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UK academic joins Microsoft Trustworthy Computing think tank

Microsoft has appointed a group of academics to help guide its year-old Trustworthy Computing initiative, forming an academic...

Microsoft has appointed a group of academics to help guide its year-old Trustworthy Computing initiative, forming an academic advisory board to review the company's security and privacy initiatives.  

Dr Chris Mitchell, professor at Royal Holloway College, University of London, joins 13 other experts in computer security and software development from top universities around the world including Stanford, Cornell and Carnegie Mellon.  

The Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory will meet this week and hear presentations from Microsoft on Windows security, projects under development in the company's Security Business Unit and issues related to Internet Explorer and Office products, according to a statement by David Ladd, manager of external research programs for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft.

Microsoft hoped feedback from the board would help it target security investments for Trustworthy Computing, and that developing relationships with leading academics would help to spread its Trustworthy Computing concepts to the computer science departments at universities in the process of turning out the next generation of software engineers.  

John Pescatore, vice president at analyst group Gartner, said part of the initiative was aimed at cleaning up Microsoft's image as an insular and secretive organisation.

"For Microsoft, part of Trustworthy Computing is improving Microsoft's reputation. So part of this is its marketing impact, " Pescatore said.

However, Pescatore believed Microsoft may also benefit from a fast track on new ideas coming out of academia.

"If you look at corporations, most of what they do is development or applied research that's tightly wrapped around a product line. These academics get a whole fresh crop of graduate students in each year. Some of those students have good ideas."

Microsoft has also created a separate five-member committee of legal experts to advise it on privacy issues. It hoped that the international representation on the board would help it anticipate problems resulting from tougher privacy protections in the European Union and elsewhere.  

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