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Microsoft Under Attack - Part 2

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the the-saga-continues dept.

Microsoft 472

bugbeak writes "Part 2 of BBC's report on Microsoft at its 'most vulnerable moment in history' is available. According to the article, there are six battles Microsoft must go through in order to stay afloat and win, ranging from 'sort out security' (#1) to 'get them young' (#3). The first part of the article series was also linked by Slashdot." From the article: "Already Microsoft is spending 30% to 35% of its research and development budget on security issues, [Gates] says. His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

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Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (5, Funny)

ats-tech (770430) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508860)

What an oportune moment for that message.

Re:Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (0, Redundant)

ninja_assault_kitten (883141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509126)

Does anyone really believe MS is going anywhere? Sorry people, they're not.

ANAKIN SKYWALKER IS DARF VADAR!!!`1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508863)

warning, spoiler in subject

heh (4, Funny)

Paris The Pirate (799954) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508866)

'get them young' (#3).



Just like the tabacco industry!

Re:heh (5, Interesting)

QMO (836285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508966)

Clothing and toy manufacturers have managed to get their customers to be brand concious by age 2.

(Thanks Barney, Elmo)

Re:heh (1)

Smuttley (126014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509045)

"Oh, if only we had their numbers"

Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509054)

or NAMBLA.

The problem is internal (5, Interesting)

bananahead (829691) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508871)

Microsoft's problems are as much internal as they are external. Certainly the company is under siege from many different directions, but that is the way free enterprise is supposed to work. Microsoft has been under siege for the last 15 years as the VC community and starry-eyed entrepreneurs took them on in every possible direction. This is the way it is, and this is the way it should be. Some will say it is more extreme now, but I suspect they have always said that. Microsoft likes being under siege, it gives them all a sense of purpose other than adding 16 more features to a word processor. It actually motivates them.

That said, the bigger problem, as I have stated in the past, is internal. In the past Microsoft has been able to respond to a siege by motivating the troops and getting the job done. IE was possibly the last great example of the Microsoft development engine at work. Now, it is almost impossible for Microsoft to rally the developer troops for that kind of siege-mentality response. The employee apathy is thick. The old-timers can still get it up, those that are still there and haven't joined Ignition Partners or retired, but you have to keep in mind that most of the developers and program managers there today weren't there 5 years ago, and only know Microsoft as a bloated software factory. The glory years, the rally cry of Ballmer and Gates, the late night and weekender coding marathons and the 'death march' mentality are all just stories of the past. The current typical Microsoft employee is more of the 'hey, I have a family and a life, this can wait' style. Certainly there are pockets of exceptions, but generally speaking, the engine is running a bit cold.

Without the means to execute, the siege will take its toll.

Re:The problem is internal (5, Insightful)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508962)

GETTING a young company to a position of dominance is thrilling and exciting. People get rich along the way which helps too. MAINTAINING that dominance is harder. There aren't as many chances to get rich and it is harder to climb the ladder quickly. In addition to the apathy which is an inevitable result of becoming a mature and established company, MS is now the King of several Hills. Now it is knocking them off that is thrilling and exciting.

If MS diversified more and didn't obsess over absolutely dominating the industry, they wouldn't be such the target. As it is, they are the "Evil Empire" and the Huns and Mongols getting hungry and sharpening their swords.

Re:The problem is internal (3, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509035)

If MS diversified more

Diversified more??

Come on, MS is already in:

- Gaming
- TV
- Internet
- Computer
- Telephones
- Handhelds

And several others I do not know... they only need to have their own cereal!

If Microsoft concentrated in doing ONE thing (ok, two or three things) right, THEN he would not have all these problems.

Microsoft SHOULD specificaly work on Microsoft Windows AND Microsoft Office. Make them lot a hell better (For example, at least allowing to quickly change the pointer type when I am making a presentation, instead of showing the right-click menu); that way they will be seen better.

Re:The problem is internal (2)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509167)

It depends on the orginal posters intent, but if the point is Microsoft needs to realize that "Windows" is a liability in other markets, they would ultimately be better off. Right now, Microsoft has the mentality that Windows must be tied to every product they make.

Re:The problem is internal (4, Insightful)

bananahead (829691) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509184)

All good points. The obsession comes from Bill, he hates to lose and drives the research groups very hard. The domination push comes from Ballmer. I was at a management session several years ago where he talked about his overall goals for Microsoft (this was an internal management meeting). He waxed on about how many hours a day people used Microsoft software. Given Windows and Office, he figured it was about 6-7 hours a day that people used a Microsoft product. He went on to state that there were, therefore, 18 or so hours a day that people weren't using Microsoft software, and HE WANTED THOSE 18 HOURS!. His goal, and you gotta love the guy for it, was that people should be using Microsoft software 24 hours a day.

The obsession and drive from Ballmer and Gates are still there, my point is that the engine that pushes the Microsoft race car forward needs a serious valve job.

Re:The problem is internal (1)

msaulters (130992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508989)

I think the parent is one of the best arguments I've seen for M$ voluntarily spinning off a few of its products into separate companies. But they're not gonna do it. Gates talking about Longhorn preventing software being installed w/o the user's knowledge is hard to believe, because I can't see M$ giving up the ability to do that themselves.

