Ballmer: Security Tops Microsofts Priority List

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-10-09 Print this article Print

At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference, CEO Steve Ballmer details what the company is doing to improve security.

NEW ORLEANS—Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday moved to show the thousands of partners attending its Worldwide Partner Conference here that the software titan does take security seriously and is actively working on ways to improve it. In his keynote address, titled "Partnership, Innovation and Customer Focus," Ballmer said there are times in any companys existence when it has to stand back and listen and then regard those as defining moments in its evolution. The current security crisis is one of those defining moments, he said.
"Our whole industry is threatened by peoples fear to do new things because of security issues. Our action items include improving the patching experience, providing guidance and training, mitigating vulnerabilities without patches and continuing improving quality," he said.
Ballmer acknowledged that the number of patches is proliferating, the time to exploit the vulnerabilities is decreasing, the exploits are becoming more sophisticated and the current approach is not sufficient. "Security is our No. 1 priority, but there is no silver bullet in this regard," he said. Ballmer said he wishes the security researchers "would be quiet as that would be better for the world." But that wont happen, he added. "We are trying to work with them on how and when they disclose their information." Microsoft will improve the patching experience for all products from Windows 2000 onward by next May. These changes include moving to a single patching experience across Windows and all application products. The company will also move to better quality patches and ensure rollback capabilities for all patches. In addition, its Delta patching system will enable patches to be between 30 percent and 80 percent smaller. Downtime will also be reduced, with up to 30 percent less reboots, and the company will extend automation through a new update mechanism known as Microsoft Update, which will be a single point for this, Ballmer said, the only statement in his address to garner applause. Next page: Updating the Update Server

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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