Microsoft to Get More Control of the PC?

A new security platform, whose development is lead by Microsoft, could end up giving the company and its partners control of users' PCs and apps, critics say. Microsoft is to announce the first piece of the Secure Computing Base, Nexus, at WinHEC Tu

Lock with PC
When Microsoft Corp. raises the curtain on the first piece of its Next-Generation Secure Computing Base for Windows technology this week, company executives said it will mark the beginning of a fundamental shift in the architecture of the PC and the way users interact with their machines.

While it could take years to test that theory, security experts, researchers and potential customers say the architecture in its current form leaves much to be desired and may be more useful to Microsoft and its partners than to users.

Microsoft plans to demonstrate Nexus, the software module that is the heart of the NGSCB architecture, formerly code-named Palladium, this week at the companys in New Orleans. Nexus functions as a separate operating system kernel, controlling the way a PC interacts with Nexus-aware applications, hardware and memory. To run in secure mode on an NGSCB-enabled machine, an application will have to be trusted by Nexus.

Microsoft has Nexus up and running, although it doesnt currently have all the security features enabled, said company officials in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft has also developed several small Nexus-aware applications it will demonstrate at the show. Nexus will run in parallel with the normal operating system and will, theoretically, prevent rogue applications and processes from running on the machine.

Another major part of the system will be the Security Support Component, a hardware module that will handle cryptographic operations and store the crypto keys used by Nexus.