It is one of the amazing things of this life that certain things can happen over and over, yet the outcome remains the same.
At the PDC conference Steve Ballmer was rather proud to proclaim that the NSA was in on the security architecture of Windows 7. Of course this is very good for the mainstream user who is not worried about security that much. The paranoid and the otherwise troubled will be thinking of the various ways that the NSA put their mark on Windows 7.
Of course, when asked Microsoft gave the answer we knew was coming…it was, after all, the only possible answer. Slashdot gives the word –
“Microsoft has denied that it has built a backdoor into Windows 7, a concern that surfaced yesterday after a senior National Security Agency (NSA) official testified before Congress that the agency had worked on the operating system. ‘Microsoft has not and will not put “backdoors” into Windows,’ a company spokeswoman said, reacting to a Computerworld story Wednesday. On Monday, Richard Schaeffer, the NSA’s information assurance director, told the Senate’s Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security that the agency had partnered with the developer during the creation of Windows 7 ‘to enhance Microsoft’s operating system security guide.’ Thursday’s categorical denial by Microsoft was accompanied by further explanation of exactly how the NSA participated in the making of Windows 7. ‘The work being discussed here is purely in conjunction with our Security Compliance Management Toolkit,’ said the spokeswoman. The company rolled out the Windows 7 version of the toolkit late last month, shortly after it officially launched the operating system.”
Now, what else could have been said? If any admission of any extra holes in Windows security was to be admitted, no one would want to buy it. On the other side of that coin, the more times an admission of governmental consultations come up, the less steady the nerves of many users are. More references bring concerns to even the most law abiding. Frankly, I can’t imagine why Ballmer ever brought it up. It really is only a benefit under the slimmest of circumstances. If you think about what a backdoor could mean, there are many companies, otherwise operating fully within the law, that would not want the NSA or any other governmental concerns (such as the I.R.S.) putting an unwelcome nose into their data. In all seriousness, Microsoft might have shot itself in the foot over this admission.
There might be a few more corporate customers who will be using that extended support of Windows XP until 2014.