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Report: Microsoft Monopoly Puts Computing at Risk

Microsoft's virtual monopoly on the desktop puts networks and computing at large, at grave risk, according to authors of a paper on security.

Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on the desktop, and that puts networks, and indeed computing at large, at grave risk. At least that's the claim of the authors of a paper released today that says "the goal must be to break the monoculture," a new term to describe Microsoft's operating system monopoly.

The report is titled "Cyberinsecurity: The Cost of Monopoly", and its authors include some well-known names in the IT security field, such as Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Internet Security, and Daniel Geer of the security firm @stake.

The seven authors held a Wednesday morning conference call with reporters. Geer went so far as to state he was staking his professional reputation on the report. "There is a matter of competition policy and security policy that cannot be ignored any longer," he said. "It isn't any one factor, but a combination of factors that make this important. It's the nature of the platform that dominates every desktop everywhere. Its dominance, coupled with its insecurity, can't be ignored any further."

Another of the authors, security consultant Perry Metzger, said the problem is that there is "a gigantic susceptible population of machines. You can do awful things to vast numbers of machines. Whether or not the vendor is trying to protect the systems, with such a huge number of machines, any vulnerability can be spread to huge numbers" of computers.

The report was issued by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a long-time Microsoft nemesis which counts among its members America Online, Oracle and Sun. It's also been involved in the anti-trust lawsuits against Microsoft. The authors said they weren't influenced by CCIA's anti-Microsoft stance, but the report's introduction, written by CCIA, is a harshly-worded broadside against Redmond. "Microsoft's efforts to design its software in evermore complex ways so as to illegally shut out efforts by others to interoperate or compete with their products has succeeded…The presence of this single, dominant operating system in the hands of nearly all end users is inherently dangerous," it states.

The report's authors are equally scathing. "Most of the world's computers run Microsoft's operating systems, thus most of the world's computers are vulnerable to the same viruses and worms at the same time. The only way to stop this is to avoid monoculture in computer operating systems…Microsoft exacerbates this problem via a wide range of practices that lock users to its platform. The impact on security of this lock-in is real and endangers society," the report states.

A number of authors argued the problem isn't necessarily the security or insecurity of Microsoft products themselves, but rather their pervasiveness. As Metzger said, "If every machine on earth ran Mac OS X, it would be the same problem."

Schneier went even further. "I wouldn't put any of the blame on Microsoft…The problem won't be fixed based by the altruism of Microsoft, but by businesses saying this is a problem and we're going to fix it."

While the authors spent a great deal of time describing what they see as the problem, they offered little in the way of possible solutions. "We're speaking as scientists, not as policy people. We understand there are lots of political ramifications to this," Schneier said. Several authors suggested that government would have to have a leading role in any remedy of the problem, but again, no concrete solutions were offered.

The consensus, however, was that more OS diversity was needed. "Having diversity is necessary. It's not [all] sufficient by any means, but necessary," said one. One area the authors declined to discuss was the server/datacenter environment, which is diversity-rich, and where Microsoft doesn't even have a majority, let alone a monopoly, of the operating systems in use.

Microsoft wasn't immediately available to comment on the report or the conference call. The report can be found at www.ccianet.org/papers/cyberinsecurity.pdf.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Sep 27, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

hi yes i believe what the last person said

Sun, Mar 28, 2004 other anonymous user Anonymous

Amen : )

Mon, Mar 8, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

You must know that the only reason Microsoft is on top is because they were branded as IBM in the early eighties. For those of you old enough you may recall the term "IBM compatible." The numbskulls who first adopted "IBM compatible" felt they were going with a giant. Fact is, IBM had little to do with "IBM compatible." UNIX was there long before DOS, and although it was arcane it was way more powerful than was DOS. Then came Windows and it was years behind Mac OS, but by then the arogant "IBM compatible" numbskulls were so firmly entrenched that the standard stuck. Years of Microsoft crap has had no impact on their MANTRA, but now it’s changed to Microsoft compatible. If you want a real OS, you’ll all just need to abandon Microsoft. For me, I use Mac OS X.

Mon, Mar 8, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Old article linked from MacSurfer. Nothing new to see here.

Mon, Mar 8, 2004 Juan Carlos de Burbon NYC

MS software is terrible--from the UI down to the imperfect kernel that it all runs on top of.

