Microsoft, Disney partner on digital media delivery; Disney licenses Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM

“Microsoft and the Walt Disney Co. have struck an alliance that will see the two companies working closely together to develop digital media content and delivery systems, the companies said Monday,” John Borland reports for CNET “While containing little in the way of specifics, the deal does solidify one of the software giant’s key Hollywood relationships, which it views as critical to the future of its audio and video software platform. A Microsoft executive said the two companies would be working increasingly close together on topics ranging from high-definition film to digital rights management.”

“‘This is really designed so that we will cooperate on digital media initiatives and accelerate the flow of digital content to consumers,’ said Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft’s Digital Media division. ‘It builds a great bridge between the technology companies and Hollywood,'” Borland reports. “Under the announced terms of the alliance, Disney will take a non-exclusive license to use Microsoft’s Windows Media digital rights management software. The companies did not say exactly where Disney might use the technology, or how soon any such use might develop.”

“The companies said they would also work together to develop and deliver secure content, and help develop technology that lets different devices throughout the home access secure digital entertainment files,” Borland reports. “News of the alliance comes just a few days after one of Microsoft’s biggest rivals in the technology world, Apple Computer and Pixar Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, openly broke with Disney after months of contract negations. Jobs said that Pixar would seek a new distribution partner for its animated films, declaring on a conference call with investors that ‘Not even Disney’s marketing and brand could turn Disney’s last two animated films into successes. Both bombed at the box office.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Does Disney really want to shackle itself to Microsoft or does Eisner want to somehow get back at Steve Jobs for taking Pixar off Disney’s plate?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Steve Jobs blasts Disney during Pixar conference call – February 04, 2004
Film Exec: if Eisner’s out ‘Steve Jobs could now be a candidate to run Disney’ – January 30, 2004
Pixar shares rise, Disney falls after film distribution deal breakup – January 30, 2004
Studios suitors ‘falling all over themselves’ to woo Steve Jobs’ Pixar – January 30, 2004
Pixar dumps Disney; Steve Jobs: ‘we’re moving on’ – January 29, 2004
Disney who? Steve Jobs rides a rocket named Pixar – August 08, 2003
Steve Jobs’ Pixar about to put the hurt on Disney – February 04, 2003


  1. Steve blew it. He may have been dumping hundreds of unearned Pixar dollars into Disney, but he had the mouse by the tail. Now he’s given MSFT DRM it’s first seriously tangible and highly public entrenchment.

    Boo, Steve, boo!

  2. I kind of agree with Mikky. This looks to be a whole Steve’s hot temper messing something up, and Microsoft coming in to take advantage. Disney is huge and that is a big ally to have when you trying to form a new digital distribution chain.

    It would be nice to see Apple change to meet this new demand at some point. Maybe becoming Apple Inc. instead of Apple Computer Inc. With Pixar and whoever they partner with and Apple tech we still might have a chance at a Microsoft free future in this industry. But it is looking less and less likely.

    I’m sad.

  3. Rob is right. I think the most interesting sentence above is: “The companies did not say exactly where Disney might use the technology, or how soon any such use might develop.”

    Look, the above article says nothing about distribution. Movies-by-internet isn’t going to supplant the DVD, and the Windows Media Center has been a complete failure so far. This is a FUD gain for Microsoft, nothing more.

    And if Eisner does get ousted, the new CEO will get vengeance, thanks to Roy Disney and his new bestest buddy, Steve Jobs.

  4. The timing of this announcement really does sound like sour grapes to me. Pixar dumps Disney so Disney announces it is to use M$ DRM. So what, let them use it – it wont make their films any better nor improve their bottom line.

  5. What gets me these company’s don’t know what they can do with each other. I find it funny … hey we always knew Windows was a Mickey Mouse operating system and it’s just been confirmed.

  6. Who did you expect them to partner with, RealNetworks?
    I can see it right now, Disney World will become a Microsoft Media Showcase. Nobody will be able to use the rides as the controlling software keeps crashing and falling prey to Virus Attack.

  7. Even though I don’t encourage “the finger,” JadisOne has an excellent point. Steve sees where Disney is going so he got out before the crap hit the fan. With Pixar having a hit after hit pictures, Steve is saying, “that’s nice but I have the golden goose.”

  8. Eisner is poisoning the water so Steve will not want to have anything to do with Disney. He’s just protecting himself, not Disney.
    Steve, on the other hand, does a good job (no pun intended) of keeping the needs of both company’s separate. When he’s wearing his Pixar CEO hat, he’s not thinking how it will benefit Apple. That’s as it should be.

    Time to take my kids to visit Yesterday Land.

  9. This is just a logical progression for Disney. They have been moving over to Windows in most of their products for ages. Their DVDs have Windows-only extras, ToonTown is Windows-only, even a large chunk of their websites don’t display properly unless you use IE on Windows. All this just backs up the blatently obvious about the company. The creative people are no longer in charge. The accountants make all the decisions.

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