.

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: cheating

      Because cheaters make regular honest folks abandon the game, then tell their mates not to buy it because of the cheaters....

      Theres nothing worse than spawn ... die spawn die... spawn die.... without even a chance to do anything because some ass thinks its funny to run an aimbot and kill everyone in seconds

    4. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

      Re: cheating

      They're "anti-cheats" against cheats used for online PvP gaming like Fallout-76 and Anthem and Battlefront 2 and so forth. The cheats would enable you to get enhancements without having to go through micro-transactions - a crime worse than murder as far as the likes of EA are concerned.

      1. Patrician

        Re: cheating

        It's nothing to do with "micro-transactions"; anti-cheat systems have been a part of online gaming since TFC.

        PunkBuster was integrated into Return to Castle Wolfenstein. in 2001, again well before micro-transactions existed.

        1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

          Re: cheating

          That would be why people have been banned from Fallout 76 for acquiring too much ammo without buying it through microtransactions? As detected by their "anti-cheat" system.

          Like all things, anti-cheats have evolved, in this case to the benefit of the micro-transaction fans.

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: cheating

            "As detected by their "anti-cheat" system."

            In certain very old multiplayer games there was a "cheat" flag. I discovered in many games that it didn't take into account certain effects you could stack, and thus you could end up wrecking a long game by cheating.

            Always liked that Civ just stuck it on the menu for you :)

            There are some who feel taking Ashen Empire Ermor in Dominions 2 is cheating anyway.

    5. Wade Burchette

      Re: cheating

      Anti-copying mechanisms are even worse than anti-cheating. If I legally bought a product, I should be able to make 1 million copies for myself as often I want, when I want, and without the permission of someone else.

      1. Patrician

        Re: cheating

        No, because you don't legally buy a game, you by a license to use that software; the only part of the "product" that you could be said to "own" is the physical media/box/slipcase that the software in on/in. This has always been the case.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          And that argument falls flat when your disc breaks because they do not send you a new disc.

          If I had a license, then the disc is irrelevant and breaking one should ensure you get another free. But no, you have to pay for a new disc, meaning you pay a second license.

          So that means that that disc is mine, and licensing terms can stuff it where the sun don't shine.

          Of course, that only mattered when games were actually sold on discs. With rampant multiplayer everywhere, all they need to do now is control your access to the server. They don't care about discs any more.

          1. Patrician

            And that argument falls flat when CD Project Red sent me a replacement Witcher 3 disk when mine became unreadable, free of charge. All I had to do was email them a picture of the game packaging including the disk(s) .

            The replacement arrived less than a week after requesting it.

            And, if you "break" your disk why would you expect it to be replaced for free? if you buy anything and "break" it, would you expect it to be replaced free of charge?

            There is a cost to a physical disk, not to mention the cost associated with handling and postage/packaging.

            1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

              Licences

              "There is a cost to a physical disk, not to mention the cost associated with handling and postage/packaging."

              Which should be minimal. Even if you allowed for say two replacement disks per sale, and you spend the minimum effort checking the client claims, it's maybe a buck or two on top of a games price.

              It's pretty basic customer service. I'd assume it was essential for any industry that runs a lot on loyalty. If a customer has gone to the effort of getting hold of you, the story of how you treat them is going to be told to quite a few people.

              My friend is an avid bibliophile, and buys a couple of hundred hardbacks a year. Half of these are from a single publisher (Baen). Not only does he regularly get "free" books (typically first in a series) from them, but he's had about a dozen books replaced (flood damage) for free. Including shipping. And it works, that's where he spends the bulk of his book money.

              1. Patrician

                Re: Licences

                "Which should be minimal. Even if you allowed for say two replacement disks per sale, and you spend the minimum effort checking the client claims, it's maybe a buck or two on top of a games price."

                Which was correct in my case; CD Project Red replaced the disk free of charge.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: cheating

        copies for myself as often I want, when I want,

        and if you bought a car , you should be able to drive at 140mph with the seatbelt off?

