RealTime IT News

Microsoft Upgrades Digital Rights Management

Microsoft took the wraps of its latest Digital Rights Management software Monday, while noting that ISP AOL, media giant Disney, PC player Dell and online music site Napster are using the latest upgrades in the digital media management system.

The new DRM platform from Microsoft enables the protection, delivery and playback of subscription-based or on-demand digital music and video across a myriad of digital devices including MP3 players, Pocket PC's and cellphones.

"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 in a statement.

"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. This kind of flexibility is what our technology is designed to enable."

Microsoft's new offering includes a number of features that further enable DRM on a variety of technologies, including microchips and devices such as mobile media players, set-top boxes and digital media receivers.

The new Windows Media DRM for the first time now includes support for secure time clocks and metering. This new functionality will enable content providers to offer transfer and playback of subscription content to portable devices.

Windows Media DRM now includes two additional features that make it easier to acquire and manage the license for content. The Direct License Acquisition feature allows for direct downloads of content to devices while the new License chaining feature makes it easier for licenses to be renewed.

The new Windows Media DRM is available today to microchip and device manufacturers as a rapid integration porting kit from Microsoft as well as an SDK.

The DRM space, crucial for content providers, has continued to heat up in recent weeks. Microsoft has also been busy checking off its to-do list in the sector.

In April, for example, the company announced that it had settled a lawsuit by DRM software maker InterTrust Technologies by agreeing to pay $440 million in order to license InterTrust's patent portfolio.

Also in April, Time Warner , parent company of AOL, and Microsoft increased their investment in DRM provider Content Guard from Xerox, which helped develop the DRM technology.

also, Microsoft rival RealNetworks recently made an overture to rival iPod maker Apple Computer to form a "tactical alliance" in the digital music space, according to reports. But whether the two are on the verge of forming an alliance with Real Networks is unclear.