Gates calls for "trustworthy computing"

Bill Gates is getting serious about security. Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect is calling on the software giant's 49,000 employees worldwide to make "trustworthy computing" the company's highest priority.

"In the past, we've made our software and services more compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly extensible," he wrote in a memo to employees, which was made available to the media. "We've done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won't matter unless customers trust our software. So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security."

Critics have in the past charged that Microsoft products are especially vulnerable to malicious code and other security problems. But the company has generally rejected the claim, saying its software is more simply frequently targeted because of its high profile.

Gates wrote that events last year, including the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and highly publicized virus attacks, have highlighted the importance of "integrity and security of our critical infrastructure, whether it's the airlines or computer systems."

Customers, he continued, should be able to rely on "computing that is as available, reliable and secure as electricity, water services and telephony."

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