Microsoft Buys Tools Vendor Winternals

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2006-07-18 Print this article Print

Updated: Microsoft snaps up a highly-rated security and data recovery tools vendor, and adds a Windows kernel guru—who exposed Sony's rootkit debacle—to its roster of technical fellows.

Microsoft on July 18 announced that it has acquired Winternals Software, which provides security, recovery and management tools for enterprises as well as a respected collection of free Windows tools on the Sysinternals site. The privately held, Austin-based company makes tools that assist in the recovery of damaged systems and lost data. Its new Protection Manager products provide greater control over privileges for users and applications than is standard in Windows.

Winternals founders Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell have been well-known authors and commentators on Windows issues for many years. Russinovich will join Microsoft as a Technical Fellow in the Platforms and Services Division. Cogswell will join the Windows Component Platform Team as a Software Architect. The two will work from Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash.
"The work [Russinovich] and Bryce have completed in system recovery and data protection illustrates the depth of thinking and skill they will bring to future versions of Windows. The addition of their deep kernel-level expertise to our existing strong talent will help provide us with the edge we need to continue to raise the quality and functionality bar for Windows on both the client and the server," said Jim Allchin, co-president of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft, in a statement.

Russinovich told that the fate of specific Winternals products is still being explored, but he said that Microsoft is definitely interested in a number of products and technologies Winternals sells. The Winternals Administrators Pack, a suite of tools for recovery and repair of damaged and otherwise inaccessible systems, is most likely to live on as a separate product, Russinovich said. Other products and technologies are likely to be integrated into other Microsoft offerings, he said.

For the time being, the free Sysinternals tools and site will remain online. Microsoft is investigating whether and how to continue development and maintenance of the tools, Russinovich said. It may integrate the site into a different Microsoft community site, such as Technet.

Russinovich late last year discovered the presence of a rootkit in digital rights management software installed on Sony BMG music CDs while testing a new version of the Sysinternals RootkitRevealer tool.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from Russinovich. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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