It would be really great, though. I blame M$ completely for all the spyware, adware, and other CRAP that can appear on your system just by mistyping a single URL, even with all the available security options enabled. If fixing that is what's holding up Longhorn, then maybe it'll be worth the wait. I'm fed up with 'innovation' that provides 'features' I don't want at the expense of performance and opening up the system to spyware/adware. It's about time they actually worked on improving what they've got instead of just changing around the UI, forcing clueless users to re-learn how to use the computer.

Re:The problem is internal (5, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508996)

Microsoft, for all its faults, is still a desirable company for most techies to work at. They pay well, their name looks very good on a resume, and they have a history of having a rather geek-friendly corporate culture.

No, they can't talk their employees into working past sunset all weekend long like in the 90s... but then again, no company has been able to do that since the .com bubble burst and techies finally realized that looking after yourself and your family is far more important than living up to the dreams of your CEO.

Microsoft's shitty security has been a result of a short-sighted lack of emphasis, not capacity. Now that they are making it a priority, I have no doubt that Longhorn will be a relatively secure OS.

Whenever it arrives, that is. Meanwhile... fuck it, I'm using OS X.

Re:The problem is internal (2, Interesting)

JustOK (667959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509064)

they can't talk their employees into working past sunset all weekend long like in the 90s... but then again, no company has been able to do that since the .com bubble burst and techies ...
uh, EA? Well, I suppose they don't "talk" their employees into it anymore, more like threaten...

The problem is the market. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509078)

The problem is that MS already have 90% of the PC ad Office markets. With Linux and Open Office being free they can no longer compete on price or leverage in that market as they have in the past. They are now going after niche markets against companies that know exactly what they are doing, who do it very well and who are already entrenched.

Re:The problem is internal (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509142)

I tend to think that windows2000 and the .net environment were pretty significant for microsoft.

This is predictable (0, Troll)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508873)

Anyone could predict that microsoft is currently vulnerable. They are losing their sustainable competative advantage and losing their market domination cannot be too far off.

Re:This is predictable (2, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508926)

How many stories have I read here stating that "Microsoft is scared!" or "Microsoft is in trouble!"? How long has this been going on?

I'll start believing it when large retailers like Dell start refusing to ship units with a Microsoft OS pre-installed.

Until then, I'm going to regard stories like this as nothing more than wishful thinking.

Re:This is predictable (2)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508963)

I don't actually care what the "experts" say. I don't think m$ is actually "scared". I do, however, believe that companies need sustainable competative advantage to compete. Tell me, what is micro$oft's advantage?

Re:This is predictable (4, Insightful)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509069)

Market share in almost every market they are in?

Billions in thier war-chest?

Billions in R&D?

HUGE network of partners and providers?

.............

Hey, not saying they are untouchable and couldn't fall but you really have to ask what thier advantages are???????

Re:This is predictable (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509145)

I wouldn't call any of those things sustainable advantages. What is to stop competitors from taking their market away? Money? that will stop when the sales stop. You can't use money to maintain a competative advantage without some other advantage to leverage.

Re:This is predictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509082)

Most people who use the term "M$" believe that Microsoft's products never had any advantages and MS achived dominance soley through divine providence or historical accident etc. In otherwords, it's not worth it trying to explain it to you.

Re:This is predictable (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509115)

"Tell me, what is micro$oft's advantage?"

Take your pick:

Arrangements with schools to get kids hooked on M$ applications

De-facto standard desktop OS

Games, games, games

Not that I wouldn't mind seeing something better come along, but right now, Microsoft works best for most people, and I don't see that changing particularly soon.

I'd love to see Linux prosper as a desktop OS, but sadly developers are not getting adequate cooperation from hardware manufacturers.

Already struggling (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509028)

Perhaps you haven't heard that Microsoft's stock price is flat, that they're losing market share in servers, that China and India are focused on Linux for the desktop? Yes, stock price matters. The stock market has a way of seeing through the BS because money is at stake.

In the past Microsoft has used its OS monopoly and its control of the API to kill competition. Linux, the web, and other technologies will leave Microsoft in the dustbin if they don't get off their collective lazy butts and take advantage of their position to do some innovation that will secure their place in the business market.

Until then, they are like the phone company or the electricity company; they provide a particular function, but they don't show much promise for the future.

Re:Already struggling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509107)

that China and India are focused on Linux for the desktop?
Who cares? What with these countries' rampant piracy and general disregard for IP, Microsoft makes neglible revenue from Chinese and Indian markets, and Linux on the desktop is not going to improve for the rest of us as China and India are likely to keep their improvements to themselves. It's a non-issue for MS.

Re:Already struggling (2, Funny)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509123)

OK, I agree with almost everything you are saying but one part made me laugh ;-)

The stock market has a way of seeing through the BS because money is at stake

-Enron?
-WorldCom?
-Global Crossing?

Re:This is predictable (1)

mtrupe (156137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509124)

"Anyone could predict that microsoft is currently vulnerable. They are losing their sustainable competative advantage and losing their market domination cannot be too far off."

U, really? This doesn't seem to be the truth. I know you probably don't like MS, but spewing lies doesn't change anything.

