Gates Urges Trustworthy Computing in Memo

In a memo sent to the entire company on Tuesday, Bill Gates ordered his Microsoft troops to emphasize security and stability over whiz-bang features in every development decision they make going forward.

The move would represent a significant reversal of direction for Redmond.

"Over the last year it has become clear that ensuring .NET is a platform for Trustworthy Computing is more important than any other part of our work. If we don't do this, people simply won't be willing -- or able -- to take advantage of all the other great work we do," Gates said in the opening of the lengthy e-mail.

While contending that Microsoft's responsiveness to security issues has been "unmatched," Gates wrote that, "Our new design approaches need to dramatically reduce the number of such issues that come up in the software that Microsoft, its partners and its customers create."

"When we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security," Gates wrote. "Our products should emphasize security right out of the box, and we must constantly refine and improve that security as threats evolve."

The New York Times reported Thursday that the memo is accompanied by three significant actions within Microsoft:

  • Stopping development of new operating system software for the entire month of February.
  • Sending the company's 7,000 systems programmers to special security training.
  • Scouring all Windows operating system code for security flaws.

    The e-mail is similar to other major policy e-mails Gates has sent out over the years, including a series of e-mails in 1995 about the Internet and an e-mail two years ago about .NET and Web services.

    Gates sent the e-mail from a "think week" away from the office. It was issued the same day that Microsoft posted Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework on its MSDN developer site.

    It was not immediately clear how the security missive will affect Microsoft's product delivery schedule for 2002.

  • About the Author

    Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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