Irish startup takes over Microsoft's code-protection scheme

By , IDG News Service |  Development, copyright, drm

An Irish startup has taken over Microsoft's Software Licensing and Protection Services, a service to help independent software vendors protect their code and reduce software piracy.

Microsoft's SLP Services were part of the company's Windows protection group, but will now be run by Inish Technology Ventures, said Aidan Gallagher, CEO and co-founder of the Dublin-based company. Microsoft will own a minority stake.

InishTech is seeking to make it simpler for ISVs to protect their code. Typically, companies have built their own systems for licensing and activating software, but those systems must be updated periodically, which costs companies money, Gallagher said.

The company has licensed Microsoft patents for software protection technology that makes it harder for people to decompile code written in Microsoft's .Net framework. It uses cryptographic algorithms to obfuscate code so that it is more difficult to reverse engineer, Gallagher said.

InishTech's SLP Code Protector takes DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries) and compiles them into a format called Secure Virtual Machine Language (SVML). Functions in the SVML format appear like MSIL (Microsoft Intermediate Language) ones but are harder to reverse engineer. SVML functions are compatible with the .Net platform.

The technology also allows ISVs to insert "license points," or bits of code that authorized certain functions of the software according to their clients' requirements, Gallagher said.

InishTech's software protection services can either be used as a Web-based subscription service or through an on-premise server. The service starts off at $25 per month for three applications, Gallagher said.

The company will also offer versions for larger ISVs, he said. InishTech also activates the software for the ISV's end users. The ISV pays 1 percent of the retail price of the application per activation.

If an ISV stops paying InishTech for the service, the application will still run for that ISV's end users, Gallagher said.

Once an application has been activated and licensed it would still run for as long as the license was valid, even if the ISV went out of business, he said. If an ISV decides to stop its subscription, it can continue to sell the application by removing InishTech's technology from the code.

InishTech has taken over about 120 clients from Microsoft and will be working with ISVs worldwide, Gallagher said.

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