The company released a preview version of the Digital Broadcast Manager, software designed to allow secure downloads of audio and video content on a pay-per-use basis.
Developed for use by Web sites delivering multimedia content, the move is the latest by Microsoft to make its Windows Media Player the technology of choice for all digital multimedia sites. Thus far, the company has lagged behind competitors such as RealNetworks, whose RealPlayer dominates the market.
The new technology is designed to help digital music and video sites create pay-per-use events and content, Microsoft said, as well as to facilitate online training and courses for businesses and educational institutions. Digital Broadcast Manager converts digital content into secure multimedia files, ensures that only authorized customers can access the content, and tracks customer and product information, the company said.
"Demand for digital media e-commerce is exploding and will be as commonplace as selling traditional goods--such as books and CDs--within the next few years," Dave Fester, director of marketing for the digital media division at Microsoft, said in a statement. "The delivery of the Digital Broadcast Manager is a huge step in enabling service providers and partners to create profitable business ventures with digital media."
The developer preview was released today and will be followed by the official release sometime this year.