Gates Pushes Smart Cards

LAS VEGAS (05/10/2000) - Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp.'s chairman and chief software architect, said yesterday that security issues are key for the development of the Internet and pushed smart cards as tools that can help improve companies' security procedures.

At a keynote speech at the NetWorld+Interop 2000 conference here, Gates urged widespread adoption of smart cards as a major tool in efforts to stop burgeoning lapses in companies' security systems.

"Over 99 percent of security problems are related to the fact that it is difficult to administer [security policy] specifications," Gates said, adding that most security mistakes revolve around password and policy implementation.

"The answer is moving away from passwords and other ideas."

He called on the industry to produce cheaper and simpler smart cards and biometric security features.

Five OEMs will build Windows smart cards for network authentication, secure corporate transactions, health care information, electronic cash, and other uses, Microsoft officials said Tuesday in a statement.

Microsoft will host its second annual smart card summit June 29 and June 30 at company headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

Gates also made a reference to the "I Love You" virus that has swept the world since last Thursday, testing the security systems of companies and users' knowledge of security procedures. "Recently I've been getting a lot of e-mail that says 'I Love You.' It's just filling up my mailbox. It's like an IQ test -- am I going to open it or not?" he said.

Gates also touted Windows Reliability 2000 Online, a free Web-based service that allows customers to receive free workarounds and troubleshooting tips to resolve problems with Windows. The service, he said, will lead to the elimination of blue screens.

Gates also announced the availability of Microsoft Windows Services for Unix (SFU) 2.0, which now supports Linux. It is designed to let users share files among Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Unix-based systems via the NFS (Network File System) protocol.

Gates's speech drew varied reactions from the audience.

Tom Howell, a network consultant for VTel, a video communications company, said he found the speech "very entertaining."

"But I wasn't expecting there to be as much Microsoft marketing speak as there was. I was expecting more of a visionary presentation, more of a 'Where I see the market headed' kind of thing," Howell said.

Howell was not impressed by most of the technological announcements Gates alluded to, although he said "the movie download in 13 seconds was pretty impressive."

"I would have liked to have seen some prototypes of the devices [Gates] mentioned," Howell said. "I would have liked it if they had showed us browsing on a PDA [personal digital assistant] or how things scale down to particular devices -- how that actually works."

An IT administrator for a health care conglomerate, who asked to remain anonymous, was not overly enthused by Gates' presentation.

"It was rather short and sweet; a lot of this stuff is fairly obvious," the administrator said. "I mean, Gates is talking about an XML future, and I'd say most people already know that XML is going to be the future, especially if you're planning to do anything with device-specific content and even wireless."

Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash., is at www.microsoft.com.

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