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By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2002-07-29 Print this article Print

: How Palladium Works"> Palladium is Microsofts name for a set of security enhancements to Windows. It is designed to run on machines with special hardware security features, such as those built on the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance specification.

Officials said Palladium will include a TOR (Trusted Operating Root), which will act as a controller for the system and include a master certificate for each machine. The TOR will reside in a sealed portion of memory called a "trusted space" and communicate with "trusted agents," software applications capable of running on Palladium machines.

The TOR will execute only code that has been signed by an approved entity, which presumably will prevent malicious programs such as viruses and Trojan horses from running, officials said. Although Palladium enables users to load their own TOR, critics worry that this functionality will enable Microsoft to prevent users from running other operating systems or applications or playing audio or video files.

"To listen to music and watch videos, youll have to use an app thats acceptable to the Hollywood folks. That will be bound into the vanilla trust structure signed by Wintel," said Ross Anderson, head of the security group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, in Cambridge, England.

"Security always comes with a price in terms of loss of functionality. Palladium seems like a massive step backward in functionality," said WireXs Cowan. "My hope is when consumers find out that theres no more MP3 playing and no more DVD playing, theyll drop [Palladium] like a hot rock and run backward to their old systems."

Microsoft officials said they intend to make Palladium an open platform and that users ultimately will be responsible for choosing whether to use Palladium features on their machines.

"We want to make our solution broadly attractive to customers," said Alan Geller, group program manager for Palladium. Microsoft plans to deliver a detailed road map, but no ship date, for Palladium by years end and will have a software developers kit in 12 months, Geller said. The technology will ship in a future Windows release. Microsofts key hardware partners for Palladium, Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., are working on the chip set and cryptographic coprocessor for the system, officials said.

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  • Microsoft Shelled Out Millions on Security
  • Microsofts Palladium: A New Security Initiative (Extreme Tech)
  • Interview: Trusting in Microsoft


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