Patch Tuesday Launches Busy Week
- By Paul Desmond
You got off easy in March, when Microsoft released no security bulletins on
Patch Tuesday, but this month is a different story. Microsoft released eight
bulletins, five of which address critical security flaws that could allow an
attacker to take control of an affected system. As our news editor Scott Bekker
this Patch Tuesday release also marks the first time Microsoft included non-security
Windows updates with its security bulletins, including one for the Windows Installer
and the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).
A Special Scan for a Critical Flaw
Also on Tuesday, Microsoft released a special scan tool that helps users find
machines that are vulnerable to an MSN
Messenger flaw (one of the five critical flaws announced the same day) that
the free Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) fails to catch. We’ve
got an in-depth
look at MBSA coming in the May issue of Redmond magazine as part of our
Your Turn review series. As a Redmond Report newsletter reader, you are invited
to take an advance look at the online version early, where you’ll learn
about the high points and limitations of the vulnerability scanner.
SP2 Grace Period Ends
Tuesday also marked the end of the grace period during which organizations could
prevent Windows XP SP2 from being automatically downloaded from Automatic Updates
and Windows Update. Here’s hoping this isn’t the first time you’re
reading about that little
In case all that isn’t enough fun for you this week, let’s not
forget that tax returns are due Friday. Might as well get your spleen removed
on Thursday, just to make for a full week.
Busy Lawyers, Part I
Call it the Microsoft Attorney Full Employment Program. No sooner had Microsoft
agreed to pay Gateway $150 million to settle antitrust claims that it turned
around and filed its own lawsuits against eight firms it accuses of selling
The Gateway settlement (finally) ends a suit that has been lingering from the
mid-1990s U.S. Department of Justice antitrust case against Microsoft, which
singled out Gateway as suffering from Microsoft business practices. As is typical
in these settlements, Microsoft admits to no such thing. But it did get Gateway
to agree to use the settlement funds for marketing initiatives and R&D for
new products to run existing and future Microsoft software. Those Microsoft
lawyers must be very, very good.
Busy Lawyers, Part II
Microsoft’s legal prowess should make these eight companies fairly nervous:
Abacus Computer Corp. of Anaheim, Calif.; Avantek Inc. of Orlando, Fla.; First
E-Commerce (d.b.a. Discount Electronics and/or DiscountElectronics.com) of Austin,
Texas; M&S Computer Products Inc. of Boonton, N.J.; Micro Excell Inc. of
Gadsden, Ala.; Odyssey Computers of Pasadena, Md.; Signature PC (a.k.a. Signature
Computers) of Warwick, R.I.; and Technology One of Los Angeles. In separate
lawsuits, Microsoft accuses each of the companies of distributing “counterfeit,
illicit and unlicensed software and software components.” The suits
are the latest in a Microsoft sting operation that started in 1997, in which
it buys software or computer systems and tests the software for authenticity.
Sellers of software that fail the sniff test get cease-and-desist letters. If
they persist, they get sued. Seems fair to me.
Groove Deal Is Done
Despite the complaints of a former Groove Networks executive who claimed the
price was too low, Microsoft last week completed its acquisition
of Groove. The price tag, which had been under wraps when the deal was announced
on March 10, is $120 million. As Groove’s largest investor, Microsoft
will get back $80 million of its investment. The same can’t be said for
other investors, who poured a total of $155 million into Groove over the years.
Sounds like another good deal for Microsoft.
Students To Be Sued Over File Swapping
The Recording Industry Association of America today plans to sue 405 students
at 18 colleges nationwide, alleging they illegally shared music files over the
high-speed Internet2 network. The “John Doe” lawsuits are the first
targeting Internet2, which is an academic research network shared by numerous
higher-education institutions. The RIAA says it also has evidence of Internet2
infringement at 140 schools in 41 states.
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In principle, I’m sensitive to the complaints of the recording industry
and can’t condone the stealing of intellectual property. But I also can’t
believe that suing kids—and forcing their schools to cough up their names,
which is reportedly the RIAA’s plan—is going to do much to further
the RIAA’s cause. Lump me in with the crowd that thinks the RIAA would
be better off spending its time trying to figure out how to use the Internet
to make more money for the artists it represents rather than suing a bunch of
college kids. The New York Times published a thought-provoking piece on this
issue last week, in which it quoted Jeff Tweedy, the leader of the rock band
Wilco, which has used the Internet to its advantage. “To me, the only
people who are complaining are people who are so rich they never deserve to
be paid again," Tweedy said. Check out the NYT story here
Questions Wanted From Channel Partners
As reported previously, we are launching a new publication, Redmond Channel
Partner. We’re now prepping for an interview with Allison Watson, vice
president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group,
for a Q&A to run in our inaugural issue in July. If you’re a Microsoft
partner, feel free to send any questions that you have for Allison to me at
[email protected]. Please
use “Watson” in the subject line.
If you’ve ever wanted to ask Microsoft anything about its products, security
or more, here’s your chance: We’ve got an upcoming interview with
Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s group vice president, Products. Let us know what
you want Allchin to talk about by posting your questions here.
Or e-mail Redmond Editor in Chief Doug Barney at [email protected].
If you e-mail, please use the subject line “Allchin.” Be sure to
include your name, title and location if you want credit for your question.
Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at [email protected].