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Microsoft, Disney to Collaborate on Digital Technology

9 Feb, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

An agreement between Microsoft Corp. and The Walt Disney Co. will have the companies collaborating on technology to offer secure digital delivery of movies and TV product on platforms ranging from the Internet to next-generation DVDs.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, except that Disney has licensed Microsoft Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) software on a nonexclusive basis to enable the seamless delivery of secured digital media over the next several years.

Over the past year, Disney has made several forays into alternative digital distribution, including tests of EZ-D DVDs that become unusable after about 48 hours: MovieBeam, a proprietary digital video recorder (DVR) that piggybacks on a broadcast signal to refresh movies monthly; and deals signed with online movie providers Movielink and CinemaNow.

Among the stated goals of the deal are creating ways to offer digital media that will have adequate copy protection for Disney while letting consumers listen to or view content on a variety of devices.

“Disney is dedicated to providing consumers with entertainment content on various platforms, and this agreement with Microsoft helps facilitate those new business initiatives,” said Peter Murphy, senior EVP and chief strategic officer for Disney. “The continuing migration of content from analog to digital formats has exciting implications for both consumers and content owners, and we believe this agreement will accelerate this evolution and bring about a vibrant market for legitimate, high-quality entertainment delivered to new categories of end-user devices, such as personal media players and home media center PCs.”

The agreement bolsters Microsoft's role as a key technology provider for the entertainment industry.

“With technologies now available to bring new experiences to consumers, including high-quality digital movies through a range of secure delivery methods, the time is right for a significant cooperative effort such as this one between Microsoft and Disney to help guide the industry,” said Will Poole, SVP of Windows Client Business at Microsoft. “Our shared goal is to ensure that consumers will have access to great content on many different devices — including Windows XP Media Center PCs, high-definition TVs or Portable Media Center devices — without having to worry about compatibility issues.”

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