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Microsoft Ships Digital Rights Management For Windows 2003

Microsoft's digital rights management service for Windows Server 2003 has arrived, but version 1.0 is for internal company use only.
The Windows Rights Management Services, whose price ranges from $29 to $37 per server client access license (CAL), will allow employees to apply rights, privileges and protections to Office 2003 documents distributed within a corporate network, executives said on Monday.

With version 1.0, an author of a Word 2003 document can specify which group of users can open, modify, print and forward an Office 2003 document and under what circumstances it can be used. For instance, authors can designate a sensitive document as read-only or set an expiration date for a time-sensitive or highly confidential document.

The software--whose availability was officially announced on Tuesday--currently works with Microsoft Office 2003, the only rights management service (RMS)-enabled product in the market. The four RMS-enabled applications include Outlook 2003, Word 2003, PowerPoint 2003 and Excel 2003.

However, Microsoft plans to ship an RMS-enabled add-on for Internet Explorer for protected Web page viewing later this year, and the company is in discussions with numerous ISVs that plan to develop RMS-enabled applications, executives said.

The software is targeted at midsize enterprises and vertical segments that require high levels of confidentiality, including finance, legal, government and health-care companies. "I can see this server add on being used more so in an midmarket or enterprise environment than the SMB space," said Frederick Johnson, president of Ross-Tek, a Microsoft solution provider in Cleveland, Ohio. "Hospitals, large law firms or insurance companies could take advantage of this, but I see the biggest obstacle as not the companies making the investment to buy 2003 products, but the learning transition and willingness for their employees to do this rather than their usual way of sending confidential documents. I think this would be the biggest challenge as supposed to the availablity of the technology and its features."

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