BARCELONA, Spain — Feb. 11, 2008 — Today at Mobile World Congress 2008, Weather Investments SpA and Microsoft Corp. announced a new relationship focused on the deployment of Microsoft PlayReady technology to enable next-generation mobile entertainment services in Weather telecom companies: Wind Italy, Wind Greece and the Orascom Telecom Holding group in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. PlayReady is a new content access technology from Microsoft that provides Weather companies with a high level of flexibility to address the differences in business models from country to country and to meet local market needs. Wind (Rome) and LINKdotNET (Cairo) will work together with Microsoft to define the evolution of the existing services to incorporate the new business models enabled by PlayReady.
“PlayReady enables us to greatly enhance the entertainment services we offer to all our customers,” said Khaled Bichara, chief operating officer of Wind Italy. “The group’s service offerings span from Italy and Greece to the Middle East and Africa, which requires us to be able to address specific market behaviors in order to keep our leading position. PlayReady will allow us to achieve the required level of flexibility while bringing to the market new business models and scenarios around mobile music, video and games.”
Microsoft PlayReady is designed for digital entertainment services, devices and applications, with a specific focus on meeting the needs of the mobile industry, from operators and service providers to device manufacturers. The technology supports a range of business models that can be applied to almost any type of digital content (music, video, games, ringtones, images and more) and a wide range of audio and video formats (including AAC, AAC+, Enhanced AAC+, H.264, Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV)). PlayReady also provides features, such as service domains and embedded licenses, specifically designed to make it easy for consumers to enjoy content on all their registered devices, and back up their content just as easily as they back up any other file.
Weather Investments is the holding company of Orascom Telecom Holding, Wind Italy and Wind Greece, and has a customer base of more than 100 million users across nine countries. In addition, Weather is the major digital music provider, via Mazika.com, in the Arabic market, with more than 90 percent market share and a complete coverage of Arabic music production.
“Weather Investments’ selection of PlayReady truly highlights the flexibility of the technology, in that it can support a range of diverse mobile entertainment market needs across a wide base of geographies,” said Chadd Knowlton, general manager of the Content Access and Protection Group at Microsoft. “The focus of our collaboration, spanning music, video and gaming content, is to foster the transformation of the consumer entertainment experience in those markets. We’re excited to work with Weather Investment companies to help bring these benefits to millions of their customers.”
Microsoft released the PlayReady Client Porting Kit for mobile devices in August 2007, and expects the first services using Microsoft PlayReady technology to appear in the second half of 2008. In addition, Microsoft has designed PlayReady to be backward-compatible with Windows Media DRM 10, which means that devices supporting PlayReady can access existing Windows Media DRM-based content as well as new PlayReady content services.
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