Microsoft drops 'Palladium' code name

Microsoft has renamed its plan to link hardware and software security inside Windows-based computers. Palladium is now "next-generation secure computing base," which better describes the effort, the software maker said Monday.

Dropping the Palladium code name signals a new phase for the plan that should create a more secure Windows computing platform, a Microsoft spokesman said.

The change also puts a new name on a plan that has weathered a lot of criticism.

Initial reactions to Microsoft's June 2002 Palladium announcement were mixed. Critics said the system could limit a user's ability to control their own PC, possibly removing fair use rights related to music and movie files, and could even help extend Microsoft's operating system monopoly.

Part of the technology will authenticate data and provide sealed storage, so valuable information can only be accessed by trusted software components. Critics fear that Microsoft will build DRM (digital rights management) technology into the hardware of the PC. Microsoft has denied this.

DRM allows content owners, such as recording and movie companies, to control how digital versions of their work can be used.

The "next-generation secure computing base" plan is to add a security chip to the PC and let Windows use that to create a "trusted space" where certain applications and operations can run. This should better protect sensitive information and stop the spread of viruses, Microsoft has said.

The technology is to eliminate "weak links," for example by walling off memory in the PC even from the operating system to prevent surreptitious observation, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said in an open e-mail last week.

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