Microsoft Corp. is pushing further into digital rights management with a plan for a DRM server due to go into beta testing later this year.
DRM technology enables content creators, such as record companies, to encrypt content and define who can decrypt it and how they can use it. Microsoft is counting on increasing adoption of the technology to help drive demand for many of its current and future products.
The company currently offers a DRM system, Microsoft Windows Media Rights Manager, which is being used by seven music and video subscription services. But its fate, once the DRM server is released, is not clear, as Microsoft sees a broader opportunity for the DRM server solution.
"Personal information such as medical and financial data; corporate information such as legal and business documents; and commercial content such as software, music and movies may all require DRM," said a Microsoft spokeswoman, in Redmond, Wash.
Other company officials are positioning the DRM server as an attempt to define read and write privileges more broadly than they are currently defined.
Bill Veghte, corporate vice president for the Windows .Net Server group, last week said that there are several "services" Microsoft will layer on top of Windows .Net Server 2003, as they will not be ready when the platform is released to manufacturing this year.
Microsofts goal is to find a way to incorporate a set of interfaces around DRM and its real-time communications server—code-named Greenwich—into the platform while still being able to develop and charge for solutions or services built on top of that.
This base code is likely to be made available to volume licensing customers on Microsofts regularly updated Select CD. Users who want DRM services could then layer this capability on top of any of the Windows .Net Server 2003 releases they want, Veghte said.