Microsoft pulls plug on private-folder software

Microsoft has pulled the plug on free software that allowed users sharing Windows PCs to shield information in a private folder.

Responding to pressure from corporate users, Microsoft Friday pulled free software from the Web that allowed users sharing Windows PCs to shield information from other users in a private folder.

"Private Folder 1.0 was designed as a benefit for customers running genuine Windows," Microsoft said Friday in an e-mailed statement through its public relations firm. "However, we received feedback about concerns around manageability, data recovery and encryption, and based on that feedback we are removing the application today."

Microsoft posted Private Folder 1.0 to the Web in early July as an add-on for Windows. But the software, which allowed users to set up a password-protected folder for files they want kept private, caused alarm among corporate users.

In various blogs, corporate administrators worried that the software, which was available to any Windows user running Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage program, would wreak havoc for network administrators. Windows Genuine Advantage is Microsoft's Web-based program that verifies whether a PC is running a legitimate copy of Windows.

"This will be a real support problem," a poster named "George" wrote on MSBlog, a Microsoft-related blog. "Imagine someone maliciously places important files in the folder and deletes the originals."

Corporate administrators also feared that the software would let individual workers keep inappropriate files private from system administrators, and that a worker might leave a company with password-protected files still on the PC without giving network administrators the password.

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