Gates dismisses the password as passe

An inaugural security newsletter e-mailed last month by Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates said the company's February work halt to study Windows' security took almost two months and cost more than $100 million.

Gates said every Windows software engineer received special security training during the stand-down. Microsoft Office and Visual Studio .Net developers will undergo similar security training, he said.

In touting the company's Trustworthy Computing Initiative, Gates called passwords weak links. He said Microsoft itself is now using smart cards to authenticate users' passwords.

"While we are continuing to invest in delivering new capabilities, we are now making security investments an even higher priority than adding features," Gates wrote.

He said that Windows .Net Server 2003 will be "secure by default" when shipped next year and that error-reporting features built into Office XP and Windows XP "are giving us an enormous amount of feedback."

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