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: cheating

          "and if you bought a car , you should be able to drive at 140mph with the seatbelt off?"

          Yes, if it is off the public road.*

          *Leaving aside that "drive at 140mph" and "with the seatbelt off" are not connected at all - yes, both are illegal in many countries, but independent of each other i.e. driving at 140mph on a public road with a posted limit is illegal regardless of whether a seatbelt is worn, and driving at 14mph without a seatbelt is also illegal.**

          ** Also, in practical terms, driving at 140mph does not require a seatbelt to be worn, and wearing a seatbelt does not of itself make driving at 140mph possible.

    6. swampdog

      Re: cheating

      Apparently it can play havoc with multiplayer games. I happened across a youtube vid the other week wherein users who drop their resolution really low can see other players who are supposed to be hidden behind something, foliage etc. Battlefield V it was iirc.

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: cheating

        That wouldn't be caught by this anti-cheating code - while not intended by the developers, messing with the options provided in game is, at worst, an exploit. In this case, it's not something that the game can readily detect, even before you consider the legitimate reasons for running the game below your screen's max resolution (eeking performance out of a weak PC as one example)

        This anti cheat code is there to stop external code that modifies play, whether that be changing map files so that a section of floor is missing so that you can skip a series of bosses (WoW - AQ40), have the computer do your aiming for you (aimbots), having it so you have infinite ammo/removing the need to reload, changing the speed you move at. The list is pretty much endless.

    7. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: cheating

      I'd certainly care more that a game was running code at an elevated privilege - which I presume is necessary to trigger a GSOD, particularly if it's a problem Microsoft can't fix themselves - than that someone might be cheating at an inconsequential distraction. Just exactly what is this anti-cheat code doing? What might it do in future? Even when you pay for the damned stuff, you're still not in charge...

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Headmaster

        Re: cheating

        It's more likely that the problematic anti-cheat software is elevated, rather than the game itself.

  5. Danny 14 Silver badge

    zoink. https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2018/11/07/data-protection-impact-assessment-op-microsoft-office

  6. InNY
    Coat

    Quote: "Since it wasn't hardware specific,

    a staged release is apparently more trouble than it's worth and the team isn't keen on releasing something likely to blow up in the user's face."

    It's never stopped them before... /s

  7. eldakka Silver badge
    WTF?

    Why is a general purpose desktop O/S incorporating gaming anti-cheat code?

    Sure, for a console O/S, a device designed around playing games, fair enough.

    I do play online games, Battlefield etc., and I think cheaters should go straight to hell. But I still don't think it is the O/S's responsibility to prevent this cheating.

    1. adnim Silver badge

      MS

      sell multi-player games for Windows 10.

      It is probably cheaper and easier to integrate an anti-cheat system in the OS than every multi-player game they develop. I suspect this anti cheat code will not prevent cheating in third party games, only those available from the MS store. I don't associate Microsoft with altruism.

    2. tfewster Silver badge

      > Why is a general purpose desktop O/S incorporating gaming anti-cheat code?

      Windows 10 - The Emacs of the 21st century

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        I call shenanigans, I'm sure there are at least 10 People who would argue that EMACS was more useful than anything ever made by MicroSoft.

        1. fobobob
          Trollface

          Is this a binary joke?

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I read the article as meaning that some third-party anti-cheating code is broken by changes to the OS. Presumably because it is doing something naughty, like calling undocumented methods that are liable to change, etc.

      Because anti-cheating software has to pick up things that alter the way a game behaves while it runs, that software presumably has to be able to see all running processes, and therefore run with elevated priveliges - i.e. pretend to be part of the OS. I suspect that this is the root of the problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Root kit

        " that software presumably has to be able to see all running processes, and therefore run with elevated priveliges - i.e. pretend to be part of the OS"

        I.e. a root kit. The real question is why the OS is allowing that to happen for *some* programs as that's a privilege escalation security hole for any program, right there.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Root kit

          It's only a rootkit if it uses an exploit to gain privilege escalation. More likely is that Microsoft have issued a certificate to the developers that allows them to sign the code so that the OS knows that it can run with raised privileges. Note - raised privileges, not root privileges. I think even MS are long beyond the days of running as either root or not root, with nothing in between.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: Root kit

            Me thinks that you doth giveith our dear friends at Redmond just a tad too much credit in this regurad.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Root kit

              Me thinks that you doth giveith our dear friends at Redmond just a tad too much credit in this regurad.

