Computer systems and their "organs"--microprocessors, applications and communications networks--are becoming ever more powerful. But they are also becoming ever more complex and therefore more susceptible to failure. As the costs of administration, oversight and downtime expand in response, scientists and engineers in the computer industry are working to enhance the dependability of their products. Significantly, many of their efforts aim to take humans (and the errors they inevitably engender) out of the loop.
Concerned about security holes, bugs and other weaknesses in its present product line, Microsoft's management took the unusual step recently of halting software development for an entire month to focus on what it calls Trustworthy Computing. The issue of dependability has grown in importance as more administrators adopt the company's Windows operating system to run Web servers.