A Microsoft executive has made public the company’s plans to secure 64-bit versions of Windows from dangerous malware such as rootkits.

According to remarks attributed to Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows server group, Microsoft had put in place a “patch guard” on the Windows kernel, which would make it impossible to append code to the core of the OS while it was running.

Such a design would stop software such as rootkits from hitching into kernel software processes as a means to make themselves appear legitimate.

Current versions of Windows could not benefit from such an approach. "It is incredibly difficult to add that to 32 bit because there are a number of applications that take advantage of it in a valid way," Muglia was reported as saying at the Microsoft IT Forum in Barcelona by news site Techweb.

"When you do a platform transition like this, you can make those sorts of shifts, and kernel mode code has to be updated for 64 bit, anyway."

With Sony’s digital rights management software debacle fresh in everybody’s minds, now was certainly an opportune moment for Microsoft to promote what might otherwise have been an obscure security feature of its new operating system.

Microsoft’s 64-bit Longhorn Server is expected to ship in 2007, with the 64-bit only Release 2 two years later.