              For instance, if you are writing device drivers, you have to digitally sign them so that Windows will allow them to run with the require privileges:

              https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/dashboard/get-a-code-signing-certificate

              Code signing isn't exactly a new idea, for example, it has been built into .NET for a number of years.

              This is to say nothing about the virtue, or otherwise, of Microsoft's business practices (past and present), but structurally, I think their code is pretty solid.

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Root kit

          They're not allowing dodgy programs to run, viz KB3086255 which removed the ability for crap SecuROM games to run in Windows 8 and higher some time ago.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where in the article does it state that the anti cheat code is from MS?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What???

    "the team isn't keen on releasing something likely to blow up in the user's face."

    When has they ever stopped them with windows 10?

  9. bpfh Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Not like this is a new thing.

    I cannot find the intial technical article, probably long gone and/or buried in one of Microsoft's blogs, but I did dig up these three, talking about the Windows 95 era:

    - Windows 95 detected if SimCity was running, and then ran the memory allocator in SimCity compatibility mode to ensure that the app did not crash the protected memory model due to a memory allocation bug in the game: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/05/24/strategy-letter-ii-chicken-and-egg-problems/

    - Why Windows 95 never displayed a compatibility error to request an upgrade for this: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20050728-16/?p=34783

    - Windows 95 shipped without a laptop battery power limitation trick because specific laptops from a specific big name manufacturer at the time would lock up if you used it (and also another system would crash if your graphics card was too far away from the power supply on the local bus): https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20030828-00/?p=42753

    For these cases, the issue was that there was software and hardware with known faults that would bring down the system, and in general the customer experience would be "this bloody operating system is so crap, it can't even run apps that it used to run before the upgrade"... and given that when '95 came out, internet was in it's infancy, telling a client to "navigage" to a "website" and "download" a "patch" would incomprehensible be for the vast majority of users at that time, who went out to real physical shops and bought software on diskettes and CD's. Remember this was the time when Windows 95 was sold on a ton of diskettes (between 13 and 40 depending on your release version), so finding that there may have been a windows bug - or a discovered undocumented feature - that allowed some software to possibly do somthing that worked could well have been broken after a bugfix or a change in the internal API's, bringing down the app that used or exploited it, and again, this would be taken as Microsoft's fault because their working game broke, when actually it could be the game playing fast and loose with the specs, and now Microsoft wants that module (which could be a common module used across several game engines) to be fixed to avoid the hassle of SimCity hacks in the kernel, especially now that everyone has Internet, and these patches can be distributed as and when needed, avoiding Windows having to develop nasty compatibility workarounds.

  10. paulll Bronze badge

    If Microsoft weren't bound-up in using one business unit to protect the interests of another business unit (ie OS vs Games) (there's a word for that), they'd be deliberately borking all anti-cheat software. It's a security nightmare. Poorly-written, poorly-tested crap that has absolutely no business poking around the innards of people's systems.

    Games publishers aren't going to do anything about the problems these packages present because as well as wanting to be seen to do something, outsourcing the effort redirects the considerable bile that unleashed when the efforts fail. The user has very little knowledge or choice, and no direct recourse against the authors of software that messes with their systems. So anti-cheat vendors are operating with impunity in a fetid little microcosm where nobody *really* wants them although lots of people think they *ought* to have them, and nobody does anything when they screw up.

  11. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    other anti-cheat problem

    What's been one of the major problems with Anti-Cheat systems is they often incorrectly detect running a game under Wine as using cheat software, and kill the game, or at least kill the performance. (that's not counting the games where they're just too stupid to design the game right in the first place).

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