Saturday, February 03, 2007

Vista BitLocker—not for everybody

During the kickoff of Vista, Steve Ballmer was asked, "How important is BitLocker?" Ballmer quickly replied, "hugely important." Not too surpising knowing Ballmer’s personality and flare for the dramatic.

BitLocker is Vista's tool for whole disk encryption. It was created in response to the loss of data from an extensive number of lost/stolen laptops. BitLocker encrypts the entire disk, protecting the data from unwanted access. This will put a lot of pressure on vendors like PointSec who have created an industry around this feature.
Unfortunately, BitLocker is only available via Microsoft's Software Assurance (SA) program. This is aimed at large enterprises and requires users to license the Ultimate version of Vista. Ultimate is priced at 66% over the regular Home Premium version. As a result of this, a large number of users--home and business versions customers--will not be able to take advantage of these great features.

If Ballmer and Microsoft have truly brought a competitor to the disk encryption market, I am sure we will see these features propagated into other versions of Windows. The million dollar question is--are these features excluded from other versions due to missing components (such as Web-based key recovery)?
More to come on this, I am sure. Security is important for all of us and, therefore, for Microsoft.


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