Someone asked the question, "what does Joe User have the need for Linux," and the quick answer is stability. MS is still not stable, nor will it ever be stable.

The reason everyone on this board has a job is because MS NEEDS this many people to support its flawed products.

Monopolies make crap. MS is a monopoly and makes crap software. YOU ALL SHOULD REALIZE THAT.

Fri, Oct 10, 2003 Sam WA

Being a multiple OS user I have to say none of the OS's I've seen are secure. (Open BSD is close, but they still have patches).

I would use a MAC but Apple made the mistake of requiring me to purchase expensive hardware to go with it. I do use Windows XP as well as various flavors of Linux and patch both when they come out . Both have there purpose and place in my daily business.

I just love the uneducated masses that think they know anything about information security. The main problem with information security on any of these platforms is PEOPLE and the lack of good security policies, practices and procedures that are performed or in many cases not performed by todays system administrators. How many of you that cry about MS security bothered to patch your systems two month before the big worms hit. The patch was there.

It is laziness and a lack of security awareness that leads to many of these problems. Take responsibility for your networks and get your world in order befor you point the finger.

Thu, Oct 9, 2003 Anonymous Texas

Let's see, according to the report, God has to be condemed because he created two versions which are vulnerable to viruses - the government needs to handle this problem. The Edsel was a flop, the masses wouldn't buy it - the government should have resolved that problem. Should I continue? All through time everything evolves and the masses determines how, when, & why. Every vehicle built comes out with a TSB (technical service bullutin) to correct factory screw ups - the government needs to handle this probplem - How about factory recalls? Why is there a warranty if it is never expected to have a problem? - maybe the government can handle that. Why is there a preference to people where they live? Where they go to school? Who they wed? gee maybe the government can solve that problem! - Maybe we should just be a communist nation and the government can do it all! Now wait, isn't it the government that screws more things up than the people? Maybe we should create a new government that can oversee the old government that way everything can be perfect. Come on people get real - nothing is perfect, the masses decide without collaberating the market. perfection is a perception as is life. Now get a life and do the most with it.

Thu, Oct 9, 2003 Paul NY

"Those that make the comments that the alternatives from Mac and Linux OSes do not meet the need of the masses have obviously not tried these OSes". Hi Jim here is your quote and quite frankly I do not think you understand market forces. If Apple and Linux were creating software that it both easier to use and more affordable than Microsoft OS do you think that people would still buy Microsoft. I don't think so. If you noticed the trend that has happened over the years where Microsoft has not necessarily been the first to market in terms of a particular product but they seem to have this ability to take a product and bundle it in such a away that it appeals to the masses. Case in point 7 or 8 years ago when I was a struggling student in college there was a database product called Paradox it was a superior product to what Microsoft offered at the time which was Access 2.0 I think, however you had to pay $300 dollars for a single copy of Paradox while you could get a student copy of a bundle of Microsoft Office for a smilar price. What do you think the students did?. They demanded that the school dump Paradox because they cannot afford to pay that price for a single product when they can get 4 different products for the same or a similar price. These are the same students that are in the market today and microsoft has managed to hold on to them so far. If Linux or Apple want to break Microsoft' strangle hold on the desktop market they are going to have to make their operating system easier to use and more affordable and trust me people will move away from microsoft and then business will follow. Lunx may be free but the cost of supporting it is much more than Microsoft OS perhaps that may change I don't know . Apple on the other hand is too expensive for most people although it is perhaps easier to use. Finally Jim I have been using all 3 products but being a student of computer science I wouldn't consider myself part of the rank and file

Thu, Oct 9, 2003 Ilyaas Columbus Ohio

The problems faced by Microsoft are many, and I fully understand that most companies are trying to find an alternative solution. But, and this is a 'big' but, Linux will never replace Windows on the desktop. Windows is easier to control from an administrative point-of-view, and much easier to maintain. We tried Linux, and it just wasn't as easy out of the box to deploy. If you’re talking about deploying 500 plus workstations and controlling them it just didn't work.
Deployments are crucial in every aspect of the IT Industry, and time is the key factor. Security falls into the realm of a management philosophy, and is dictated by strict policies. This is becoming more of a concern and will continue to grow. So one can't give all the blame to Microsoft for the security problems, in some cases companies only have themselves to blame. Trying to find a 'cheap' and in some cases 'free' solution doesn't solve the issue of upper management continuing to decrease IT staff which in turn lowers the value of security. This "I want to go to Linux push" is over-rated, and will lead to a decrease in ROI and an increase in man-hours. This business model will fail because of the continued decrease in the IT industry. One person supporting 3,000 computers leads to improper deployments, security, patch management and the overall structure of administration. That's the real problem, not the OS. Get yourself a good IT group, train them and give them incentives to stay instead of blaming all your security problems on a particular OS. Oh, and sending people overseas will lead to the total destruction of your security and that business model will fail as well, but I guess you'll blame that on Microsoft as well??

