The Redmond, Wash., software companys RMS SP1 (Rights Management Services Service Pack 1), which was first announced at the RSA security conference in February, includes a new "server lockbox" that makes it easier for companies to extend RMS protection to data managed by server applications, as well as support for networks that do not have an active Internet connection, Microsoft Corp. officials said.
Windows RMS uses authentication and encryption to protect data stored in documents, such as e-mail messages or text documents created using Microsoft Word. The technology was first introduced at the RSA Conference in 2003.
SP1 was one of a laundry list of new features previewed by Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, in a keynote speech Feb. 15 at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.
The update makes RMS more suitable for use in the enterprise, where companies are looking to use it for regulatory compliance and records management, said Jen Field, product manager for the RMS team at Microsoft.
At the heart of SP1, the server lockbox feature improves server APIs in RMS Version 1.0, so that multithreaded network applications can use RMS to protect documents without affecting performance, Field said.
SP1 also supports multifactor authentication technology, such as smart cards, so that administrators can tie access to RMS-protected documents to smart cards and other security tokens used to log into Windows, she said.
Responding to customer demand, Microsoft also changed RMS so that it can work in so-called "air gap" networks that do not have a connection to the Internet. Previous versions of RMS required access to the Internet and to Microsofts servers to validate the credentials of RMS-protected machines each time a new user attempted to use an RMS client.
Many customers were uncomfortable with the requirement of an "always-on" Internet connection, and now the same check can be validated offline using code provided in the update, Field said.
RMS SP1 is available for download from Microsofts Web site for customers using Windows Server 2003 and the Windows 2000 or XP client software.