Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bill Gates at RSA

I watched Bill give his keynote at RSA, he has become a regular feature here. He started off by joking that he is glad he decided to speak here rather than go duck hunting with Dick Cheney.

Much of the speech was intended to say 'yes we get security message, do you folk understand the make it simple for ordinary people message?' It was pretty effective.

One interesting note is that Microsoft is now using the term 'trustworthy computing' not 'trusted' so its not just me anymore. Also interesting was that Bill disappeared off stage for both sets of demos. Trying to avoid CEO syndrome perhaps?

The first demo was mostly aimed at enterprise admins showing how an employee who lost their laptop and cell could be reprovisioned without recourse to central IT support. It was pretty slick and if it works would certainly avoid the need for every new machine to be shipped to IT support for configuration before issue. Even more important the configuration of the machine is checked each time it connects to the corporate net.

The second demo showed the use of infocard. I have seen several presentations on infocard but this was the first time I saw a live demo of the user interface portion in final form. It is pretty slic, particularly running on top of Vista.

From a security perspective there are lots of important details: security sensitive information like private keys is being locked down to secure partitions they are using PKI, certificates and the WS-* stack. The most important change though is that this is a user interface that ordinary people are likely to be able to actually use.

Infocard does not have all the features of Secure Internet Letterhead that I would like to see but it is clearly a step in that direction. We are starting to see icons being used to communicate trusted brands to users. But people don't yet get the need to hold the trust providers accountable in a system that depends so heavily on them.

Scott McNealy is up now, he is saying that Bill forgot to mention his invitation to go hunting with him...

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