Mon, Oct 6, 2003 Cody FT Bragg

Let me tell you one thing, With the army being classified in the Big Business classification, i do not care WHAT the price is, i only care about the availability. And knowing that the prices of M$ Produts are high, i know that they will be available in the event that my soldiers need it. Low prices mean a sell out, and yes they will sell fast, but they will not restock verry soon. Your not just paying for the product, your paying for 10 years down the road you will need to upgrade, and who would you rather trust. The maker of the product? Or a distributer with no warranty that lasts more than a year. Buy from M$ and get the full coverage. In the event that crap goes wrong, you have a 10 year contract you can use to point fingers around. That helps better than one finger at them and 3 back at you!

Thu, Oct 2, 2003 Jim Tennessee

Those that make the comments that the alternatives from Mac and Linux OSes do not meet the need of the masses have obviously not tried these OSes. Mac had the first desktop and continues to be intuitive for the masses, the reason why it was first and foremost with education. Linux to has flavors suitable for both the idiot user as well as the geek user. Of course I could fall back on the old, leave the technical tools to those who know how to use it and forget the masses, but that would be ridiculous to say.

Thu, Oct 2, 2003 Rustom Sillicon Valley

I am a strong fan of Microsoft for the past ten years however recently I have been dissappointed with the vulnerabilities to the lastest OS, Windows 2003 especially after MS stated the big push on security and trust worthy computing. Security vulnerabilities with the new OS makes them look foolish and tarnishes there reputation to further proof they are not on top of their products when it comes to security.

Thu, Oct 2, 2003 MikeM Bellevue

I wish the Mac world would stop complaining and just design a system that people actually liked, stopped monopolizing thier own hardware, and try to gain a bigger share of the market! Is there a group of users out there that can start capitalizing on the security flaws on platforms other than Microsoft's?

Tue, Sep 30, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

waz up cuz

Tue, Sep 30, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

hummmm...... of course we can complain about a monopoly , but where is big blue ,i.e IBM with it's (way longer) presence in the IT world ? are'nt they the ones who gave up the PC , and gave up devellopement of OS2 (what a shame) , there are other players out there that could compete , but they dont , i think this is the real question , not why did we let MS take over the world , this makes me think of european politicians in the 30 that where saying " who cares , hitler will stop in poland" (if i remember well this was Leon Bloom) (i'm not comparing bill to hitler , this is just an historical fact), history repeat itself because some people did'nt have the guts to stand up , and now it is too late to complain about it , so stick with windows , and if you're not happy about it , take the time to learn linux , but dont blame a company for trying to raise their market shares because it's like complaining about a lion not eating veggie burgers , in plain words for thoses who dont understand economics : THE GOAL OF A COMPANY IS TO TAKE OVER IT:S MARKET , it will then die over but this is another story

Mon, Sep 29, 2003 Dan Los Angeles

I own a honda, which I bought a few month ago. Great car, but it has adeveloped a slight squeak in one of the doors. Should I ban Honda? NO! I would recommend this car to anybody. Microsoft is not perfect, no one is. Microsoft hasn't made the perfect operating system, no one has. However, Microsoft is trying, look at the leaps from Win 3.1 to XP, what a change for the better. (Okay, I will concede that ME was a HUGE mistake and several Microsoft execs should burn at the stake for it.) Then again, to those who say, "your always hearing about holes in microsoft" lets think about that logically: most used system, more likely to get coverage of problems. Not to mention, you don't hear microsoft jumping up and down and saying look what Unix did. Is Microsoft perfect, nope, but they do make a decent product that gets the job done and they support it.

