Windows-Help.NET Newsletter 24 March 2001, Vol 4 No. 12
 Microsoft Unleashes "Hailstorm"

by Arie Slob

Hello Windows users,

Microsoft .NET This week Microsoft announced a set of new technologies to advance its Microsoft® .NET strategy. The technology, code-named "HailStorm," is a set of user-centric XML Web services that enable developers to build solutions that work seamlessly with one another over the Internet to deliver a more personalized and consistent user experience. In addition, Microsoft showcased five industry partners: American Express Co., Click Commerce Inc., eBay Inc., Inc. and Groove Networks Inc. All showed prototypes and conceptual demos illustrating HailStorm-based scenarios.

Hailstorm would feature popular Microsoft services such as MSN Instant Messenger and its Passport identification service that stores personal data like credit card information in a virtual wallet. It will also include a personal calendar, contact book, document storage and inbox (amongst other services). HailStorm seems to be Microsoft's answer to AOL, using instant messaging as a vehicle for a range of Web services, pitching Microsoft against America On Line (AOL) - the leader in instant messaging technology.

It has been reported that AOL & Sun officials held telephone conferences with antitrust regulators about HailStorm, alleging that HailStorm is designed to limit their access to customers and leverage Microsoft's dominant Windows market share.

Microsoft also has to deal with privacy and security concerns. HailStorm employs the Passport user authentication system to secure an individual's identity and information. Both Passport and the HailStorm services require affirmative consent and explicit opt-in by the user for the release of any personal information, but considering the recent hacks of Microsoft servers, a lot of people may not feel too comfortable turning over their confidential data for storage at Microsoft.

HailStorm is to be released for beta test in the second half of calendar 2001 and general availability by the end of 2001 or early 2002.

More information can be found at Microsoft's .NET Web site. Microsoft also welcomes feedback on HailStorm via email to

Microsoft to Deliver on Privacy Tools in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 5.5 Microsoft today announced the specifics for privacy tools it will deliver in the next version of its popular Web browser software, Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.

The privacy tools will help Internet surfers select their own level of privacy protection in dealing with Web sites, and in particular with the sites' use of cookies. Internet Explorer 6, which will be available for free download or as part of the Windows® XP operating system scheduled to be released this summer, will be the first Internet browser software to include such robust privacy tools based on the industry-developed Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) specification.

"With these significant privacy features in Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft is helping to give people critical notice and consent information in their browser experience, to better know what information is collected about them via cookies," said Rick Belluzzo, president and chief operating officer at Microsoft. "Privacy is a key part of Microsoft's .NET efforts, and this work is a step toward enabling the .NET experiences of the future, where devices, applications and services work together on behalf of the users."


Microsoft's Optical Mice to be Faster & Speedier than Ever

New Microsoft® IntelliEye™ optical sensors scheduled to shatter the optical competition's specs.


Can Web Bugs Be Squashed?

How secure can you make your computer to outsiders interested in your secrets?


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EGTSOFT System Locker

System Locker is a handy utility that allows you to protect your personal computer from unauthorized access. You can use System Locker to restrict access to your PC. It's attractive, secure, and very easy to use.

Windows 9x / Me / NT* / 2000*
Shareware $15

*) System Locker WILL run under Win. NT 4 / Win. 2000. But due to operating system restrictions, mouse and keyboard locking can not be done securely in this case.

Download [778KB]
Web site

Cryptologists Discover Flaw in E-Mail Security Program PGP

Cryptologists from Czech company ICZ announced this week that they had found a flaw in one of the most widely used programs for sending encrypted e-mail messages, which could be used to read encrypted e-mail. Network Associates is rumored to be working on a fix.

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  Microsoft Security

Erroneous VeriSign-Issued Digital Certificates Pose Spoofing Hazard

Microsoft has alerted its customers that on January 30 and 31, 2001, VeriSign, Inc., issued two VeriSign Class 3 code-signing digital certificates to an individual who fraudulently claimed to be a Microsoft employee. The common name assigned to both certificates is "Microsoft Corporation". The ability to sign executable content using keys that purport to belong to Microsoft would clearly be advantageous to an attacker who wished to convince users to allow the content to run. A software update will be issued shortly to provide permanent remediation.

Affected Software Versions Microsoft tested the following products to assess whether they are affected by this vulnerability. They will waive normal support guidelines to provide remediation for all operating systems that are still in widespread use, regardless of whether they are normally supported or not.

  • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Windows 98
  • Microsoft Windows Me
  • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
  • Microsoft Windows 2000

More information

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  Web site updates

These pages were added/updated in the past week. Information on previously updated/added pages is available on the What's New? page for 1 month.

Added: Microsoft's Optical Mice to be Faster & Speedier than Ever
Added: Can Web Bugs Be Squashed?
Updated: Windows 9x Support Page


Added: Erroneous VeriSign-Issued Digital Certificates Pose Spoofing Hazard
Added: Microsoft to Deliver on Privacy Tools in Internet Explorer
Added: Microsoft Unleashes "Hailstorm"

Windows 2000

Added: Microsoft ships February 2001 Compatibility Update for Windows 2000

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