Gates: The password is dead

Smart cards and 64-bit are the future says Microsoft chief…

Smart cards and 64-bit are the future says Microsoft chief…

Smart cards and 64-bit computing are the future of IT, according to the crystal ball gazing predictions of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

Speaking at Microsoft's annual IT Forum in Copenhagen today, Microsoft's head honcho pronounced the password officially dead and smart cards as the way forward - for the business world and Redmond alike.

Gates described identity management as a "significant source of IT complexity" and predicted that one of the largest security woes for modern computer users - phishing could be scuppered if systems were configured correctly.

"There are a lot of cases of people trying to break into identity systems...if we have identity systems set up properly, we should be able to authenticate which sites you want to give information to... and prevent those phishing people from being effective," he said.

In security terms, passwords, however, are set to go the way of the dodo, according to Gates. "Another major issue for identity systems... the weakness is the password" he said. "We aren't going to be able to rely on passwords."

And what's set to replace the password? A digital identity founded on RFID and biometrics. "We're moving towards to biometrics and smart cards... We're finally seeing leading edge customers taking that step," said Gates.

Redmond, too, has a healthy appetite for its own dog food in the realm of the smart card. As well as forming a partnership with Axalto to create a smartcard based on Microsoft's .Net framework.

"Microsoft will be using smart cards internally - each employee will use the same smart card to get in and out of building and to access their machine... it will completely replace passwords, even for internal access."

And while predicting the decline of the password, Gates lauded the rise of 64-bit computing.

"The arrival of 64-bit - I think that's a really huge thing [and] these 64-bit capabilities will come into your servers with no premium in price," Gates said.

Here, too, Gates said Microsoft is taking a lead for its own use. "We're actually in final stages of testing 64-bit version of Windows. Internally we're running lots of applications on it," he said.

The Redmond giant is currently tapping up 64-bit in its rumble with search arch-rival Google, using it in the back-end. Speaking about MSN Search, Gates added: "It will go beyond what others like Google have done in the past."