Mon, Sep 29, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

globbus, Your an idiot, I work in a Linux/Unix/Microsoft environment. I would gladly compare the number of security hotfixes I install on Microsoft Servers to the Number I install on Unix/Linux Servers. For every one I put on a Microsoft Server I put twenty on a Unix server. I will let you guess which OS breaks more processes, but you'll probably come to the same incorrect conclusion outlined in your rant, so go cry your socialist sob story to someone else.

Mon, Sep 29, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Jesse from Miami... web servers running on a free OS because the OS is FREE not because they are a necessarily a better product. Did I mention they use it because it is FREE? Feel FREE to argue with that, my man.

Mon, Sep 29, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

A (only slightly less laughable) solution that is NOT being advanced by the "scientists" here is to outlaw ANY OS OTHER THAN MS Windows. If they're all swimming about in a single pool along with the rest of us, then the deliquents are less likely to float turds in the water now, aren't they?

Mon, Sep 29, 2003 Anonymous Montana

I agree with the author's logic, lets ban all computers because every single operating system has potential problems. I always want to be a f@#K*&g plumber.

Sun, Sep 28, 2003 Martin Chamberlain Southeast Ohio

If there is a better product then bring it out and demonstrate the capibilities. I own a IT service company and work cross platform to hit all market segments but Microsoft products out perform the rest. No competition? Microsoft is the essence of competition and that is precisely what has driven them to continually improve their their products. Hmmm...planning, hard work, creativity, ingenuity..works wonders for keeping ahead in this game. It is what the free market is all about..not a welfare state where it is divided equally no matter who did the work.

Sun, Sep 28, 2003 Ed Taunton, MA

The best thing about Microsofts Monopoly and there OS flaws.....JOB SECRURITY. I like having a job. The only reason Microsoft dominates the desktops is that most people don't want to learn any more than they have to. Most people click the icon on there desktop and the program works. If work place replaced all windows PCs with MAC or Linux PCs and put the same icons on the desktop the enduser wouldn't care as long as it worked.

Sat, Sep 27, 2003 Jesse Miami,Fl.

Quoting Armand from York town:

(You know, I'm on the RedHat list for errata, and I think I see more patches and fixes for them than I do for MS products! )

Well If MS is the better OS, then why arent the majority of the worlds web servers running on a MS product? now I remember its because of al of those
basted patches 8-) NOT l

Besides how was it that ms came do develop there own patented GUI ???? I think Xerox and Apple Had somthing to do with that.
Please anyone could elaborate on this please do.......
So that the public will know more about the OS



Fri, Sep 26, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

one sentence you should all say: Loving Microsoft is a good thing. I LOOOOOOOVEEEE MICROSOFT

Fri, Sep 26, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

you, imbeciles people don't want to wade through your self important drivel. the important thing to remember right now is your job is being exported!

Fri, Sep 26, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Was foa from Richmond or Redmund?

Fri, Sep 26, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

ADDING LINUX IS NOT THE ANSWER, as this article seems to suggest. Linux is so insecure it is scary. I would never put that garbage on a production network. Look at the constant stream of security flaws in Linux at lwn.net (put a slash "alerts" on the end of the url). No. Linux has absolutely nothing on Microsoft where security is concerned. They just hide their massive problems. Rootable flaws are being found in Linux almost every day. SCARY!!

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Ric-O NE USA

It seems that one of the problems with Microsoft's operating systems is that due to it's marketshare there are more people trying to poke holes in it than the total number of developers who write all other operating systems. Ok, I dont know if that is factual but think aobut it...there are SOOO many people doing security testing and probing of MS's software. Any OS that has that big of a target on it's head is gonna have holes.

With all that said, I'm not sure of the cure here but I will say that Redmond is still not on course...they need to step up the pace in a huge way! Thanks for listening to my 2 cent opinion.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Chris Knoxville, TN

I believe diversity and competition promote strength and healthy growth. I know that Microsoft employs some of the top programmers and software architects in developing their operating system. I also know that any OS with the ‘pervasiveness’ and functionality of the Windows OS would suffer from the same security concerns. Could Microsoft do better? Yes, they aren’t perfect. But the fact remains that there is not another company out there at present that can do a better job. If there were, then their product would be held to the omnipresent scrutiny of critics’ derision. Our capitalist nation is governed under the natural principal of ‘survival of the fittest.’ Until there is a true and viable competitor to Microsoft, they will be the king of the OS market.

