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3GSM 2007: Microsoft shows off mobile DRM

Microsoft is making a flurry of announcements at 3GSM this year; could a Zune Phone be the ultimate plan?

Microsoft has revealed details of its new digital rights management system at 3GSM in Barcelona. Called PlayReady, it's the successor to the older PlaysForSure technology that is being slowly retired from service.

It's the second big announcement that Microsoft has made in Barcelona this week, following on from the launch of Windows Mobile 6 yesterday.

This new DRM system is basically a new multimedia content access technology, optimised to manage digital content on wireless mobile devices. So it's a new way of delivering and copy protecting digital media such as music and video downloaded via the web.

Microsoft says that PlayReady was created in close collaboration with companies in the mobile industry. This seems to have directly resulted in the technology supporting future mobile services such as subscriptions, rentals, pay-per-views, previews and super-distribution, which can be applied to many digital content types and a wide range of audio and video formats.

Leading mobile operators worldwide, including O2 here in the UK, are today indicating plans to implement Microsoft PlayReady technology into their services.

PlayReady is clearly aimed towards the mobile phone industry more than anything else and, what with yesterday's Windows Mobile 6 launch, it's clear that Microsoft is putting more effort into developing mobile technologies.

"Microsoft's PlayReady technology will help accelerate deployment of our entertainment services, which we see growing in importance for consumers this year," said Russ Shaw at O2 in the 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."

This new emphasis backs-up the rumours that Microsoft is planning to unveil plans to release a Zune phone in the near future. It would certainly make sense; Microsoft is pushing Windows Mobile as a viable mobile OS and, with this new digital rights management system showing more growth in the mobile sector, it would make perfect sense for the company to go ahead and launch a phone of its own.

James Rivington

James has been working with TechRadar for over 12 years and is now the Global Editor-in-Chief of eCommerce at TR and its sister sites including PC Gamer and That means he looks after buying guides and deals pages as well as all of the nifty price comparison tools we use to help readers find the best deals on the coolest products.