Pondering Possible Motives
"There are several possibilities," he said. First, "theres a plan for general future use of the TPM, whether in OS X 10.5, 10.6 or later."Or, he added, "theres a plan for offering TPM use into specialized markets, such as the U.S. military."Third, "theres the possibility of TPM use directly by application software vendors, e.g. in Office 2007." Lastly, he said, "or its there in order to support dual-boot operation whereby a MacBook will also be able to run future versions of Windows Vista alongside OS X." "Quite how each of these options site with Apples traditional business model of making money on hardware, and subsidizing the development of OS X (and key apps) so that people have worthwhile software to tempt them to buy this hardware, is unclear," Anderson said. "From the viewpoint of software economics," he said, the first and third make more sense than the second and fourth. "But we will probably have to wait and see," he added. Anderson has been very critical of trusted computing initiatives in the past, noting that they have often been tied to attempts to enforce harsh DRM restrictions, such as preventing users from copying purchased media files, or preventing users from playing a CD on more than one computer. Originally, the TPM hardware was designed as a part of the concept of TC (trusted computing), which is the brainchild of the TCG (Trusted Computing Group). The group has created specifications for TPMs and their software interfaces as well as specifications for mobile devices, storage, networks and peripherals. Among the TCGs current members are Intel, AMD, Microsoft, IBM, Infineon, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Sun Microsystems. Click here to read about how the Trusted Computing Group is working on a hardware-based encryption standard for hard disks. The goal of TC was to create a hardware and software that would prevent malicious tampering of application and system software as well as to prevent computers from executing unauthorized programs, and potentially to provide a way to confirm the identities of users making purchases online. Most recently, the TCGs Storage Work Group has promoted its hardware-based encryption using TPMs for hard drives. However, many critics were skeptical of TC, partially due to Microsofts TC initiative, code-named Palladium, which was seen as a Draconian way for the company to prevent piracy of its operating system. "Palladium left a really bad taste in peoples mouths," Singh said. He said that Microsoft could not get vendor buy-in and this nearly sunk the initiative; "some people still detest the idea," Singh added. Apple representatives did not respond requests for comment from the company. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.