Windows Longhorn Watered Down Again


I saw this and started laughing like crazy.

Microsoft has further watered down the Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) technology that will ship with its forthcoming Longhorn operating system.

Many systems which Microsoft claims are "Longhorn ready" will not be able to support the security technology, has learned, and only part of the original security vision will be ready in time for the operating system's launch.

"With the Longhorn launch we are delivering the first part of NGSCB: Secure Startup," Jim Allchin, Microsoft's group vice president for platforms, told at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle. "Not all of the compartmentization technology will be available. The main thing is Secure Startup."
Thwarting Attacks

Secure Startup protects users against offline attacks, blocking access to the computer if the content of the hard drive is compromised. This prevents a laptop thief from booting up the system from a floppy disk to circumvent security features or swapping out the hard drive.

Microsoft unveiled NGSCB, formerly codenamed Palladium, in 2002, and published a beta in October 2003. The security technology has since undergone several changes.

The company originally planned for the technology to deliver a rigid level of security, creating physical separations between applications.

It was designed to prevent a virus from entering the operating system through the browser and making its way to the email application to further spread itself.

The technology used a newly developed software component called a "nexus" to shield applications from each other and the operating system. A chip, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), is used to encrypt data streams between the operating system and applications.

The original plans required users to purchase new hardware and software. Last year at WinHEC Microsoft reversed that decision.
Secure Compartments

Instead of shielding individual applications, the technology would create secure compartments for elements such as the operating system, computing Can your network transform your business? See how AT&T can help. tasks and administration and management.

Although initially intended to ship as part of Longhorn, the secure compartments have now been pulled from the platform and will be released later.

Microsoft has kept quiet about the changes in the program. The company cancelled a session at WinHEC about technology titled "How to build NGSCB-enabled systems," replacing it with a session called "How to build in support for secure startup."

A spokeswoman for Microsoft claimed that the session title was changed because the new title better reflected the revised content.

In addition to NGSCB features being pulled, many systems will not be able to support any of the new technology by the time Longhorn comes out.

The security platform depends on a TPM chip being present in the system. The chip is an industry standard governed by the Trusted Computing Group, a non-profit organization which develops security standards.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has launched a logo program at WinHEC dubbed "Ready PC," indicating that a system is capable of running Longhorn. The logo tells users looking to buy a computer prior to the Longhorn launch whether a new system is able to switch to the upcoming operating system.
System Requirements

Qualifying systems require at least 512 MB of memory and a current mid- to high-end processor. But the program does not demand a TPM chip to be present, Allchin told

Manuel Novoa, a distinguished technologist and security architect at HP's Personal Systems Group, told that the TPM is an "if implemented" requirement. This means that Longhorn will support the technology when available, but that the chip is not required.

Although the "Ready PC" logo tells users that they are buying a system that runs on Longhorn, they may unwittingly buy a computer that will not support NGSCB.

Novoa called the version of NGSCB that users will get in Longhorn as "NGSCB with a delay."

"Rather than deliver nothing, Microsoft is saying: 'Let's do what we can deliver.' [Microsoft] had to cut functionality to meet a launch date," said Novoa. He expects the technology to be ready by 2007 or 2008.

A delay in the development of Microsoft's virtualization technology is to blame for the changes in NGSCB, Rob Enderle, a principal analyst with the Enderle Group, told
Virtualization Component

Virtualization technology is required to create the secured compartments. The fact that the TPM is not a requirement of the Ready PC program is in part a result of resistance from manufacturers and end users, according to the analyst.

"A lot of people are nervous about the TPM," said Enderle. "They fear that the TPM is a tool for the US government to spy on users worldwide, or that the chip can be used to set and enforce digital rights management policies."

Microsoft had wanted the TPM as a requirement for the program, but was forced to back down. "Do you implement a technology that a large chunk of the world doesn't want?" asked Enderle.

So Longhorn is not coming Secure for all computers that update and can Run it and WinFS isn't going to be ready for it's debut either...what the hell do these programmers do all day at M$?? :confused:

If Apple starts including all their entry level (iBook/Mac Mini) computers with 512MB of RAM and offered more discounts, not just student, i think a lot of people will be switching.


Crotchety UI Nitpicker
Can someone tell me exactly what is going to make the cut for Longhorn? Honestly, every single feature I've ever heard about has been pushed back to a few years after the initial release. There was the database-driven file system (which we have in Tiger, although it only exists at the BSD level so far), the Quartz-like graphics engine (complete with the "weenie effect" ;) ), which obviously we've had for quite some time, and now this security stuff.

So what's their slogan going to be when Longhorn is finally released? "Microsoft Longhorn: We cut more features than most companies even promise."

Or maybe they'll just go the obvious route and call it Shorthorn.


I am just counting down the time till i get my iMac and throw out my PC once and for all...well not really, just to have it around to play CounterStrike.


Just for my memory, what mac OS was Longhorn aiming to be a match with? Was it Jaguar or Panther? And with all the water downs and delays, what OS is it looking to be a match with as of right now? :)


i think its Panther, but 10.5 should be out when Longhorn comes out...again apple ahead of the curve.


RGrphc2 said:
i think its Panther, but 10.5 should be out when Longhorn comes out...again apple ahead of the curve.
and then we'll have to put up with everyone bitching about how Apple keeps bringing out a new OS every 12 - 18 months! :rolleyes:


Longhorn will still be competing with Tiger, assuming it ships on time. Jobs has stated that they're moving away from the 18 month release schedule and Tiger is going to be with us for some time.


It seems like Longhorn is not competing with Tiger. Many of the features that they're touting for Longhorn have been with us since 10.1. If they had actually lived up to the promised capabilities, it would have been a worthy opponent for Tiger. In it's current state... well, it's not.


Eyebrow Moderator
Something that you guys have to keep in mind. Where as OSX has more cutting edge features, Windows is still more compatible with various hardware and has to continue to do so. I have no doubt that if Microsoft controlled the hardware that their OS was run on it'd have similar if not better features. (this is not a dig at apple, but microsft does have more money to do so). So it comes as no surprise to me that Microsoft is having to cut features, because quite possibly they are running into various compatibility issues (hardware and software) and will need more time to make their new features compatible with as much as possible.

(note: this is not flame bait, this is just an opinion on what might be happening)