Gates Plugs Smart Cards for Security

BOSTON (05/09/2000) - Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates told the crowd at Networld/Interop in Las Vegas today that passwords are the weak link in Internet security. He said use of smart cards will become the major way for corporate users to authenticate themselves to the network.

In his keynote at the networking show this morning, Gates touted the security, reliability and scalability of Windows 2000, demonstrating features such as digital certificates, IPSec security and Kerberos authentication. But he said the weakest link in security is the use of passwords, and called on the industry to move to smart cards for authentication.

Gates' call followed a separate security-related development last week, when Microsoft acquired biometric technology from I/O Software Inc. Microsoft said it would build such technology into future versions of Windows.

Gates showcased interoperability between Windows 2000 and Unix as well at Networld/Interop. He announced the availability of an add-on for Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows Services for Unix 2.0, which allows network administrators to manage Unix user accounts and lets Unix and Windows users share files. He also demonstrated Interix, a tool that lets Unix applications run on top of Windows.

As he has done in previous speeches, Gates dropped some hints about the future of the Windows platform. A browser view of Internet information is limited, Gates said, because it shows information from only one source and doesn't allow it to be edited. Bringing information together from multiple sources often involves the clipboard or pieces of paper.

Gates said the content-tagging language XML will play a big role in unifying information from different sources on the Internet and viewing it on multiple devices. He said it will cause "a revolution in development tools," as databases and programming languages are adapted to support XML.

Also today, Microsoft announced it had handed over the specification for Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) to the W3C, hoping to turn it into an Internet standard. The development of SOAP has been driven by Microsoft, but the XML-based interoperability spec recently gained credibility when it won the support of IBM.

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