Re:This is predictable (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509158)

IMHO their biggest problem is that their business model is based on their market domination. Even their entry into new markets is based on having SO much revenue from Windows/Office and SO big a war chest that they can survive the early losses. Being based primarily on dominance is dangerous, because even serious questioning of that dominance creates vulnerability.

The other downside is that they have to enter new markets (not just one market) in order to keep growing, and the flipside of diversification is "death of a thousand paper cuts." Sometimes it's tough to tell just which side you're on.

Heard this before...? (1)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508889)

the next version of the Windows operating system, will make 'a thing of the past'

Re:Heard this before...? (3, Insightful)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508913)

bloody formatting.....

the next version of the Windows operating system, will make {insert current scare here}'a thing of the past'

Re:Heard this before...? (2, Funny)

dances with elks (863490) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508917)

I think he means it won't work long enough for security to be a problem

From the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508890)

"And "do you really want to have your security issues discussed by the Linux developer community on a public bulletin board," queries Alistair Baker of Microsoft UK."

That's YOU /.! For shame. Tisk Tisk. ;P

Re:From the article... (1)

QMO (836285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508999)

Or, perhaps you'd rather not know your security issues. W'll discuss them where you can't participate and save you the headache.

Easy remote exploits in MS products (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509154)

Actually the article perpetuates the myth that MS products get compromised becaused MS is a big target. To be sure, that fails to address the question of why so many of the attacks on MS products are successful? Or the foundation for that, which is, why are there so many exploits in MS products compared to others.

Large market share does not equal bad quality for other vendors. The usual illustration is Apache vs MS-IIS or MySQL/Postgresql/Oracle vs MS-SQL.

It'd be nice to see an article from the BBC get that correctly.

MS new marketing campaign. (3, Insightful)

phorest (877315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508891)

Obviously going after Apple's iPod world with the line "Windows powered software & devices". MS is a smart company, don't think for a moment they are "that vulnerable" They have the money to market their products and market they will.

Re:MS new marketing campaign. (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509033)

Obviously going after Apple's iPod world with the line "Windows powered software & devices".

You must be surely joking. Windows-compatible - yes, that's a good selling point. But Windows-powered? Even among Windows users - or even people who are actively anti-Linux or anti-Apple - nobody really advocates virtues of Windows as such. The key virtues are abundance of software and great hardware support (and then again, even the most pro-Linux or pro-Apple guys cannot deny them). But there is no positive brand association like "it is Windows powered, so it must be good", while you have that with Linux ("it runs Linux - so it must be rock stable!") or Apple ("it's made by Apple, so it will be probably easy to use!"). I would even say that Microsoft logo is already more a burden than advantage. XBox was not really a stunning success, especially when you consider the money they pumped into trying to promote it. Indeed, they still have the money, but the whole empire is just built around Windows (there would be no success for Internet Explorer if it wasn't bundled with Windows etc.). And they seem to have problems even with this very foundation of their power - Longhorn might be Microsoft's Copland (footnote: failed OS that Apple was promising for years and never delivered, what almost killed the company).

and I quote: (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508893)

"His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge "a thing of the past"."
-Bill Gates

So longhorn isn't due out for a year or so or two or three. They expect their customers to wait that long? This shouldn't be such a complicated issue.

Re:and I quote: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508968)

So does anyone know, will there be a windows update button? The buggy stuff from support.microsoft.com is the malware we should be most concerned about.

Re:and I quote: (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508972)

What he means is that there will still be malware, users will just know about it now when it hits their computer.

The Red Screen of Death will most likely be the big give-away.

Re:and I quote: (4, Funny)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508988)

"His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge "a thing of the past"."
-Bill Gates


That just might possibly dethrone the 640kb crack. I know, I know, it isn't what he meant and is misconstrued. THIS little gem is fairly unambigous. Yes, let's remember it.

Re:and I quote: (1)

ntshma (864614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509009)

I'm quite happy with my Win XP Pro system as it is. It does everything I need or want it to do, I can't remember the last time it crashed on me (a year at least, it stays on 24/7 and I do a reboot only when an install or update requires it), and I use software and good practices to keep my system and home network safe from the bad guys. Yes, I can wait quite a long time for Longhorn if it will be good enough to make me want to upgrade.

Re:and I quote: (1)

mtrupe (156137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509161)

The truth is MS users will wait that long. They don't have a choice and MOST users (not slashdot types) don't care what OS they use, they just want their computer to work. They don't know about the details at the level that we here do. MS isn't going to lose anything, they are simply to strong and ingrained in the market. Its the truth...

Security is complicated (2, Insightful)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509162)

But it is such a complicated issue. First, there is the technical problem of backward compatibility illustrated by the Windows "shatter" attack. Second, there is the bigger issue of users. Even if your email client doesn't immediately execute every piece of code it encounters, users are still going to download and run it manually - because they "just have" to see the dancing pink elephants. It doesn't help to have user and admin modes. Users won't remember an admin password. And even if they do, they have no clue when to use it. ("Please enter your admin password so that Dancing Pink Elephants can be installed.")