A side note on diversity, diversity and variety are good and beneficial so long as the base integration and functionality is maintained. If you do have 12 different operating systems and all of them have their own set of caveats for integrating and working with one another, then you have created a more problems then you have solved. Patching will always be necessary, for software will always be flawed, but you have opened a new set of worms when it comes to IT adding true value to a business organization, which comes from integration of connected systems. Open joint development interconnection standards would be required.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 SFC NY

I am not surprised by this backlash against Microsoft by industry experts, however I have to wonder who paid for this study, as it seems to have a definite agenda. These "experts" make no secret of their purpose in drating this document, they don't like the idea of a universal software platform that can be used by practically anyone to do just about anything, and they make use of the security argument to justify this exercise in semantics. The fact is that Microsoft has by a large margin succeeded in creating the better mousetrap and the world has beaten a path to their door. The numbers tell the story, and anyone who has used one of the "alternative" software platforms knows why Windows is so successful - overall performance is better in the Windows operating system than in any of the competition's offerings. I do not mean performance in terms of machine cycles, but in terms of interfacing human beings with computers. Apple devotees will argue that their system is better and more stable, as will Linux and Unix fans, however the numbers speak for themselves. DOS level languages were a lot more stable than the higher evolved code in Windows, but while more powerful and dynamic than Windows I don't think you will find many people using computers today that will want to go back to command line, non-GUI interfaces for long. We have all seen the other operating systems demonstrated as competition for Windows, but has anyone noticed that they all imitate the Windows GUI environment? Why do you suppose that is? The argument can be made that Microsoft did not invent the GUI, but they sure seem to have made it the most widely accepted platform and have refined it in form and function to the point that all the other systems available in the market emulate Windows. From a marketability standpoint, this is why Windows has become the dominant force in the world of personal computing. Sorry, no evil conspiracy of greed, or malevolent force of econonmic domination, just the best compromise in making a human friendly interface so the most people could use the machine that has revolutionized our culture. Sure, there are more secure systems than Windows and the Microsoft desktop, but that could be in part due to the near conspiracy of hacking that has been aimed at Microsoft products. If Novell had an operating system in the early 1980s that became as popular, or if Unix or some other platform had been as widely accepted they would now be under the same security attacks. This report is an example of a reverse thesis: Microsoft is vulnerable because of the sheer number of people employed in the effort to find ways to make it vulnerable and the reason all that effort is being expended in the first place is due to the popularity of Windows and other Microsoft products. This report is nothing more than a misguided premise being expounded on by intellectuals who have an ulterior motive in the promotion of popular mythology. All of this is rendered moot by making use of tools to secure systems from risk and anyone who fails to implement such measures today is just foolish. Publishing a study such as this one does not make it's core theme truth, it just makes a public display of it's flawed logic.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Armand Yorktown

You know, I'm on the RedHat list for errata, and I think I see more patches and fixes for them than I do for MS products! There are certainly folks on either side of the fence to the extreme, and I'm convinced that the MS haters would gleefully rejoice if MS went under, but Bill Gates, IMHO, is too smart to let that happen. I'm convinced that if you know enough about the OS you're supporting, and are willing to take the time and effort to harden it, and have an effective security posture, you'll not have a lot to worry about! It's a shame that most viruses, etc, seem to be directed toward MS, but I guess that comes with the territory...

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 gaboonv Los Angeles

I don't understand all the raving aginst MS. THese people who say the goverment is needed to do something about , 'this problem', don't really like or understand capitalism. Maybe they would if their OS was the dominant one. I will say to those who believe that the market has 'chosen' the OS thery want to use, that's open to a certain amount of debate. MS has usesd ALL of the market tricks and bullying that all the big boys use to get to the top. Nothing illegal, but I wouldn't say they are morally pure! HA! Also I recieve all the updates for all the major maufacturers and can say WITHOUT A DOUBT that all of them release patch after pacth to protect new vulnerabilities. So please stop with all the MS is more insecure that other platform stuff. In fact the more you get into security the more you learn that NO OS is secure! The point that MS is so ubiquitous is a legitimate point. But we all knew that didn't we? I mean these guys were paid good money for this report? Just kidding. I am sure they earned every penny. One last thing before I get off of my soap box. If some company or entity has to down another to promote themselves, they really are pathetic in my eyes. It should be obvious that said companies product is better and the market will move towards it. MCSE Security.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 foa Richmond

