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February 24, 2003--In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Touts DRM Technologies
- Microsoft Adapts Licensing 6.0 for Small Businesses
- Join The HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show!
- Windows & .NET Magazine Connections: Real-World Technical Tips Here for You
3. CONTACT US
See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
* MICROSOFT TOUTS DRM TECHNOLOGIES
Late Friday, Microsoft announced that the company will soon release a beta version of its Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies that will let Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003 users create secure documents that can't be leaked, copied, or forwarded to unauthorized individuals. Microsoft says that Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) is the result of its enterprise customers asking for a way to prevent users from leaking sensitive internal documents to the Web and competitors. The company says it will ship a beta version of RMS in the second quarter.
"Customers have told us they need better solutions to help safeguard their critical business information," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Security Business Unit. "What's really compelling about \[RMS\] technology is that it enables businesses to protect the information they most worry might leak--either deliberately or inadvertently--by putting persistent protections in the documents themselves."
The RMS platform lets developers create applications--including word processors and email clients--that can designate two primary criteria: who has access to data and what kind of access they have. RMS can control document forwarding, copying, and printing and can also create time-based expiration rules. Microsoft says that administrators can create RMS policies such as "company confidential" that prevent such documents from leaving the enterprise.
Last week, Microsoft inadvertently posted Office 2003 Beta 2 to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Subscriber Downloads Web site a few weeks ahead of schedule. This Office release includes technology called Information Rights Management (IRM) that requires access to an RMS-enabled server. IRM lets Office 2003 users protect sensitive information by applying permission rules to documents and email messages. In early tests of the technology, I transmitted protected email messages to other testers who couldn't copy them to the clipboard or forward or print them. The document protection appears to work outside the Microsoft environment as well; recipients also couldn't view protected email messages in email clients such as Mozilla. I'll provide more information about this compelling technology when I post my Office 2003 Beta 2 review in March.
* MICROSOFT ADAPTS LICENSING 6.0 FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Bowing to customer demands, Microsoft is updating its reviled Licensing 6.0 program to include an option called Open Value that makes software more affordable for small businesses. Open Value will go live on March 1, replacing the current Open Business option. The new plan lets small businesses spread software-license payments over 3 years.
Unlike most Licensing 6.0 options, Open Value allows for as few as five licenses, or "seats" in Microsoft lingo. The plan has no fixed ceiling or upper limit of licenses that users must purchase, making it an attractive option for growing and even midsized companies. Furthermore, the plan costs only about one-third of what Open Business costs over the first year, a feature that will probably be compelling to cash-strapped operations.
As with a few other Licensing 6.0 tweaks that Microsoft is working on, Open Value is a result of disappointing upgrade numbers for the company's most recent licensing scheme, which its customers largely consider to be overly expensive. An interesting side effect of the new plan is that it might help bring recalcitrant customers onboard. Although many of Microsoft's customers decided to pass on Licensing 6.0, letting the July 2002 deadline come and go, many of these companies will still be eligible for Open Value. If enough customers jump on board, Microsoft will likely see yet another jump, year-over-year, in software licenses.
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