Most of Microsoft's customers are of the completely security clueless variety. The only way to protect such customers from themselves is to take away their freedom to run the software of their choice (because their choices are so stupid - even discounting the choice of MS). This is why trusted/treacherous computing is so important to Microsoft. The end user is the biggest security hole.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It turns a Microsoft computer into a dedicated appliance rather than a general purpose computer - but there is a market for that. The danger for the free world is that Microsoft would like to make general purpose computers illegal except for (Microsoft) licensed developers.

Computer literacy? (5, Interesting)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508900)

From the article:

And it takes a fairly computer-literate user to install and maintain the open source operating system on a personal computer.

I read this and instantly started thinking about this exactly how many window users can maintain there windows box properly? 90% of the users out there have no idea how to keep there windows updated, how to reinstall windows. The only difference is that Windows came preloaded on their machines. Now this is the only difference between the two operating systems. If a Linux machine came preloaded on a computer already with all the drivers installed it is the same exact thing on how people get their machines from dell.

Re:Computer literacy? (4, Insightful)

blowdart (31458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508943)

90% of the users out there have no idea how to keep there windows updated, how to reinstall windows.

By default the OS will keep itself updated, checking for updates and installing them, or prompting you to install them. Turning that off causes a little "You're at risk" icon to appear in the toolbar. Home users just see the updates come down and install.

To reinstall it's put the restore CD in the drive and boot. Normally that will load up the correct 3rd party drivers as the PC manufacturer has put those into the restore process.

Users don't need or want to know how to do these things, but if it becomes necessary it shouldn't take more than 5 keypresses.

Re:Computer literacy? (0, Offtopic)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509079)

sorry man, but you have just burned your karma... I am sure your comment will be modded down into oblivion... as will mine. Remember, this IS SlashDot and the penalty for defending Microsoft is a -2 Sucker mod...

Downside of good automatic updates (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509091)

will be more ARP and DNS attacks, in order to subvert the link to the update machine. It's just too tasty a target. The update machine MAY even be secure, but even if it isn't, compromising it would set off too many alarm bells. Working back at the ISP level is easier, compromises sufficient machines, and doesn't set off as many alarms. This of course presumes that any signature mechanism can be subverted.

Re:Downside of good automatic updates (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509134)

The updates are signed with a very specific key, so simply hijacking DNS/route corruption wouldn't do much. Also, of course, you'd have to replication the service at the Microsoft end, responding to querys from various update clients asking if something new is available.

Re:Computer literacy? (1)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509119)

By default [Windows] will keep itself updated, checking for updates and installing them, or prompting you to install them.

Many Linux distros can be configured to do the same thing and shipped pre-installed by the manufacturer, just like Windows is.

To reinstall [Windows] it's put the restore CD in the drive and boot. You mean the CD that most people throw out with the packaging once they turn their computer on the first time? With a Linux distro, you just download and burn a free replacement CD from the web when you need it. Not any more difficult than downloading and burning MP3s from the net that people are doing all the time now.

Re:Computer literacy? (4, Interesting)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508948)

how many window users can maintain their windows box properly

Apparently not even Sir William H. Gates III can [eweek.com] *. He has been hit by malware and spyware in the past.

*Details in the fifth paragraph.

Re:Computer literacy? (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509020)

Your count is way off!!!

Make that 99.99% and you are closer to the mark. People don't install Windows, factories do, and having installed it myself a few times I understand why. It is actually longer and harder than FC3...

Mac OS is a system that installs quite well (just don't try installing on a HD not blessed by Apple...).

this sounds like a case of... (1)

distantbody (852269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508903)

...desperate times, desperate measures. i dont think its unfair to say that as linux slowly becomes more popular and MS's main competitor releases a damn good OS (OSX tiger), that MS might be worried about its place in the market. Who knows maybe in ten years time Microsoft wont exist...stranger things have happened.

Malware (3, Funny)

FrankNputer (141316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508904)

Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'." I imagine a pretty little balloon that says "You've got Malware! Click here for details..."

Re:Malware (1, Funny)

telecsan (170227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508946)

Clippy says, "I see you're trying to install Malware. Let me help you..."

Already there: (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508954)

the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'.


In the windows monopoly, the software comes preinstalled on the computer and the user is not allowed to take it off.

And maybe (-1, Offtopic)

RLW (662014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508907)

I'm a chinese fighter pilot.

microsoft is done (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508908)

Microsoft earned $0.75 per share in its 2004 fiscal year. That's hardly impressive for a stock that sells for nearly $28 a share. If Microsoft is done growing then its investors are going to be very unhappy. That's a return of just under 3% a year. A year with no revenue growth would be even worse.

Not to mention the fact that there is little guarantee that Microsoft will continue to be able to rake in the kind of money that they are currently pulling in. Unearned revenue continues to go down, and Linux continues to gain marketshare. Eventually MSFT investors are going to get tired of waiting for the growth to return and MSFT is going to drop like a rock. When that happens Microsoft is going to *look* vulnerable. Right now the folks selling for Red Hat and Novell have to convince their clients that they aren't crazy when they forgo the safe path of purchasing Windows. Folks that roll out Linux solutions are still taking a fairly big risk. They are betting on a David facing up against the biggest Goliath in the history of industry, and the reason that the story of David and Goliath made it into the Bible was because in real life David's get squashed. Everyone likes an underdog, but only when they win.

