Media Player on The Fly with ‘Janus’ DRM

Microsoft’s two-headed Janus DRM technology is ready for prime time and the software giant has wasted no time integrating it into a revamped version of its flagship Windows Media Player (WMP).

Janus, which marries Windows Media DRM for Portable Devices and Windows Media DRM for Network Devices, is a key addition to the new WMP 10, which was released as a technical beta on Wednesday. It is part of Redmond’s mission to extend the reach of Windows Media onto non-competing portable devices and home entertainment networks.

With the integration of Janus to the revamped WMP 10, Microsoft has added support for premium, DRM-protected content on a range of portable devices. “New devices will be coming that support this new DRM that enable a
“fill-it-up” model for subscription-based content,” the company said in a statement.

In Roman mythology, Janus is the god of Gateways who could see both backward and forward in time and it’s clear where Microsoft is heading with its new DRM twist. While mobile competitors rely on telco networks to push content to wireless devices, Janus will allow Microsoft to connect to portable devices via Internet-connected PCs.

The new WMP, which is expected to ship later this year, will also feature full support for the coming Portable Media Center (PMC), which can be used to power music purchases, paid subscription services, movie rentals, ring-tone sales and file metering.

With Windows Media Player 10, all the digital media data types that are supported on the PMC can be automatically synched to that device via Auto Sync, including entire music libraries, photos, music videos, Photo Stories and home videos, recorded television, Movie Maker files.

WMP also comes with a new “Digital Media Mall” that offers a choice on online stores to download, rent or stream music and videos from within the player. Microsoft has also added support for a range of portable music players and new Portable Media Center devices that will be available later this year.

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