This report blatantly displays anti-Microsoft bias and intellectual dishonesty. What a shame! Entertaining the opinions of this report could lead the computer industry down a wrong path. Every human problem we have in the real world will be reproduced in the virtual world. Lying, cheating, stealing, forced entry, mis-representation etc. Software companies can try their best, but they can never stop this. Security and convenience are inversely proportion. When is enough, enough. Even banks get broken into in the real world. Software companies need to just make available the tools to secure our PCs. Let everyone decide and apply the level of security they wish (Including of course being conpletely unplugged). Windows is suffering growing pains. No OS is immune. Let's be patient. The programmers at Microsoft are doing their best wrestling with this problem.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Danny Texas

This is insane! As an IT professional with 15 years experience I couldn't agree more with this article. The only sad thing is Judge Kottar-Kottelly didn't have the guts to stand up to MS. I work with MS OSes and am MS Certified, the abuses of their monopoly power are staggering to anyone that knows the history of computing. To make things worse, MS is now extending it's monopoly in new directions with Media Player and it's DRM and proprietary formats. At least the EU is looking into this. Having only one choice means having no choice at all. Think about it.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 HR ME

I understand the point that if a vulnerability is exploited which affects hundreds of millions of computers, then the socio-economic impact is huge. Well, if there were a dozen different operatings systems and a vulnerability were discovered which could be exploited in all 12 OS's, which OS would you want to be running? One that is supported with automatic updates (if you want them) and that is being patched pro-actively as "potential" exploits are being discovered (even before hackers try to use them), or would you rather be running one of the "other" OS's that may not have all that support? Most of the planet has reached a consensus on what OS they would rather be running when and if the "do-do" hits the proverbial fan. There have been, and still are, several other choices available - but they aren't being chosen. We have put our money where our trust and confidence lies. Until someone builds a better OS that is supported more effectively, the situation will not change. Why does anyone think that Microsoft should publish source code in order to help competitors? Was Campbell's ever required to publish their soup ingredients (except to FDA); does anyone know yet what WD-40 is really made out of? No, of course not! But anyone who wants to committ the capital and other resources, and take the risks to create a competitive product, is certainly free to do that!
Our problem is that no one does it better than Microsoft, and most seem confident that they can't even come close enough to gain a worthwhile share of the market, so they don't try. But anyone who could try has complete access to infinately many ones and zeros (the same number available to Microsoft programmers), and are free (even welcome) to step up and do it all better so we'll have a competing product line to chose from. Until that happens, I'll advise any employer of mine to put their money where they will get the most for it, and to put their trust where they'll find the best support both in a crisis and on a day-to-day basis - today that company is Microsoft; maybe tomorrow it will be Globbussoft, or Schneirersoft. Good luck to both of you. We'd all love to find a better mouse trap waiting on the shelf.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Stan Chicago

Before making a comment about the report, you should actually read it. And I hope John was being sarcastic, otherwise someone please inform him that the leading automotive manufacturers are working on alternatives to gasoline powered automobiles.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 JimG Kansas City

This is another spin on the 'OS Wars'. Even though I am prejudiced towards OS2 (yeah, I'm WAY out there), there are good and bad things about a mono-cultured computing environment.

Microsoft has some good products, that most people can use. IBM and Apple and Red Hat and others that market an OS have a purpose for their products, also. Even the fact that most OS's can interoperate through the Internet poses some risk as far as inter-OS damage goes. The only way to truly prevent a complete global computer melt-down would be for networks to be isolated from each other, which negates the idea for a global Internet.
So what am I saying? It would be nice for more diversity, but it also means that there has to be incentive for change. Most users won't do that. There also has to be more ways to counter cyber-terrorists (that's really what a virus writer is, in my opinion).

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I wonder if these Socialists are worried about the "monopoly" and "monoculture" known as puiblic education?

