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MS to unveil digital music delivery system next month

MP3-killer music format plus rights management software to be integrated into Windows 2000

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Microsoft has confirmed it is to build a complete digital content encryption, management and tracking system into Windows 2000, and that it plans to unveiled the technology at next month's Audisee 99 show to be held in Los Angeles. The system will be primarily aimed at the Internet-delivered music market and the emerging for Net-based video on demand services. It will be based on the company's MS Audio 4.0 digital music format, which is said to offer twice the compression of MP3 and better playback quality, and technology from digital rights management tools developer Reciprocal, in which it last month made a massive $15 million investment. The complete system will provide an all-in-one solution handling every aspect of a content delivery system, managing not only the distribution of digital media, but ensuring that rights are not infringed and controlling the e-commerce activity behind the transactions. Microsoft's plans, reported yesterday by Wired, confirms reports made by The Register earlier this year (see Microsoft readies MP3-killer digital music format and MS to spend $15 million buying into online music market). In the Wired story, Scott Smith, president of digital delivery specialist Digital On-Demand, warned that Microsoft may use its all-in-one solution to push other technologies out of the picture. However, the Secure Digital Music Initiative's attempt to unify the various digital music formats and delivery mechanisms now seems unlikely to favour one offering over another, provided they meet its specification for copyright protection. More pertinently, according to Register readers who claim to have evaluated beta versions of the software, Microsoft's MS Audio 4.0 isn't quite as good as the company is suggesting. Still, the Microsoft names carries weight and it's hard to imagine (pace the DoJ) the Great Satan of Software not pursuing the very lucrative digital content market aggressively. ®

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