Microsoft goes on hacker charm offensive

Microsoft has gone into the lion's den, demonstrating some of the early work it has done on the second beta version of its IE7 at the 'Hack in the Box' security conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Microsoft has gone into the lion's den, demonstrating some of the early work it has done on the second beta version of its IE7 at the 'Hack in the Box' security conference in Kuala Lumpur.

It is the first time that Microsoft has presented ahead of a product release specifically to get feedback from a hacker-specific group - or as Microsoft prefers to call them, the 'security research community."

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The company is now working to engage the "community" in the future by making presentations at more hacker conventions and giving attendees a chance to critique some of Microsoft's work before products are released.

Hackers at the show even gave Microsoft some credit for showing them some new security features on the Web browser and seeking their views on the software, a Beta 2 version of which is expected towards the end of the year.

One new feature in the Web browser is that it runs in higher security "protected mode" by default, with lower user privileges. All downloads and other packages are automatically dropped in the temporary Internet files folder, so rogue programs can't be deposited on the hard disk.

Courage. Audacity. Cojones. You have to admire Microsoft's conciliatory approach, ironically in the week an unpatched flaw in the Jet Database Engine within Microsoft Office comes to light. But a long-term love-in with hackers - come on!

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