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Microsoft hastily shuts Windows private folder

Tash Shifrin

Microsoft has axed an application that let users create a password protected folder just days after its launch, following concerns raised by corporate users.

Private Folder 1.0 for Windows XP was launched quietly last week as a free Windows Genuine Advantage download, designed to let users set up a password protected folder to store confidential data.

But all references to the application have now vanished from the software giant’s Windows Genuine Advantage “offers” webpage, although it is still accessible by searching the main Microsoft website.

Microsoft described Private Folder 1.0 as “a useful tool for you to protect your private data when your friends, colleagues, kids or other people share your PC or account”.

But business users feared staff could use the application to encrypt data and make it inaccessible. Commenters on the independent MSBlog website expressed incredulity that Microsoft had not thought through the consequences.

One poster, Stuart Graham, criticised Microsoft’s “sloppy release”  of a product without documentation or enterprise management facilities. He asked, “Have they even thought about the impact this could have on enterprises?”

He added, “I’m already trying to frantically find information on this product so that A, I can block to all our desktops and B, figure out how we then support it when users inevitably lose files.”

Network administrator Richard Staley added that the application would cause “chaos” in a corporate environment. “Now I may have to contend with a disgruntled user placing a time-bomb in a private folder that the Domain Admins cannot access,” he wrote.

Microsoft refused to comment on either the launch or the removal of the Private Folder application.

 

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