Palladium Talk Riles OEMs

Microsoft's latest security plan is being met with skepticism in the industry.

Microsoft Corp.s latest security plan is being met with skepticism in the industry. The Redmond, Wash., company last week revealed details of a new security initiative, code-named Palladium, thats designed to boost security for companies and consumers that use the Internet.

However, while Microsoft portrayed itself as having to prod hardware companies to develop complementary technology to support its applications, top PC and processor makers alike rejected Microsofts claims, arguing that development along these lines has been under way for some time.

"Is it political posturing to make up for some embarrassing things that have happened to some of their products, or is it truly an awakening, a realization that this is an issue thats not going to go away, and they have the market strength and the bully pulpit to really try to do something?" asked Robert Reeder, vice president of information and communications services for Alaska Airlines, in Seattle. "If thats their focus, Im all for it."

Officials at Microsoft—which earlier this year announced a separate security initiative called Trustworthy Computing—said the company is looking at implementing new security measures, such as computer identification and high-level encryption, in future operating systems, possibly as early as 2004.

But in several ways, Palladium mirrors the goals of the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, an industry group that was formed in 1999 by Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp. and Microsoft. The TCPA comprises 180 companies working on software and hardware challenges for improved security.

While an IBM representative confirmed that Microsoft has approached the Armonk, N.Y., company about making security-specific hardware enhancements to support Palladium, he added that IBM has already been working on similar solutions.

"IBM really sees this as an evolutionary step in the work that we and the TCPA have already been doing in PC security since 1999," said the IBM representative, who did not want to be identified. "Many of these features they are discussing—authentication, data security and encryption—are already available in some kind of form and with the TCPA 1.1 standard."

Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., agreed.

"We have long been looking at hardware components and considering ways to boost security there," said Intel spokesman Daven Oswalt.

Microsoft officials said Palladium complements the TCPAs standard.

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