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By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2003-05-05 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Microsoft officials resist this characterization of the system. Peter Biddle

"From a lock-in perspective, the Microsoft business model is about delighting a broad range of customers, and theyre very clear that they dont want lock-in," said Peter Biddle (pictured), product unit manager in the Security Business Unit at Microsoft. "That never was an intent. Were getting feedback from customers that if they smell a whiff of lock-in, theyre not adopting [NGSCB]." Potential users of the NGSCB system, meanwhile, are unsure whether the promised security enhancements outweigh the baggage that accompanies them.

"NGSCB is great for security, but there are costs beyond adding the encryption chip to the hardware or the added complexity of developing applications," said Lester John, assistant vice president of information security at Fleet Securities Inc., in Boston. "[If] a computer breaks and a [technician] pulls the hard drive and puts it into a new machine, the user is back in business. With a secure PC, how does this now happen?"

A vital element of Microsofts plans for NGSCB is the development of a strong, diverse set of partners. Some key vendors, including Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., have already allied themselves with Microsoft. But if a broader base of support doesnt materialize, NGSCB could die on the vine.

"If we dont get hardware, Im done," Microsofts Biddle said. "I have no business without some fundamental changes to the PC architecture. And if people dont write software that takes advantage of those changes, Im done."

Hardware vendors say customer demand will be a key driver in determining the extent to which NGSCB is featured in their machines. Manny Novoa, a security architect at HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said he expects that hardware manufacturers will initially offer versions of systems that are NGSCB-enabled and others that arent. It will be customers who decide whether they want to spend the extra money for an NGSCB-ready version of a system, Novoa said.

"I think its going to be a good couple of years of progressive rollouts before you see a critical mass" of NGSCB-enabled PCs, Novoa said.

Additional reporting by Jeffrey Burt.

(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include comments from Bill Arbaugh.)
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