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Phoenix targets security, ease of use

The software maker's Core Managed Environment creates protected areas on a PC's hard drive to host sensitive data or applications that alleviate common problems.

Phoenix Technologies is hoping PC manufacturers will latch on to its newest software to help solve PC problems and improve data security.

Phoenix, which creates BIOS software for many of the largest PC manufacturers, branched out this week with the new CME, or Core Managed Environment, software suite.

Where the BIOS (basic input/output system) provides a bridge between a PC's operating system and its hardware, CME will create protected areas on a PC's hard drive that can host sensitive data or applications that alleviate common problems, allowing the computers to run even if the operating system is damaged, the company said.

Phoenix, which will sell the software directly to PC makers for an undisclosed price, becomes the latest in a series of hardware and software makers trying to make PCs easier to use and more secure.

Intel, Transmeta, Via Technologies and Microsoft have recently launched new security initiatives. IBM has also been offering special data recovery software and a security chip in its new PCs. Collectively, the companies are seeking to better protect sensitive data, owned by companies or individuals, against thieves.

Although the security offers--including Intel's "LaGrande" technology, Transmeta's newest Crusoe processor and Via's Padlock--are built into chips or, in the case of Microsoft's Palladium project, into the operating system, Phoenix's CME will reside in a protected area on a PC's hard drive.

CME applications are intended to protect and recover PC users' data and to help the PC itself repair damaged software or connect to the Internet to download updates, the company said in a statement.

Phoenix will also offer versions of CME for embedded devices, such as industrial equipment, consumer electronics and servers.