microsoft10 Jul 2004
“We must also work to change a number of customer perceptions, including the views that older versions of Office and Windows are good enough, and that Microsoft is not sufficiently focused on security.”
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, addressing employees on the urgent need to deceive customers more aggressively, News.com, 6 July 2004
This is an interesting quote. Odd as it may sound coming from an inveterate Microsoft-hater, I don’t blame Microsoft entirely for their security problems. They are walking a remarkably fine line between making a product so usable that the dumbest of the dumb can use it, while maintaining some semblance of security as the #1 most targetted operating system in the world. It’s not a task I envy. Now, some programmers better than I (pretty much anyone) that are up on security might be able to make a case specifically for what Microsoft is doing wrong. All I know is that if the forces of idiocy and malice currently focused on Windows were ever to be unleashed on the UNIX world, I am not convinced it would fare much better – at first, at least.
Regarding the quote specifically: I think the answer to this is remarkably obvious. I, and many others I am sure, are disinclined to ever run the latest version of Windows because of its hardware requirements. WinXP is a bloated pig compared to Windows 2000. The number of user-perceivable changes are small, even if the security has been completely overhauled. If there’s no perceptible reason to upgrade, and it involves buying 512M of RAM and an upgraded processor, many people just won’t do it.
There has never been a security problem in all of my dealings with UNIX that involved changing the bulk of my operating system entirely, much less upgrading my physical computer, to fix.
A while back there was a rumbling about the specs for the new release of Longhorn:
Microsoft is expected to recommend that the “average” Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today.
Now, I have since heard that this was bogus, and perhaps that these were just for a “target” system. Let’s hope, for Microsoft’s sake, that it was. Otherwise, they are going to have a whole lot of people opting to stick with Windows 2000 or XP.