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 globbus usa

Do all you guys collect a check from Redmond or what? MS software is inherently insecure. All of the patches, hotfixes, and SPs are needed because they wrote crappy code in the first place. And if you work in an enterprise environment you have to test all of the patches, hotfixes, and SPs to make sure they don't hurt you worse than Blaster would. Now, due to the interconnected world we live in, some punk can write code or download an exploit and affect systems worldwide in a matter of minutes. How fast can you test patches? As far as the lame line that, all the holes on MS OS are a result of its pervasiveness, bull!!!! The only reason people are locked into MS OS is because they will not force themselves to face the alternatives. You may indeed have to learn something to use another OS, but until you are willing to cut the cord you only have yourself to blame. For those who think using a PC should be made easy enough for the masses, you need to go out and meet some of the masses. If you are not willing to rise up to a certain level of technical capacity, all you really need is box on top of your TV to surf the net. Ninety percent of the people whose PCs I work on do not use or need their computing power, just the internet connection.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 DC Orlando

I think the one thing that bothers me the most about this report is the fact that "Several authors suggested that government would have to have a leading role in any remedy of the problem." Contrary to the opinion of the socialists out there, the government is not the answer to everything. If the members of CCIA want to have more diversity, then some of these other vendors of Linux and the like, are going to have to come up with an OS that can compete with MS. Currently there is no such OS in the desktop market. The bottom line is that the pervasiviness of Windows is a direct result of the acceptance of Windows by the market. Until the market accepts another OS as being a viable solution, MS will continue to dominate the market.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 John Oconomowoc, wi

Perhaps, to follow this logic, we should be looking for alternatives for the 'monoculture' of gas powered automobiles. 'thus most of the world's "automobiles" are vulnerable to the same oil crisis at the same time.'

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I agree with you guys. I do like MS. I mean hell, I am an MCSE so I have to like them somewhat, but the underlying fact of this all is that CCIA has it in for MS and their views are biased. Fact, Windows has it's vulnerabilities, but MS is getting better about streamlining patches and solutions for their users. Throughout the life of every MS product, now and for the rest of time, vulnerabilities will be found and exploited. It happens in all software. I do agree with CCIA that MS has their hands in too many things and should focus on the here and now.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Paul NY

I totally agree with you Brian. I am very leery of these so called Independent scientists trying to determine what operating system the market should accept. Look at the industry group to which they belong . That group and its members has always being envious of microsoft no matter what they say.While I agree with the notion that due to the pervasiveness of the windows operating system it is easy for unscrupulous individuals to target networks and indvidual machines, it us due to market forces why Microsoft has managed to dominate the PC market and make inroads into the server market. If linux or any other operating system intends to grow on the pc market level they will have to make their operating system easy to use just as Microsoft has done. Don't get me wrong I am not a Microsoft cheerleader I just beleive inmarket forces thats all.

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Geez, it took all those big dollar folks this long to figure that out! Of course a monoculture is more likely to suffer from massive failures, but did they even think about the problems we had when everybody had their own computer and all we did was run around trying to make them all talk to each other? Microsoft bashing is easy, and maybe even fun, but it shouldn't be so blatantly one-sided that even a simple guy like me can see right through it!

Thu, Sep 25, 2003 Brian Cook Fort Worth, TX

I find it amazing the number of people that jump on the "bandwagon" to complain about one thing or another. Personnaly I like the Microsoft OS even with the problems, insecurity, vulnerability.
The alternatives, which include Linux, Macintosh, and the like, just do not meet the need of the masses. For an alternative to be a successful alternative, then it has to be easy to use, simple to understand by the masses. The Developer community has ample choices for programming in Microsoft based OS, and yes there are significant options in the Linux and UNIX environments, however, what does Joe User have the need for Linux. Most don't need the power that is built into that type of alternative.
The Microsoft Operating System does meet the need of the masses, and is easy to use. It should not be said that everything is perfect with the OS, nor is the Linux, or Mac OS's perfect.

Wed, Sep 24, 2003 Stan Chicago

I'm confused as to why this article states in one paragraph that no concrete solutions were offered, but in the following paragraph reports that the authors agree that more OS diversity is needed. Is not that a solution? Page 20 of the report offers additional solutions. These solutions include requiring MS to publish interface specifications to major functional components of its code, foster development of alternative sources of functionality through an approach comparable to the highly successful ‘plug and play’ technology for hardware components, and work with consortia of hardware and software vendors to define specifications and interfaces for future developments, in a way similar to the Internet Society’s RFC process to define new protocols for the Internet. Admittedly, I'm not an expert in semantics or journalism, but if these solutions are not concrete solutions, what is a concrete solution?

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