CNET offers a fascinating look at Microsoft's Big Brother technology, Palladium (Next Generation Secure Computing Base, or NGSCB), which sort of came and went with a whimper:

Early this decade, Microsoft weathered unrelenting criticism over a controversial set of technologies known as Palladium, which the company envisioned as creating a kind of secure vault to store passwords or medical records.

Academics warned it could "support remote censorship" and blacklists, likening Palladium to the Soviet Union's efforts to register typewriters and fax machines. Privacy activists predicted it would hand Microsoft "an unprecedented level of control" over the world, and free software doyen Richard Stallman solemnly dubbed it "treacherous computing."

After six years, the supposed world-striding colossus of a technology that once sparked so much fuss is much diminished. NGSCB never did live up to its early promise--or what critics would have said was its early threat as a digital rights management tool that would restrict how people consume content on their PCs and lock them into one vendor.

NGSCB does live on, manifesting itself in Microsoft technology called BitLocker, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed.

BitLocker, the only product to come from the Trusted Computing effort, is a feature in Windows Vista Enterprise and Vista Ultimate and Windows Server 2008 that encrypts the disk drive to protect against data theft or exposure if the computer is lost or stolen.