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Microsoft Announces New Version Of DRM

From Microsoft’s press release:

Microsoft’s next generation of Windows Media DRM technology will make new scenarios possible, such as protecting, delivering and playing subscription-based or on-demand digital music and video. These scenarios span Windows-based PCs and devices, including portable audio devices, Portable Media Centers, cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) such as Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones, and networked devices connected within the home, including those that connect over a wireless network.

The promise of how this DRM technology enables these new scenarios has already attracted support from the following companies:

  • Content companies America Online Inc., The Disney Co. and OD2
  • Service providers CinemaNow Inc., Movielink LLC, MusicNow LLC, Napster LLC, VirginMega France and Yacast
  • Consumer electronic device manufacturers Archos SA, Creative, Dell Inc., Digital 5 Inc., iRiver International, PRISMIQ Inc., PURE Digital, Rio, Samsung Electronics Company Ltd., SimpleDevices Inc. and 2Wire Inc.
  • Chip makers BridgeCo AG, Equator Technologies Inc., Imagination Technologies, Micronas, Motorola Inc., Sigma Designs Inc. and SigmaTel Inc.

There is also support for the new DRM by manufacturers of Windows Media Center Extender Technology and Windows Media Connect devices, including Alienware Corp., Creative and Dell. This new version of Windows Media DRM reinforces Microsoft’s strong commitment to the digital media marketplace supporting the company’s vision of enabling the seamless flow of music and movies for consumers while ensuring that content owners are able to build robust businesses.

“Consumers are embracing online music with a passion, as evidenced by the nearly 20 million people that visit our music sites every month streaming up to 4 million songs and videos a day,” said Alex Blum, vice president of broadband, music, games and entertainment products for AOL. “Our goal has always been to offer music fans the widest range of options to experience leading content in the highest quality possible. Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Media DRM will help us continue to take legitimate digital music offerings, particularly for our rapidly growing broadband audience, to the next level, ultimately meeting the consumer’s goal of taking purchased or rented digital songs, games and movies with them wherever they want, on any device.”

“This is a positive development in the continuing effort to provide consumers with more choices for enjoying legitimate entertainment content on emerging digital platforms,” said Bob Lambert, senior vice president of New Technology at Disney. “Consumers, content companies and technology companies stand to benefit as content continues to migrate from analog to digital devices, and Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to create robust, flexible and secure media technology will help facilitate these new experiences and business initiatives.”

With the growth in popularity of portable media players and the emerging market for networked media devices, such as digital audio receivers, content owners want to make sure that their music and movies can be enjoyed by consumers in a variety of situations while still being protected from piracy. Microsoft’s new DRM will enable a more secure yet seamless flow of content to dozens of devices, and support the widest range of purchase and rental options for digital media ever available.

“The next generation of Windows Media DRM breaks new ground for music and video services so they can offer consumers more choices and an even better experience when buying, renting or previewing premium content,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “Imagine paying a low monthly fee to fill your portable music player with thousands of songs, or renting a dozen movies to take with you on a Portable Media Center when you go on holiday, perhaps watching them as you sit on the plane, or letting your kids watch them in the back seat of the car. This kind of flexibility is what our technology is designed to enable.”

New Features of Windows Media DRM

The next version of Windows Media DRM will offer new features designed to improve the user experience and offer music and video services the flexibility to implement new business models. These features cover a range of user scenarios. For instance, license chaining makes it easier for licenses to be renewed (a direct benefit for consumers with large content libraries filled with subscription content), and support for secure time clocks and metering make it possible for services to offer subscription content to portable devices for transfer and playback for the first time. In addition, improved license synchronization and license store performance make it easier and faster for consumers to manage and access their music. Microchip and device manufacturers can implement support for next-generation Windows Media DRM today through porting kits that include ANSI C code and other tools to help them rapidly integrate these new features into any device, including portable media players, set-top boxes, mobile devices or digital media receivers. Also available is the Windows Media Rights Manager Software Development Kit (SDK), which supports the new DRM functionality being delivered on the PC and devices.

“This improved Windows Media DRM opens the door for Napster subscribers to increase their value by putting the music they’ve paid for through their subscription onto their digital players without having to pay again for each song,” said Chris Gorog, chairman and CEO of Roxio Inc., parent company of Napster. “Microsoft’s technology might be the biggest step forward in the fight against digital piracy and should catalyze the recurring revenue model for record labels and artists.”

“The next generation of Windows Media DRM technology can enhance Creative’s customer experiences both on the go and throughout the home,” said Craig McHugh, president of Creative. “Creative is already enhancing digital entertainment with support for Windows DRM across various product categories and will continue to support the next generation of Windows DRM technology this year in a variety of products.”