Gates seeks

Bill Gates is getting serious about security. Microsoft Corp.’s chairman and chief software architect is calling on the software giant’s 49,000 employees worldwide to make “trustworthy computing” the company’s highest priority.

“In the past, we’ve made our software and services more compelling for users by adding new features and functionality, and by making our platform richly extensible,” he wrote in a memo to employees last month, which was made available to the media. “We’ve done a terrific job at that, but all those great features won’t matter unless customers trust our software. So now, when we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security.”

One observer said the memo doesn’t necessarily mean a new strategy for Microsoft.

“I think the announcement itself is probably more political than one of substance,” said Graham Titterington, a senior analyst with research and consulting firm Ovum Ltd. “IBM (Corp.) has decided to make privacy one of its key themes over the next quarter or so,…so there may be a little bit of me-tooing in this announcement.”

Critics have in the past charged that Microsoft products are especially vulnerable to malicious code and other security problems. But the company has generally rejected the claim, saying its software is more simply frequently targeted because of its high profile.