"At the Vista kickoff, Steve Ballmer was asked, 'How important is BitLocker?' In his typical booming response, Ballmer said, 'hugely important'," said Gartner analyst Jeffrey Wheatman, in a research note posted Tuesday.
"This is a particularly interesting response in light of the fact that BitLocker is only available via Microsoft's Software Assurance (SA) program aimed at large enterprises and the [Windows Vista] Ultimate version," Wheatman said.
BitLocker is the name Microsoft's given to its whole disk encryption technology. Whole disk encryption is increasingly applied by enterprises to lock down data, particularly in mobile machines which might be lost or stolen. Only the Enterprise and Ultimate SKUs of Vista include BitLocker; the former is available only to large customers through a volume license agreement, while the latter, though sold at retail, is priced at $399.
"Small businesses and home users of Vista won't get the benefit of BitLocker's protection," said Wheatman. "If Steve Ballmer says it is hugely important, then why is Microsoft excluding so many of its clients from one of the major security functions on Vista?"