The developer of the Ultra HD Blu-ray (UHD) ripping application MakeMKV, appears to be working on a tool that makes it easy to convert an ‘official’ UHD Blu-ray drive to a ‘friendly’ UHD Blu-ray drive. Currently this can be done by following rather lengthy technical guides. The tool from the MakeMKV developer should make it easy for everyone.
So-called UHD Blu-ray ‘friendly’ drives make use of a loophole in AACS 2.0. This makes it possible to use the drives to rip UHD Blu-ray movies. There are also so-called ‘official’ UHD Blu-ray drives. These adhere to the AACS 2.0 specifications and can therefore be used with official UHD Blu-ray playback software like PowerDVD. This is not possible to with the ‘friendly’ drives.
The difference between ‘friendly’ and ‘official’ drives is only in the firmware, the hardware is 100% identical. Therefore, users look for ways to flash UHD Blu-ray ‘official’ drives to UHD Blu-ray ‘friendly’. Drive manufacturers prevent that in their firmware upgrade tools, therefore custom, third-party tools are required to ‘downgrade’ the firmware from ‘official’ to ‘friendly’.
Also, drive manufacturers are currently closing the AACS 2.0 loophole. They’ve released firmware upgrades that convert ‘friendly’ drives to ‘official’. That means ignorant users who dutifully flash the firmware of their Ultra HD Blu-ray drive to the latest version, lose the ability to rip Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Flashing back to a ‘friendly’ drive means following lengthy guides with many steps to follow. This can scare less tech savvy users.
Therefore, it’s clear that if someone wants to give users full control over their drive and allow them to use it either as ‘official’ or ‘friendly’, an easy to use tool needs to be released. And this is exactly what the developer of MakeMKV seems to hint at.
On the MakeMKV forum he replies to someone who posted an ‘official’ to ‘friendly’ drive conversion guide, “I would only recommend following this guide only if you really understand what you are doing. The reason — additional information and tools would be announced in near future that would make the process easier and fool-proof.”
The developer further writes hints that the tool will work on all platforms, uses open-source tools and makes it possible to both upgrade and downgrade firmware (thus from ‘official’ to ‘friendly’ and vice versa).