On the eve of its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2004 trade show, Microsoft announced a sweeping set of changes to its digital rights management (DRM) technology that allow online services to provide subscription-based content to users which can be transferred to portable devices.
The technology, codenamed Janus, will let online music stores and other e-Commerce sites offer music, videos and other digital media content for subscription rather than purchase, content that can then be transferred to portable audio and video devices. When the subscription lapses, the content stops playing on the devices, Microsoft said.
"At the moment the current subscription models that are out there are so hobbled by the fact that they cannot be taken away from the computer," a Microsoft spokesperson said. Device makers are prepping new devices, to be released in the next two to three months, which will take advantage of the technology.
The Janus technologies will further differentiate Windows Media-based online music stores from standard purchase-oriented stores such as Apple iTunes. Companies such as America Online (AOL), Walt Disney, and Napster will implement Janus in future online services, Microsoft says.