Trustworthy Computing Group Gets Axe in Microsoft Layoffs

Microsoft has effectively shut down its Trustworthy Computing (TwC) Group as part of a massive round of job cuts.

The layoffs, which are the largest in Microsoft's history and are expected to affect about 18,000 employees, were first announced in July and entered their second phase last Thursday.

About 2,100 Microsoft employees were laid off in this second round, including an "undisclosed number" from the TwC, according to a report Friday by longtime Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley. Those in the TwC who were not affected by the cuts will be split between Microsoft's Cloud & Enterprise and Legal and Corporate Affairs groups, Foley said.

Besides the TwC, Microsoft also closed the doors of its Silicon Valley research group, which was run by engineers and computer scientists to brainstorm future Microsoft products.

The TwC was launched by Microsoft Founder Bill Gates in 2002 as part of an initiative focused on strengthening the entire line of Microsoft products from attacks. Out of the formation of the group came the company's monthly security patch updates, released on the second Tuesday of every month, and the development of free Microsoft security tools like Security Essentials and Defender.

While it's unlikely that Microsoft will abandon its monthly patch releases or security products, it's unclear if and how the transfer of TwC personnel into Microsoft's legal and cloud divisions will change the company's security focus.

In an editorial for GeekWire, former Microsoft Security Response Center member Christopher Budd argued that the TwC was shuttered because it did not directly generate revenue for Microsoft. The infusion of security-focused personnel into the Cloud & Enterprise and Legal and Corporate Affairs groups will help strengthen the connection between security and specific Microsoft products, Budd added.

"TwC was never a revenue-generating group and its power suffered for it," he wrote. "In my opinion from my time there, we were able to get more done as part of Windows than as part of the stand-alone TwC because of that reality. It also puts the security engineering groups closer to the people doing the actual engineering, which is how things really get done at Microsoft."

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