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Gates' Big Announcements at the RSA Conference

The RSA Conference started today and one of the keynote speakers was Bill Gates. In his speech Gates made several announcements for improvements to the overall security offered via Microsoft products. Among the more notable items is that Microsoft will finally update the aged Internet Explorer browser. Gates said a new version, IE 7.0, will be released into beta testing this summer for users of Windows XP SP2.

Just about everyone who is currently beta testing Microsoft's Windows AntiSpyware solution has been wondering if it will become paid service. Gates answered that question saying that the solution will be included in Windows as a value-add item for consumers. A managed solution for businesses will become available as a paid service.

In terms of forthcoming anti-virus solutions Gates said once the recently announced deal to acquire Sybari is closed Microsoft will ship a new anti-virus scanning engine based on the acquired GeCAD technology as part of Sybari's Antigen solution.

Addressing the need for improved software update services, Gates said that Microsoft will release a beta version of a unified Windows Update service in mid-March that will include functionality for Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Office 2003, Exchange Server 2003. For businesses Microsoft will release a new Windows Update Services solution sometime during the first half of 2005. The company will also release Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0 in the same time frame as the forthcoming Windows Update Services release.

Gates also said that Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 Enterprise Edition has been released to manufacturing, which includes improved protection and connectivity. Microsoft's Rights Management Service SP1 will introduce new features that will help companies with regulatory compliance and record management. RMS SP1 will also allow companies to deploy the rights management solution without a connection to the Internet or dependency on connectivity to Microsoft services.

To help developers everywhere write more secure code for Microsoft platforms, Gates announced a partnership with SPI Dynamics, Fortify Software, Mercury, and ISSA among others to launch a Secure Software Forum to help raise awareness of the need for application security. The company will make an effort to educate developers on how to write more secure code, and will expand its Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program worldwide to help developers communicate amongst each other for help in secure application development.

Note: The phrase "Most Valuable Partner (MVP) program" was corrected from the original version to read "Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program" which was the result of a typographical error in Microsoft's original press release.

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