A serious drop in MSFT would be hitting the behemoth right smack between the eyes, and such a drop is overdue.

Re:microsoft is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508956)

"That's a return of just under 3% a year."

Hell yes very disappointing, you might aswell just stick your investment cash in a savings account.

Re:microsoft is done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509052)

That would put MSFT's P/E ratio in the 30's. Over the last 3 years, the P/E has been anywhere from 20 to 40. Over the last ten, it has been anywhere from 20 to 75.

However, since MSFT is no longer a growth stock, they should make sure the P/E comes down.

Spin-offs (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508909)

Microsoft has simply gotten too large. Gates was never good at turning the company on a dime, and in todays market, as TFA points out, he's even more screwed if he cannot do so. A spin-off is the most logical choice: spin the apps into a seperate company and leave the OS and other "core" products with MS.

Having said that, I'll concede that this won't happen until both Gates and Balmer retire, but it won't take too terribly long after that, either.

The cure is worse than the disease... (4, Insightful)

phayes (202222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508912)

"His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

By using TCPA to lock out all non Microsoft authorized software & just coincidentally eliminate the open software threat to the Microsoft Monopoly.

Sorry, I refuse to play along...

Microsoft v. Linux (5, Interesting)

vishbar (862440) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508915)

Before I say this, let it be known that I am just as much of a Linux zealot as you probably are.

My father works for the local power company developing customer support systems. Rather than an Open Source alternative, such as Linux, they opted to go with Microsoft Windows. The reason? Costs. They figured that the TCO of Linux, including support, training developers, etc. would actually be more expensive than the licensing fees that a Windows solution would incur.

This being said, I would have personally gone with a Linux setup. I think that the former situation exemplifies one of the biggest misconceptions about Linux: people think that, because it's not provided by a corporation, if you have a problem, you're screwed. That's why the support services provided by Red Hat and IBM are so vital. Corporations can't just go on a developer's word that their system works well. They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch. Red Hat provides a much-needed corporate backing to an already-great operating system. Most of the misconceptions out there about Linux are due to FUD spread by MS. If the open source community can simply overcome the stereotypes of Linux as having no support at all, then I think we'll see Linux begin to totally take over MS's marketshare.

Re:Microsoft v. Linux (5, Insightful)

Seydlitz (690174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508979)

They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch

Erm - if they honestly believe they can sue Microsoft for loss of data or, indeed, anything at all, they are sorely mistaken. Have they read the EULA recently? Microsoft are NOT liable for anything that Windows does - their fault or not.

At least with IBM & Linux you have a support framework in place - unlike Windows, where support is patchy at best.

Re:Microsoft v. Linux (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509118)

IBM will happily support Windows, you know. In fact, they are one of Microsoft's largest support partners.

Nobody's thinking about suing anyone for lost data. That's just stupid. It's all about political fingerpointing within the IT organization. (Oh the system crashed. That damn Microsoft/IBM/RedHat/etc! Not our fault!)

Re:Microsoft v. Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509003)

I think the reason for their decision is that M$ is "corporate/established" whereas Open Source is "new/outside". That's how local power company management "thinks".

Re:Microsoft v. Linux (4, Informative)

phayes (202222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509057)

"They need someone that they can sue if something goes hugely wrong and they lose everything due to an operating system glitch."

Red-Herring: No-one, I repeat, No-one has ever successfully sued MS for damages after something went hugely wrong due to a bug in Windows. According to the Windows Terms of Use, damages are limited to what was paid for Windows.

Isn't it because.. (1)

c0ldfusi0n (736058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508931)

It's the first time in Microsoft's history that common folks are aware of Microsoft's flaws and its concurrent products? Go back two years, what alternative did a normal joe had to Windows & IE? Nowadays, Linux is becoming more and more user friendly and browsers are popping up like crazy since Firefox/Opera and the likes have gone widely public.

Or a better exemple, would you even dare to imagine a full-page NY Times Firefox ad two years from now?

Re:Isn't it because.. (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509004)

plus the iPod has increased awareness of Apple and Macs. and most laptops on TV are noew iBooks or Powerbooks because they look better.

so even more options.

the biggest thing in MS's favour is laziness. but if they introduce this Trusted Computing BS and force people to change their ways... GAME OVER.

too funny, as usual (1)

motorsabbath (243336) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508932)

[Gates] says. His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

Too funny. Thanks Bill, I needed a laugh. even people who work on reasonably secure systems wouldn't float so much hubris. My niece's little plastic swimming pool is deeper than this man's knowledge of computer security...Well, as vaporware Longhorn is certainly secure.

Re:too funny, as usual (5, Funny)

QMO (836285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509059)

He'll do it by changing the definition of malware.

Nonono.. he's right! (1)

schon (31600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509147)

Read between the lines..

He's not saying that they'll stop malicious software from being installed, he's saying that all malicious software will alert the user that they're being installed..

And how do they do that?

The MS installer will ensure that all non-MS software will present a warning saying that it might be malicious

See? It's easy!

35% of Budget on security ?! (0, Offtopic)

AT-SkyWalker (610033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508934)

ROFL ! You'd think a company with such a huge R&D budget of which 35% is allocated to security would get it right !

