Microsoft Intros New DRM System, PlayReady

Feb 13th, 2007 | By | Category: Digital Music, Digital Video Downloads, Video

While Apple is calling for an end to DRM, and some record labels are considering distributing digital music without DRM, Microsoft is introducing a new DRM technology.

Microsoft PlayReady is designed to enable a broad spectrum of business models such as subscription, rental, pay-per-view, preview and super-distribution, which can be applied to many digital content types and a wide range of audio and video formats. Content types supported include music, video, games, ring tones and images. Audio/video formats supported include Windows Media Audio ( WMA ), AAC/AAC+/HE-AAC, Windows Media Video ( WMV ), and H.264. Microsoft PlayReady is designed to make it easier for people to move content between devices, making DRM’d content less restrictive. This technology will be available in the first half of 2007 for handset and device implementation.

Microsoft may have a hard time selling the new technology, though, given the increase interest in DRM-free media, and the fact that the company dumped support for PlaysForSure DRM technology in its own portable media player, the Zune.

Microsoft PlayReady has been designed to be fully backward compatible with Windows Media DRM 10, allowing devices that support Microsoft PlayReady to access content using Windows Media DRM. Microsoft will also provide an interoperability program so content may flow to qualifying DRM and content protection technologies.

“Our wireless partners worldwide asked for a single system to power a growing array of business models and consumer scenarios — the result is Microsoft PlayReady,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Consumer Media Technology group at Microsoft. “With consumer demand for digital goods of all types growing exponentially, this technology delivers a foundation for the future and accelerates the transparent delivery of rich content to consumers.”

“We believe Microsoft PlayReady technology will accelerate deployment this year of many services that carriers see as important for the next generation of wireless communications,” said Jim Ryan, vice president of data services at Cingular Wireless, now the new AT&T. “Microsoft’s digital media expertise and its balance between the needs of the carriers and the interest of consumers is a very positive step for the delivery of mobile entertainment.”

“Working closely with Microsoft has provided us with an advantage in the marketplace over the years, and added significantly to our customers’ experience in the multimedia world,” said Jim Straight, Verizon Wireless vice president of data services. “Microsoft PlayReady technology will help us usher in a new era of mobile digital media in a seamless, flexible manner that our consumers demand.”

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