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Ballmer Promotes Digital Rights Management

Microsoft put a new emphasis on Digital Rights Management technologies, such as the service planned as an add-on for Windows Server 2003, on Wednesday night with an e-mail to customers from company CEO Steve Ballmer.

The e-mail, with the subject line "Rights Management: Enabling New Opportunities for Customers," is one of the series of occasional executive e-mails that have been the primary forum for communications to customers about strategic initiatives, such as Trustworthy Computing.

While arguing that Microsoft has invested $250 million in rights management technologies and has been distributing rights management since 1999 in its Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM), Ballmer wrote that there is plenty of room for additional work. "Some of technology's potential to do even more has not been fully realized, because of concerns about illegal use of digital information, about confidentiality and about privacy."

Ballmer laid out the company's plans for Digital Rights Management in shipping or soon-to-ship products. The company will release Windows Rights Management Services for Windows Server 2003 this year. Office 2003, slated for a late summer release, will let users designate who can open a document or e-mail message and specify whether recipients can print, copy or forward the data, Ballmer said. Those features were demonstrated in Microsoft's Outlook e-mail program this week at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in New Orleans.

In his e-mail, Ballmer also promised a rights management add-on for Internet Explorer and a software development kit to help developers exploit Windows Rights Management.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.