Why is it that every HUGE budget allocated to some pursuit of security always almost leads to UnSecurity.

Seems the people in charge of Security at MS are the same ones responisble for "HomeLand Security" :-)

Gates is an idiot (ok, we knew that) (1)

KZigurs (638781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508938)

"malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

It's not the software that is the problem. The issue is that users will STILL accept anything offered. Install weather toolbars and so on. And the fact that windows make it so ridicilously natural and easy that there simply isn't a different choice.

I don't know what could be the answer. A good approach would be to outlaw internet access to any computer with windows installed.

Mod parent up! (1, Interesting)

Professor S. Brown (780963) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509037)

Easy to use operating systems like Windows are inherently insecure. However, on Linux users must manually resolve library dependencies in any malware they download, and many also require the user to compile malware themselves. Only a very small amount of malware comes with a GUI for installation but even then they must navigate a cumbersome, ugly interface. It must be said in this regard that Linux is far more secure in this regard.

Re:Gates is an idiot (ok, we knew that) (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509171)

The issue is that users will STILL accept anything offered. Install weather toolbars and so on

One of the problems with getting Linux into the mainstream is that it's not easy for the average Mom to install something she actually wants, like a weather toolbar. Some things, in the Windows (XP in particular) environment remain difficult/non-intuitive to mess around with, but those things that the users want to be able to play with have been made reachable and fairly simple to alter. Yes, that's also where the problems come in. But to suggest that the solution to the problem is to make the environment un-alterable (in the way that a typical user, not a fanboy would understand it), that's going to stop people from letting third-party tools take care of the thinking for them... and that's just what the average user wants (not to have to think).

I know it's impossible for anyone reading material from this web site to put aside what they know (or to pretend that they don't have technical critical thinking skills), but you've got to look at this from the point of view of an administrative assistant, a shopkeeper, a grandma, or a dance student.

A good approach would be to outlaw internet access to any computer with windows installed.

That sort of smugness is all that the average Windows-using person hears from most Linux enthusiasts. The holier-than-thou smack talk does more to keep people from looking into Linux than anything that Bill Gates could do or not do to Windows.

Double-edged sword (2, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508953)

"His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

Uh, yeah Bill, we've heard this promise before. I'm not holding my breath over any Microsoft promise that ends with "a thing of the past." The past keeps coming back to haunt you with Windows.

However, let's assume this time Microsoft really, really gets it right. If so, it won't be only malware that has a hard time on your computer. With their Palladium-- er sorry, Next Generatio-- er whatever they call it this week, your own software won't trust you. Can I play this music? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Can I see this movie? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Or more accurately, let's ask the systems Microsoft has put in place to handle permissioning. Yeah, they can isolate malware, but the means by which they will do this will also isolate your own stuff every time it thinks you do not have permission to run/view it.

Re:Double-edged sword (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509094)

Highlighting of two important points about NGSCB mine:

Q: I have heard that NGSCB will force people to run only Microsoft-approved software.

A: This is simply not true. The nexus-aware security chip (the SSC) and other NGSCB features are not involved in the boot process of the operating system or in its decision to load an application that does not use the nexus. Because the nexus is not involved in the boot process, it cannot block an operating system or drivers or any nexus-unaware PC application from running. Only the user decides what nexus-aware applications get to run. Anyone can write an application to take advantage of new APIs that call to the nexus and related components without notifying Microsoft or getting Microsoft's approval.

It will be possible, of course, to write applications that require access to nexus-aware services in order to run. Such an application could implement access policies that would require some type of cryptographically signed license or certificate before running. However, the application itself would enforce that policy and this would not impact other nexus-aware applications. The nexus and NCAs isolate applications from each other, so it is not possible for an individual nexus-aware application to prevent another one from running.

Q: Will I still be able to play MP3s on my PC with NGSCB?

A: You will. NGSCB will not interfere with the operation of any program that runs on current PCs. The nexus and nexus computing agents are designed never to impose themselves on processes that do not request their services; nexus-related features must be explicitly requested by a program. So the MP3 player a user has today should by design still work on a next-generation PC tomorrow.

-----------

Some more food for thought:

Q: How can anyone be sure that the nexus and related components do exactly what you claim they do?

A: Microsoft will make widely available for review the source code of the trusted computing base so it can be evaluated widely and validated.

-----------

(source) [microsoft.com]

Re:Double-edged sword (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509136)

However, let's assume this time Microsoft really, really gets it right. If so, it won't be only malware that has a hard time on your computer. With their Palladium-- er sorry, Next Generatio-- er whatever they call it this week, your own software won't trust you. Can I play this music? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Can I see this movie? Dunno, let's ask Microsoft. Or more accurately, let's ask the systems Microsoft has put in place to handle permissioning.

This is not just a Microsoft thing - this is the future of computing in general. Not only will your computer check for permission to play a song, but your coffeemaker will check for permission to brew specific grounds - the Melitta One brewer is just a sneak peek at what is to come.

Let's face it - the Gillette model of revenue works. Exceptionally well. To a CEO who is focused only on increasing revenue - as CEOs are hired to do - to ignore this opportunity is a career-ending move.

