Microsoft's Windows Rights Management (WRM) services, designed to restrict access to sensitive information, could leave users locked into Microsoft, according to AMR Research.
The software giant plans to introduce the new technology in Office 2003. WRM restricts access to data in Windows applications, giving users greater control over sensitive information.
But Scott Lundstrom, senior vice president and chief technology officer at AMR Research, warned that protecting data in this way could lead to a Microsoft lock-in across many applications.
"Imagine a world where, in order to be accessible, protected information must be created in Microsoft Office, distributed in Outlook and supported by Microsoft web and directory servers," he said.
"It just looks like another major headache for already overburdened infrastructure managers. It is even more damning than Internet Explorer-only browser tags and Internet Information Server-specific scripting."
Lundstrom's views are based on Microsoft's recent white paper, entitled Windows Server 2003 Rights Management, described as 'Persistent Policy Expression and Enforcement for Digital Information.'
He believes that it is the open source community which would best serve the issue of digital rights management.
"It must be open and not favour one technology," explained Lundstrom.
"Few customers have the ability to dictate to their partners over the exchange of information. To be open is more important than being secure.
"I don't think customers are foolish enough to lock into one vendor and run their business on a single platform."
But Stuart Okin, chief security officer at Microsoft UK, denied that the company is aiming for lock-in.
"An important aspect of the software developer kit will be the ability to write rights management services for non-Microsoft technology so there is no Microsoft lock-in," he said.
"It is also based on the emerging XRML open standard. We don't have a business model to lock people in. There is nothing to stop developers taking XRML certificates and building their own applications.
"We make no apology for having a competitive advantage as we are the first to come to market. We will work with early developers to ease implementation issues with regard to upgrade and migration."
Okin indicated that the technology is likely to be adopted inside enterprises, before moving to suppliers and wider internet adoption.
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