Stung by criticism over lax software security, Microsoft Corp. disclosed plans Thursday to update its flagship Windows operating systems early in 2004 to make consumers less vulnerable to hackers.
Microsoft said the changes, announced by chief executive Steve Ballmer during a trade conference in New Orleans, will be offered free in the next "service pack" update to users of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 software, the company's latest versions for consumers and businesses.
The announcement was aimed at calming Microsoft customers increasingly irritated by the ease with which hackers and others have broken into Windows computers. Adequately protecting an average personal computer can take far more time than many customers are willing to spend.
Microsoft promised to improve the way in which Windows manages computer memory to protect users against commonly exploited software flaws known as buffer overruns, which can trick Windows into accepting dangerous commands. Some of the most damaging attacks in recent months fall under this category.
The company promised to improve its built-in firewall feature, which has drawn criticism in the past because it was not especially strong and was routinely turned off in new copies of Windows. The update will automatically turn on the updated firewall and enable companies to centrally manage each computer's protective settings.
ed. Didn't this all start with "trustworthy computing"? Another believe it when i see it job.
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