Microsoft PlayReady: brand new DRM for mobile devices

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microsoft.pngMicrosoft have announced that they’ve been working on yet another Digital Rights Management (DRM) system. PlayReady is a new ‘multimedia content access technology optimised to meet the needs of mobile operators and handset manufacturers for digital entertainment and commerce.’

In other words, plenty of lovely restrictions put in place to stop us evil consumers doing what we want with content downloaded to our mobile devices. Just like on a PC.

Many leading mobile operators have already signed up to include PlayReady technology, including O2.

PlayReady is the result of extended dialogue with the mobile industry, and will support a wide variety of business models, including subscription, rental, pay-per-view, preview, and super-distribution. Formats supported include WMA, AAC, WMV, and H.264.

Allegedly, “Microsoft PlayReady enhancements make it easier for consumers to move their content between their devices, giving them a new level of freedom with their digital content.” We’ll have to wait and see about that one.

PlayReady is backwards compatible with Windows Media DRM 10, and Microsoft will also provide an interoperability programme so content can be shared with other qualifying DRM and content protection technologies. Quite how these qualify remains to be seen. I wonder if Apple will get a look in (if they’re still using DRM of course)

“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. Ooh goodie – a mobile Microsoft monopoly.

“Microsoft PlayReady technology will help accelerate deployment of our entertainment services, which we see growing in importance for consumers this year,” said Russ Shaw, director of Capability and Innovation at O2 UK. “Protecting content while keeping it easily accessible by consumers is a careful balance, and Microsoft’s digital media expertise and experience is critical to making this a reality.”

Andy Merrett