Microsoft outlines .NET and XP privacy strategy

Declaring "war on hostile code" here on Tuesday, Microsoft Corp. detailed several new features for securing privacy in both current and future Microsoft products here at the RSA Conference 2001.

On the Windows .NET front, XML-based user authentication technology, code-named "HailStorm", topped the list. HailStorm will allow client-side applications and Web services to exchange user information.

"Privacy is at the core of the HailStorm system," said Dave Thompson, vice president of Windows development, who delivered a keynote address. "The only way that it [is] tractable for a user to deal with ... the myriad of Web services ... is through personalization. The only way to easily move from site to site and have your destiny under control is ... for you to give information up, as you want, to the right sources."

The Windows XP operating system, too, will feature beefed-up security. In particular, Thompson noted that PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) improvements are in the pipeline.

"We're filling in some of the places where we could have done better," he said, adding that new auto-enrollment and auto-renewal services for users "will make it very easy to deploy PKI."

Smart card support will further bolster XP privacy, according to Thompson. "All the functions that an administrator needs to do can be done with smart cards, including Terminal Service sections. You can uniformly require an administrator to use smart cards. That eliminates the risk of using passwords," he said.

XP will also allow for interoperability between smart cards and EFS (electronic filing system), which will let companies accept certificates issued by other PKIs.

Other XP announcements included faster SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) services, version 2 of the company's Security Configuration Wizard, which will let users configure access controls and turn off unneeded services, and an Internet Connection Firewall to allow users to safely connect directly to a network.

Thompson also addressed Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 6.0 browser. As the company announced on March 21, IE 6.0 will feature native support for P3P (the Platform for Privacy Preferences). P3P is a privacy standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium that notifies users about the privacy rules used at visited Web sites.

Another part of Microsoft's IE 6.0 privacy plan involves the Privacy Statement Generator, which will generate policy statements at IIS (Internet Information Server)-hosted Web sites.

Thompson also announced a strategy to lower the cost of guaranteeing privacy for its customers. By reducing the need for users to reboot patched systems and sending out bulletins that list virus severity ratings and patch availability, Microsoft hopes to streamline its customers' operations, according to Thompson.

As well, Microsoft is trying harder to train its developers to spot privacy loopholes, Thompson said. He noted that the company's Secure Windows Initiative team has been assigned to scrutinize privacy in Microsoft products and train internal developers to create secure code.

Thompson was careful not to overstate Microsoft's role in determining privacy standards.

"I don't want to imply ... that Microsoft is driving or controlling or is the leading expert in security," he said. "[But] because of our role and the products we ship, we have an obligation to provide leadership [by] catalyzing the advancement of security knowledge."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lee

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?