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Microsoft Demos Security Software

Users will be able to turn application protection on and off at will.
Users of Microsoft's forthcoming security software will have the ability to turn its protection on and off at will, the company says. But applications making use of the security features won't be able to support video or other sophisticated interfaces.

During a demonstration of PCs running an early version of Microsoft's Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, an upcoming feature of Windows better known as Palladium, group product manager Mario Juarez said Microsoft's design goals for the technology include the ability for users to decide whether or not to run applications in a secure mode. There will be an on-screen icon or signal light to show when Palladium is on.

Palladium, expected to arrive in Windows "Longhorn," which is due in two years, uses a secure portion of Windows and a special cryptographic chip to prevent drivers and applications from talking directly to memory, input/output, or other hardware, in order to thwart hackers. But apps protected by Palladium won't be able to run video-based applications inside their windows. Graphics chips will need to be modified to work with Palladium, Juarez says. "The best we'll have in version 1 is dialogue boxes," he says. "The [user interface] will be basic."