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Exclusive Microsoft has been stung into action by Gartner security analyst John Pescatore's conclusion that businesses should ditch IIS - the Beast's own web server - for safer alternatives.

Redmond is telling its sales channel that a rewrite of IIS is underway for version 6.0, and will introduce interim security measures along the lines of the lock-down utility, because, it says, "we also realize customers cannot wait that long."

Most remarkably, it's even mulling whether to leave the web server IIS - along with many other services - uninstalled by default.

The comments are in a bulletin sent to its sales staff and resellers, and seen by The Register.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft adds that "'ripping and replacing' IIS is an over-reaction and a more costly alternative - especially considering that vulnerabilities exist in alternate platforms," it says.

In the bulletin Gartner says it doesn't rate the Beast's chances of hitting its deadline: reckoning there's an 80 per cent chance of the rewritten IIS 6.0 not making it out of the door by the end of next year.

And now the bad news

Indications are that the rewrite of IIS is "partial" and that one feature of the new server in particular troubles IIS users. At its TechEd Forum this year Microsoft promised to implement some httpd functionality into the kernel. In 1996, Microsoft moved some graphics routines into the kernel, gaining performance at the expense of stability.

http.sys will be the name of the new device driver and Microsoft claims it increases SSL performance by up to 900 per cent, and doubles standard cgi performance.

"Does this mean script kiddies will be able to generate BSODS, too?" asks one correspondent. On the face of it, yes.

In the mean time, Microsoft is telling its sales force to tell you that the following options are under consideration:-

  • The IIS Lockdown tool to be included in Windows 2000 Service Pack 3
  • An early release of .NET Server's Auto Update tool, so patches can be pushed down to the server.
  • Removing services from future versions of Windows .NET server, with IIS being one of the services that's disabled by default.

We'll keep you posted. ®

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