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4/8/2008
01:10 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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End To End Trust Needs More Firepower

As I sit here at the RSA Conference in San Francisco watching Microsoft's Craig Mundie talk about his company's new End to End Trust initiative in a fireside chat-style discussion, I'm struck by how poorly the homey, conversational interview format suits such a significant call to action. Microsoft is basically saying computing and the Internet need to be reinvented because there's no w

As I sit here at the RSA Conference in San Francisco watching Microsoft's Craig Mundie talk about his company's new End to End Trust initiative in a fireside chat-style discussion, I'm struck by how poorly the homey, conversational interview format suits such a significant call to action.

Microsoft is basically saying computing and the Internet need to be reinvented because there's no way to trust people and information online. This is the stuff of drums and trumpets, not a technocratic tête-à-tête.By downplaying the magnitude of what it's asking for, Microsoft risks a tepid response, or at least something less than the revolution that will be necessary to restore trust and security to the Net.

A cynic would say Microsoft doesn't really mean it, that it's just offering a vague call for new thinking in the absence of innovative new products.

But I don't think that's the case. Spurred by competition from Google and others, Microsoft has shown real innovation lately. And that's why I'm puzzled by the soft sell for such a significant call to action.

What should Microsoft has done?

Well, it could have announced the formation of a consortium with industry leaders, say AOL, AMD, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Cisco, Google, Intel, Sprint, Sun, Verizon, and Yahoo, Linux vendors, a few major banks, and perhaps a government agency like the FTC, that had committed to interoperable identity and authentication standards.

It could have announced timetables and development road maps. It could have announced something more like a plan, rather than an invitation to discuss the matter of online trust further.

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