Microsoft: Palladium Is Still Alive and Kicking

Microsoft denies a published report that it is axing its Next Generation Secure Computing Base and insists the technology still will debut in Longhorn.

SEATTLE—Microsoft Corp. spent much of Day 2 of its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) here refuting a published report claiming the company has axed its Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) security technology.

"NGSCB is alive and kicking," said Mario Juarez, a product manager in Microsofts security and technology business unit.

NGSCB—the hardware/software security system formerly code-named "Palladium"—has been one of the most controversial components expected to debut in Longhorn, the version of Windows thats due out in 2006+.


Unlike last years WinHEC, where NGSCB received top billing, this year, its just a blip on the radar screen. In fact, there are only three sessions on the WinHEC docket specifically about NGSCB. But Microsoft is still talking up its NGSCB vision at this weeks show.

Microsoft is continuing to be vague about exactly how much of its NGSCB code will ship as part of Longhorn. Company officials have gone on record saying that customers would not be impacted by the technology until Microsoft delivered Version 2 of the NGSCB platform. The company has not provided a date for Version 2.

In spite of these facts, the plan of record continues to be to deliver Version 1 of its NGSCB technology as part of Longhorn, said Juarez.

Juarez acknowledged that Microsoft is reworking its NGSCB technologies to enable independent software vendors and customers with a way to allow their existing applications to take advantage of NGSCB without having to rewrite them. He said that customers to whom Microsoft has shown early versions of NGSCB requested this change. He added that Microsoft will provide more details on how it plans to do this some time later this year.

/zimages/6/28571.gifeWEEK Labs took a look at Microsofts NGSCB documentation and liked some of what it saw. Click here to read the analysis.

Microsoft has explained NGSCBs inner workings this way: The two foundations of NGSCB were designed to be the Trusted Platform Module on the hardware side, and the Trusted Operating Root (or "nexus") on the software side. The nexus was to be the kernel of an isolated software stack that was designed to run inside the standard Windows environment. The nexus was slated to provide a set of APIs that would enable sealed storage and other foundations for trusted-computing.

But up until this week, Microsoft had said that only applications that were designed from the ground-up to be nexus-aware would be able to take advantage of these features.

Juarez also admitted that the NGSCB team currently "did not have a managed code story." He said, "We need to go back and figure out how that will look and work."

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