Again, it comes back to the cash (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508959)

MS has a huge warchest. This always comes up when people start speculating that MS is going down. I don't think people fully comprehend what this money will do for MS.

It will allow them to go through a complete denial cycle. When they finally realize that their business model and software is flawed, they will still have plenty left to turn it around.

The only way MS would be in any danger is if they somehow lost all that money. And the only real way I can see that happening is through legal actions. Multiple. With big payouts. Then, when MS starts to go through their "problem phase", they won't have enough cash to see them through their denial cycle, and they could potentially flop at that point. Potentially. Keep in mind, however, that there is so much momentum behind them, that'd be a remote possibility, even then.

MS is a reality we will have to deal with for a long time. I applaud the folks working on Mono, they at least grasp this concept.

Re:Again, it comes back to the cash (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509027)

MS itself isn't in any real danger. They will be around for years and most likely decades to come. What IS in danger is the "nobody gets fired for buying MS" mentality. THAT isn't going to last forever. If they don't cluefully deal with it then yes they're (eventually) doomed. Wiser heads will prevail before hubris utterly destroys them.

Re:Again, it comes back to the cash (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509113)

Wiser heads will prevail before hubris utterly destroys them.

There's optimism, and then there's fantasy land. Wiser heads almost never prevail. PHBs prevail. While the wiser heads are banging their heads agains the wall.

What IS in danger is the "nobody gets fired for buying MS" mentality

No it isn't. And it won't be for a very long time. At least until the baby boomers begin retiring, then who knows? Let me tell you why: Software. If I am a dental office, for example, my choices for office programs are all windows based. And even if I somehow manage to find a practice management software that ISN'T windows based, I'm still screwed if I want to take xrays.

This isn't isolated. This is common. For the momentum to shift away from MS a whole slew of software and services will have to come out that replace the much needed functionality of the windows anchored software packages. Which won't happen with the baby boomers being in charge and being close enough to retirement that they don't want to start anything so large of a project.

Preventing 'malware' (2, Insightful)

jtpalinmajere (627101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508974)

It'd be interesting what kind of software Microsoft's 'malware' envelope covers. Not that I don't like a bunch of MS software, but this is starting to sound more and more like "you can only run approved software on windows"... though I'm sure that isn't actually the intent... yet.

Bill's Promise (1)

cyber_rigger (527103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12508984)


I'll settle for a money back guarantee.

Cant find the quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12508995)

Cant find the quote, but hasnt he said:
"Windows will be so easy computer magazines will be a thing of the past" ?

Duh... (4, Insightful)

mattmentecky (799199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509000)

Explain to me, when a company (or anything for that matter) is on top (Come on people, Microsoft has a ton of cash, and a ton of marketshare in lots of areas) logically are they not the most vulnerable? I mean, they have no where to go but down. It seems every so often that reporters need a fluff piece to phone-in so they choose a company in whatever field and do an "investigative" piece to determine the company vulerable.

It is how the market works, when you are on top people focus on your vulnerabilities in order to bring you down.

why not unix? (1)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509002)

I have always wondered why M$ doesn't make like apple, and take a unix or unix like kernel and give it a nifty windowsy interface. Maybe that would be too much like admitting defeat, that their NT kernel sucks. They could even hire FOSS coders and make their own Lindows distro.

Re:why not unix? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509090)

legacy...

They would be to be able to run existing programs. And since none of their programs run with open standards nobody has OSS replacements.

So that means say they make a new OS... say OS2 [hehehe] they would have to port office, outlook, etc... to it.

Had they used open formats the OSS community would be able to get there much quicker thus making the OS much more attractive [but also cutting into their bottom dollar].

Essentially MSFT is making themself largely obsolete as more and more people move to OSS tools. You still have people using the MSFT tools but they tend to be older.

So really the question is, will there be a MSFT in 20 years? My hunch is if they are around they will be a very different company in terms of culture. Likely they will have to embrace open standards.

It wouldn't blow my mind in 5 years to see [for example] Word being able to open OpenOffice documents and saving in a format that is well documented.

Tom

That battle the article missed... (4, Interesting)

CHESTER COPPERPOT (864371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509029)

I like how they use the word battle. Lately I've been reading a book called The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050 [amazon.com] . The book centers around what makes a succesful military revolution. Since they are using the term 'battles' and are in need of a revolution of sorts I'll point out what the book stated.

The basic crux of the book is that concentrating on technology doesn't make a revolution nor does it win battles. All 6 battles in the article revolve around marketing and technology. It's pretty sad state of affairs when people solely concentrate on technology and the marketing thereof over other aspects. What makes a more successful state of revolution in battle is the coalescing of technology, organization, strategy, internal culture and leadership. I would like to see such an analysis done on Microsoft.

How is M$ leadership?

How is M$ internal culture? Does it have low morale or high hopes for the future?

What is the make up of M$ strategic culture? Do they have any other strategy apart from monopolizing?

Such questions would give a much more accurate picture for the future of M$ success.

"Get into the living room" (1)

dgos78 (881140) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509034)

It's one thing to get a BSOD on your monitor. It's common and expected. It's another to get it on your 52" HDTV. That would just prompt anger and a broken window, with cords dangling behind where the MS entertainment whatever used to be.

