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Windows 8 Update: Microsoft Windows 8 is not Ballmer's biggest regret

Tim Greene | Aug. 28, 2013
Even though Windows 8 incited hordes to call for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's ouster, the operating system is not what he regrets most about his 33-year tenure at the company.

Even though Windows 8 incited hordes to call for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's ouster, the operating system is not what he regrets most about his 33-year tenure at the company.

That distinction falls to one of Microsoft's other operating systems, Vista, according an interview with Ballmer by Mary Jo Foley on her All About Microsoft blog.

It could be argued that Windows 8 is as big a debacle as Vista. Windows 8's underwhelming sales numbers in its first few months were compared unfavorably to those of Vista, which is generally considered to be Microsoft's biggest OS flop. Ballmer perhaps hints in the interview that it's the fact that Windows 8 is still within its first year that he's giving it a pass so far, but it's difficult to tell from the transcript.

Here's his somewhat vague and rambling answer:

"Oh, you know, I've actually had a chance to make a lot of mistakes, and probably because, you know, people all want to focus in on period A, period B, but I would say probably the thing I regret most is the, what shall I call it, the loopedy-loo that we did that was sort of Longhorn to Vista. I would say that's probably the thing I regret most. And, you know, there are side effects of that when you tie up a big team to do something that doesn't prove out to be as valuable."

TPM: Windows 8 security boon or boondoggle?

Microsoft has been boasting that its use of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips in certified Windows 8 devices is a security asset, but leaked German government documents warn it could be a security liability.

Even more dire, TPM could actually be a backdoor that would allow attackers the leaked documents include the U.S. National Security Agency among them to undermine the security of the devices entirely, the documents say.

Microsoft says this is nonsense, according to Die Zeit, the German publication that got hold of the documents and wrote about them.

According to Microsoft, using TPM makes it nearly impossible for root kits to infect machines successfully, thereby preventing a devastating type of attack. That's why Windows 8 enables TPM security by default and links it to certificates signed by Microsoft itself.

It also gives users the option to use substitute certificates and bootloaders or to turn off TPM altogether.

The risk, according to the documents Die Zeit obtained from the German federal Office for Security Information, is that manufacturers place a master encryption key on TPM chips when they're made. So if that key is somehow compromised, the security that flows from it is also compromised.

 

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