Microsoft has abandoned the Palladium name, in favour of the (no doubt deliberately) snooze-provoking "Next Generation Secure Computing Base." The ostensible reasons are twofold. The Palladium name is already used by another company for a product in a similar area, and since its announcement Palladium has received a lot of attention, been a centre of controversy, and been subject to what Microsoft thinks of as misdirected criticism.
We at The Register can possibly congratulate ourselves for being one of the first to spot that the Palladium name was already taken, but to be honest we only tripped over it when we were looking for posters of the Beatles at the London Palladium.* And actually, given that Microsoft usually doesn't have any problems rolling over small players who happen to have chosen the wrong product name, we reckon the second reason is the important one.
Some of the criticism of Palladium has been misdirected; for the purposes of shorthand we accept that it's simpler just to think of it as Devil's Spawn, and once the money people get their hands on it, in application it will quite probably be functionally equivalent to Devil's Spawn. But from a design point of view it's neutral. It is intended to be about identity and secure internet transactions, so theoretically could be a force for good, and although it could (and no doubt will) be used to support DRM, it is not in itself DRM
But we philosophise, and are wasting our resources on doing Microsoft's counter-spin work for the marketing droids. The new name, dull as it is, gives a pretty clear indication of where Microsoft wishes to position the technology formerly known as Palladium. It is, at some point in the future, to be a Secure Computing Base upon which one can build, and what you build on it is your affair. It may also be moving into 'not a product but a set of technologies land', which we've noted is frequently where Microsoft products progress as their names get longer and more anodyne.
Just changing the name does not in itself change anything, of course, and distancing it from DRM doesn't turn it into A Good Thing. The criticism of NGSCB (which we fervently hope will turn out to be the initials of a Brazilian plumbing company, or similar) should focus not on DRM, but on whether or not the approach it takes to identity and security is sensible, valid, and in the long term interest of users. ®
* We are slightly disappointed at the loss of this good old London venue from the Microsoft product portfolio. Should Microsoft decide the new name is far too dull after all, we humbly suggest alternatives from our mispent youth. The Electric Ballroom, perhaps? Or the Camden Palais. The 100 Club is currently in financial straits and might therefore be a steal, and as far as we know the pub formerly known as the Brecknock is still no longer called the Brecknock, so this historically squalid brand from the 1970s London pub rock scene could be snapped up. Or there's the Hope and Anchor - that might even be rather appropriate.
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