Without user's knowlege (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509041)

"His promise: Longhorn, the next version of the Windows operating system, will make malicious software (malware) that gets onto computers without the users' knowledge 'a thing of the past'."

And how many people click the "Yes! I want this ActiveX control" button?

The problem with having 90+% of the market share is that following the Rule of Suckage, 90% of the people out there suck. The vast majority of windows users simply aren't educated enough to know whats going on, and simply agree.

This isn't something that can be fixed by software, hardware, or anything else, other than a glock and several tons of ammo.

Most vunerable moment in its history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12509073)

I would think that Microsoft was more vunerable very early in its history. For instance, when IBM first approached them to make DOS, Microsoft referred IBM to Digital Research.

Bold Message (1)

mtrupe (156137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509108)

I'll take it--and I hope he's right. There are many MS cynics here. This comment will either bite Bill or lead to great things for Microsoft. So be it. Why be angry?

No! Not Skype Please! (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509109)

Microsoft is tackling firms like Skype by integrating Voice-over-Internet telephony into its Messenger software.

Oh no, Microsoft please do not do anything to Skype... I use their service and is really fine (I use SkypeOut)...

I will be praying asking that Microsoft do not buy them... =o( please?

NEWS FLASH! (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509125)

Microsoft promises NEXT version of their product will be the answer to everyone's wishes!

Oh gee, I hadn't heard them claim that before.

Oh wait, I DID.

That's what they said about Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows (put whatever name you want here)

Long story short, Microsoft's software is NOT good, and they can't have the same level of quality that open-source has.

Avoid them at all costs unless you really want to give the more money.

Give your money to open-source projects, at least that way it will profit YOU.

Shark Vs. Piranha (3, Interesting)

Spencerian (465343) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509130)

This scenario isn't different from computer company tales of the past.

Microsoft is a shark, at the top of its food chain. It cannot be eaten and cannot be stopped unless it stops itself. It is predictably hungry and efficient. It can take its time and wait.

But it now swims in a sea filled with other fish that are just as ravenous. They can't and won't attack the shark; they don't have to. They'll just eat the same thing the shark eats.

And that food--the market--is in short supply.

Apple, the largest desktop competitor to the "WinTel" market, is no Microsoft, but it doesn't have to be. Microsoft cannot directly attack Apple without causing legal waves as it is already a convicted monopoly. Apple hasn't the capital or mindset in the enterprise to fully cause an IT schism where businesses move in droves to Mac OS workstations and servers. But it can erode the reputation of the larger opponent by being flexible enough to try new technologies by taking advantage of the fact that people turn to places like Apple for interesting gadgets and DON'T see Microsoft as the place to buy "cool" gadgets (the Xbox notwithstanding, but do you think people really associate the Xbox with the same company that makes Windows?)

A shark moves too slowly to eat smaller fish, especially schools. And even if the shark grabs a few (buys out), they are still plenty of new fish to take their place. Time will tell if the school of fish is more flexible and malliable than the overweight, overfed and relatively uncreative and inefficient fish that Microsoft has become.

Or, you can use the Rottweiler vs. a Rottweiler's Weight in Chahuahuas [grudge-match.com] analogy. Either way, Microsoft needs some weight loss. A Federally-mandated breakup might have actually been a good thing for MS a few years back to keep it stronger in the game and not this laggard monolith.

The world without Bill Gates (As we know him) (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509144)

So.. one quote from the article

Without Microsoft it still would be a world of IBM and Oracle and that would be a lot more expensive world


Makes me wonder... how would be the world now if back then, this guy didnt wanted to charge money for his software??, what if Mommy Gates had not strong IBM relations so IBM had bought MS-DOs instead of licensed it??

Who knows... maybe OSS wont exist!

Uh, who's challenging whom? (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509149)

"A raft of companies is newly emboldened to challenge the software giant in every market: music, messaging, mobile phones and more."

Microsoft didn't come up with those application and they aren't particularly welcome in those areas.

This article reads like it was their's to lose when we're just trying to keep the elephant out of the living room because, like any elephant in a living room, it is very very messy.

Maybe they should focus on math (1)

untaken_name (660789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509151)

So, they have six battles to fight, ranging from 1-3. Interesting. Must they fight each one twice?

It's been said before (1)

scronline (829910) | more than 9 years ago | (#12509157)

FASTER! MORE SECURE! BETTER GAMING! MORE PRODUCTIVITY!

Doesn't that sound familiar? And here's the kicker, according to a security expert of mine, XP has more potential security holes in it than win95 to win2k combined. I only have his word on it, but to be honest, it sounds logical to me given Microsoft's track record and the amount of XP machines that I see with malware and root kits on them. You can say something is more secure because you disable the ability to open attachments, but then the user turns the ability back on and....whoops there goes the security of OE. Not that it was all that secure even with attachments disabled.

With the magnitude of the amount of code in Windows these days, including easter eggs and so forth, I would estimate that it would take more than 35% of the R&D budget to find them all. I don't buy it. It's all rhetoric and nothing more. Malware will NEVER go away. Bill Gates even suggesting that a product of his company will do so is irresponsible.
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