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Trusted Computing - What is it?

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    What I would like to hear from the MS guys, more than anything else, is info about how Trusted Computing impacts Longhorn. What sort of features will it enable? How will it work? What will it mean for end-users, developers, etc?

    Frankly, I'm really excited about Longhorn and everything I've heard about it, except TC. And the only reason TC scares me is that I don't know anything about it beyond some vague marketing-speak. Some people have lept to conclusions and said it means to keep non-signed software from running, and enforce draconian DRM restrictions, etc. I think (I hope) that they're making all that up. This site is supposed to be about cutting through the marketing bull and talking to the "people". So please, calm our fears. Tell us what Trusted Computing really means for us. Tell us why we want it, and why it won't hurt us.

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    I hate to be annoying, but this is really my most important question for the Longhorn guys.  

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    I'll try to get you an answer.

    Part of the reason you haven't heard me talk about this yet is because I need to see the end-user experience before I really can talk well about what this means.

    Right now the builds of Longhorn have the developer stuff (the new APIs and some of the new functionality) built in, but not the end user experiences.

    To me Trustworthy computing is real simple: does the computer bite you? If it does, it's not trustworthy.

    For instance, do you get viruses? Not trustworthy.

    Do you get SPAM? Not trustworthy.

    Do you get spyware? Not trustworthy.

    Do you not understand what your personal information is being used for? Not trustworthy.

    Do you not feel good about putting your credit card into the system to buy something off of Amazon or eBay? Not trustworthy.

    Are you afraid of loading software? Not trustworthy.

    Does your computer crash all the time (or worse, corrupt or delete data)? Not trustworthy.

    Did you get fooled into believing you got email from someone or someplace (like a phishing email from someone who's acting like eBay or AOL)? Not trustworthy.

    So, whenever we try to solve one of these problems we'll probably use the word "trustworthy." Sometimes the marketing guys don't explain themselves well, though. If that happens, you know where to come to get the scoop, right?

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    Does you OS send info to Redmond without your *explicit* approval? Not Trustworthy. Do you pay for a license that includes upgrade *about* every two years, but don't get upgrades for 4 to 5? Not trustworthy. Does you $200.00 software keep you from using your $1100.00 hardware if you *refuse* to send info to Redmond? Not trustworthy. Does you pacemaker stop working because you forgot to renew your pacemaker? Not trustworthy.

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    Yeah, I know...preview button... Does your pacemaker stop working because you forgot to renew your DRM?...just doesn't seem as funny anymore.

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    Billy's right. The Trustworthy Computing push at MS includes our business practices in addition to the product/code stuff that Scoble mentions.

    In the end, I think establishing trust means that people feel they've been treated fairly and predictably by MS as a company and by the experiences they have with our products.

    One of the big shifts I'm starting to see internally is that Microsofties are starting to understand why people might not trust us. I realize that externally, it might sound weird that we don't really get this, but it's kind of true. In general, individuals and teams at MS really do believe they're doing the right thing for users and the world. We work hard and care a lot about what we do.

    Therefore, it's super frustrating to have our mistakes be perceived as evil and for nefarious plots to be assigned to simple feature or policy ideas (however naive they may have been -- remember smart tags in IE?) However, for me personally, as I meet with more customers and spend more time in newsgroups and forums like this, I've begun to understand how our actions might be perceived regardless of our intent. It's changed my behavior, and I've seen the change in others as well.

    That said, there are some things that others will need to recognize. We're not a charity, a utility, or a public service. We exist to compete and make money. We do that by building the products we think best and letting the market decide. We also will compete aggressively but fairly; we ask no quarter and offer none.

    So, to wrap up, I think that Trustworthy Computing from the product side is about giving users control over their computing experience; they control what's running on their computer, what information they disclose, and when the machine is working and not. On the business side, customers should understand the set of business rules and pricing and have them applied consistently and fairly. I'm sure has a more polished version of that, but that's my take as a solider on the ground.

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    Take a look at Microsofts Trustworthy Computing White Paper...

    While many technologies that make use of computing have proven themselves extremely reliable and trustworthy, they generally haven't reached the point where people are willing to entrust them with their lives, implicitly or explicitly. Trust is a broad concept, and making something trustworthy requires a social infrastructure as well as solid engineering.

    The Trustworthy Computing Initiative is a label for a whole range of advances that have to be made for people to be as comfortable using devices powered by computers and software as they are today using a device that is powered by electricity. This paper contains information about the problems that need to be solved and the actions that need to be taken by individuals, companies, consortia, research communities, nations, and the world as a whole.

    Included in this document:

    1. Why Trust?
    2. Setting the Stage
    3. A Framework for Trustworthy Computing
    4. Fundamental Problems
    5. Summary

    and also their Trustworty computing home page

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