Microsoft announces NGSCB to be built in the next generation of CPU's
"Bill Gates has announced that Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) will be built into the next generation of CPU's. The unusual name NGSCB has been chosen to replace the controversial name Palladium. Microsoft is talking to chip and PC/motherboard companies about this and the introduction of the Hardware ID. They would like to have NGSCB compliant CPUs well ahead of the release of Longhorn.
Microsoft talk about NGSCB as a security enhancement such as to prevent the current problems of viruses, Trojans, hackers, exploits, leaked documents, password and data stealing and even reducing anonymous spam E-mail. While existing Windows applications will be able to run on a NGSCB based Windows OS, they will not be able to directly communicate with NGSCB compliant applications and hardware without a trust relationship. Windows XP Service pack 2 will also see many security improvements including better firewall which is set to 'on' by default as well as improved browser and E-mail software.
While Microsoft claim NGSCB is not DRM, DRM products can be based on NGSCB to improve DRM protected content against piracy in the next generation of audio and video products as well as optical discs. The major drawback of NGSCB is that much control is being taken away from the end user and given to Bill and the content and software providers.
Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB, aka Palladium) will be built into the next generation of CPUs, Bill Gates claimed yesterday, effectively making security via hardware ID an integral part of the Windows PC platform. And Microsoft is talking to the chip and PC companies about the introduction of hardware ID, so we will likely be seeing some decidedly NGSCB-like features well ahead of Longhorn.
Bill has a talent for what Lady Mary Archer has described as "imaginative precis", so we can never take his presentation material as absolute gospel. It is however extremely valuable in determining where it is that Microsoft wants us to go tomorrow, and how Microsoft proposes to get us to go there. This time around, the security imperative figures high in the company's drive to wrest what remains of your control of your computer from you. Over to Bill, and we'll unpick as we go:
"Another enhancement that hasn't been talked about very broadly is the fact that the next generation of processors will build in a new security capability called, kind of obscurely [remind us who it was who renamed Palladium, Bill], Next Generation Secure Computing Base, or NGSCB is the acronym for that. What that does is it allows you to still run arbitrary third-party software to be able to make security guarantees, that the decryption keys and some software is running in such a way that third-party software is isolated from it."
As is so often the case with Bill, you just about know what he means, as opposed to what he said. What he means here is that NGSCB machines will still run standard software, ringfenced off from the secure components, but its point is that it uses the secure components and software to establish trust relationships. Check here for a longer explanation of what NGSCB is, and how it will operate. Note also that although it is not DRM, it is a very useful base for DRM systems, while the S-word is a very useful cover for such systems.
If the particular next generation of processors Bill is talking about makes it to market before Longhorn, then it's perfectly feasible that at least some of NGSCB can be catered for before Longhorn. Microsoft has never specifically said that NGSCB is a Longhorn product, just that it's a long-range product. The hardware ID component of NGSCB was initially intended to use a TCPA-compliant chip on the motherboard, and this can still happen to enable more immediate secure systems, while getting it onto the CPU itself will allow Microsoft to make NGSCB into a standard. Call it DRM, people will run, call it security, then maybe not. Full article
This looks to be one of the main reasons why Longhorn will not be launched for next few years. At the moment, PCs have gone so fast that Microsoft will also need to provide good reasons on why users should replace their existing PC's they are happy with to NGSCB enabled system's. While they may eliminate or even just reduce the current problems with viruses, hackers, exploits and so on, they will also be giving more control over the consumerís PCs to themselves as well as software and content providers. This would be great news to the software, movie and music industries, but could rule out fair use such as the ability to backup future products."
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