Content Unbound: Microsoft Announces Portable Media DRM3 May, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner
Microsoft today unveiled the latest version of its Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) software and announced that the Walt Disney Co., Movielink and Cinemanow are expected to be among the first adopters for the platform.
Key to the new DRM technology is portability. One of the music industry's biggest hurdles once it began offering legal downloads was the inability to convert the purchased media to other formats or platforms, which limited how consumers could use it.
Movielink upgraded its service late last year so its customers could watch without being online, and Cinemanow recently introduced download-to-burn movies from the Image Entertainment catalog. But the content was still tethered to the device to which it was downloaded.
The new platform will let consumers transfer subscription-based or on-demand digital music and video beyond just PCs to Windows-based devices, including portable audio, Microsoft's Portable Media Centers (expected in stores by the holidays), cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) such as Pocket PCs and Smartphones, and networked devices within homes.
“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, SVP 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.”
Also supporting the new DRM technology are budget hardware makers like Alienware Corp., Creative and Dell.
The new version of Windows Media DRM will offer “license chaining” to make it easier to renew licenses and support for secure time clocks and metering to offer subscription content to portable devices for transfer and playback for the first time.
“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, VP of broadband, music, games and entertainment products for America Online, which has also embraced the new DRM.
“Our goal has always been to offer music fans the widest range of options to experience leading content in the highest quality possible,” he added. “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.”