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Microsoft sets sights on DRM market

Microsoft believes secure computing depends on digital rights management (DRM) and the company expects to get a good grip on the market, according to chief executive officer Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer revealed in an e-mail sent to subscribers of a periodic executive update  that Microsoft saw DRM as a crucial piece of its initiatives.

"Microsoft has invested more than $250m to date in rights management technologies, and we have substantial efforts to enable a new generation of rights management that will protect a broad range of personal and commercial digital content," Ballmer wrote.

DRM promises to be an increasingly lucrative market as more digital content becomes available and more content providers demand that their works be protected.

In addition to content such as music and movies that are ripe candidates for DRM technologies, Microsoft saw corporate content such as e-mail and internal documents as other realms where DRM technologies will take hold.

"Anyone who uses a personal computer for word processing, e-mail, data analysis or other common purposes is creating digital content - content that if unprotected might be misused by others," Ballmer wrote.

Microsoft's flagship DRM technology is its Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) tool which delivers music, media and other content online.

The Windows Media DRM was first released in 1999 and Ballmer's e-mail detailed how the company has a line of new DRM products up its sleeve, including Microsoft Windows Rights Management Services, a security service for Windows Server 2003, due out later this year.

Ballmer said Microsoft was partnering with a wide range of content providers and industry suppliers to grab hold of the market, adding that DRM is a crucial part of the company's Trustworthy Computing strategy.


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