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Silverlight swallows off-line DRM pill

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The next version of Microsoft's Silverlight will cozy up to media giants with out-of-browser digital rights management (DRM).

Microsoft said Tuesday it will provide a preview demonstration Silverlight 4.0 this weekend that will feature DRM for content delivered offline and that is powered by its PlayReady technology.

The company said in a statement the feature would: "Enable movie studios and retailers to provide the same rich interactive experiences via digital copy and Internet distribution as consumers get with DVD or Blu-ray."

Silverlight 4 will let studios offer network-delivered updates, special offers, and live events, Microsoft said.

It sounds like Silverlight 4 will protect streamed entertainment in addition to letting the player run protected DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

Silverlight 4 will also support native multicast support, which Microsoft said it planned to preview at the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Multicast enables the broadcast of a signal simultaneously to different receivers. The company did not give a date for when Silverlight 4 will be released.

DRM and multicast will be designed to woo film studios and broadcasters and convince more of them to build and deliver content using its challenger to Adobe Systems' Flash. Those who've signed up to Silverglight in the past include last year's NBC Beijing Olympics and Netflix, although the latter has suffered glitches and slow streaming.

Microsoft also said Tuesday that it has released the IIS Media Services 3.0 and tools, for HTTP-based streaming of content.

Also, Microsoft's released its IIS Smooth Streaming Transport Protocol and the Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) specification under its Community Promise. Smooth Streaming lets Silverlight adapt to the bandwidth on a network to minimize the break down in reception for the viewer. PIFF is a file format to deliver and playback multimedia content.

The Community Promise is Microsoft's pledge not to assert any patent claims it might own against those selling or distributing an implementation of a Microsoft technology. Microsoft's C# language specification also covered by the promise.

"In publishing PIFF and the IIS Smooth Streaming Transport Protocol, Microsoft intends to promote industry adoption of a video format optimized for internet delivery, interoperable among a wide range of consumer devices, and openly available for use by all publishers to enable secure distribution and playback of high-value video," the company said in a statement. ®

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