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The Great Myth - Windows that lock properly

By Deadly Ernest ·
Microsoft Windows has been out in its many variants for over 20 years. The first versions were overlays on DOS and had very good security compard to the current versions. Why does it seem impossible for Microsoft to write a new version without including most, if not all, of the vulnerabilities that were found and patched in the previous versions?

Some think this is laziness, other see a conspiracy. I don't know which, but it is bloody annoying to have to spend a lot of time keeping up with the vulnerabilities and loading the patches.

Yet each version is touted as being the most secure yet, then within weeks we have the patches for previously known faults. Soon we are told we can expect to see the first fruits of the MS involvement in Trusted Computing and that this new software will be totally secure and have a big brother tie that will make Orwells 1984 look liberal and open minded.

This leads me to ask some questions:

1. Does anyone really think that MS will get this right with no known vulnerability types at time of launch?

2. Does anyone really expect that they can trust MS with the centralised data that they say they need to make the Trusted Computing to work?

3. Is there any real corrolation between the current lock down on software etc by MS and the movement by small business to Linux/Unix systems?

Thoughts and comments on these points are most welcome. Yes I know I have thrown the cat amongst the pidgeons on this, please try not to throw too many more in.

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nice regurgitation

by apotheon In reply to MS vs Unix/Linux

That's a very good summarized presentation of the most common, and least valid, arguments against Linux use. Good job.

It's clear you're no Linux expert. It was clear in the second sentence, when you said Windows "has time tested" support to back up its claims, as though Linux does not have the same time in service. From there, it just went downhill.

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As If

by rkuhn In reply to nice regurgitation

As if your posts aren't just nice regurgitations of the old and already told Linux arguments?

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difference between "old" and "unrefuted"

by apotheon In reply to As If

There's a big difference between oft-repeated Microsoft marketing copy with little basis in reality and the still unrefuted arguments that explain problems with Windows systems that Linux systems solve easily.

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Windows to deadlines???

by Deadly Ernest In reply to MS vs Unix/Linux

The last version of Windows that was prepared and released as per the deadline was the original PD-DOC licenced to IBM; since that day MS has never met an original announced deadline with an O/S. In some cases they just announced the release with no pre advertising.

Windows is used by people simply because MS pay many millions in advertising and use their market muscle to leverage their apps into prebuilt systems givin uneducated users no choice or option.

I have been around a looong time and appreciate what MS did to improve the market in its early days, but since they stole (yes stole) the Windows concepts and code and started building total Windows based O/Ss with Win 95 their quality has dropped very badly.

People usually do not mind if a new O/S or app has a fault or two that turns up after it is released, happens with the best software. The big problem with MS is that they constantly tell us that the new O/S is better, stronger and more secure and within a few months have to release a patch for a fault or vulnerability that was known about two or more versions back. Simply put they are not fixing problems with the kernel when they arise but patching after release only if they get found out. If a fault is noted in Win 95 it should have been fixed at the kernel level by Win 2000. But that does not happen, even when MS say that they have rewritten the kernel from scratch, they include the old faulty code - why - laziness, sloppiness and just bad programming.

Tell me you have fixed the problems, tell me it is better and then charge me a lot for the same faulty crap and anyone will complain.

BTW most Linux distributors employ people to write the interfaces etc for their software, most of what is done by the open source community is the coding for the new kernels and coding for special apps like Appache etc.

I agree we need more than one O/S and they all have their uses, but lying to people re quality is not a way to make them happy.

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I think we have a new Linux advocate

by stress junkie In reply to The Great Myth - Windows ...

I've worked with M$ products for a long time. I was introduced to MS-DOS because my employer's main customer had MS-DOS. The employer had been using CP/M and Tandy TRS-DOS, both on Tandy Model 2 and Model 16 computers. I preferred either to the MS-DOS. This employer also had M$ Xenix and DEC VMS so I was exposed to a lot of different technology at that job. As time passed M$ Windows came on the scene. Windows 3.11 was almost good enough to use in business. Then M$ added a free TCP/IP stack to Windows and called it Windows for Workgroups. Since my employer at THAT time was paying $1,000 per client for a third party TCP/IP stack I thought that Microsoft making a free driver available was great. NT v3.5 came along and I saw that a TON of excellent system administration tools were included. I was also running DEC VMS at the time and you would pay tens of thousands of dollars for system administration tools like the ones that came free with NT. Then I was a REALLY BIG fan of M$. Plus with NT you didn't see the General Protection Fault that was so common in Windows 3.11 and its predecessors. M$ NT v3.5 gave you exellent networking interoperability. I used an NT machine to create network shares that could be accessed from Macintosh, VMS, and Windows at one location. It was great in unifying a fragmented network storage scheme. Plus I found that the IPX/SPX driver would completely circumvent Novell security. I could connect to a Novell v3.5 server without having an account or any kind of authentication and I would have complete access to all of the files on the server. That's when I lost interest in Novell.

However as time marched forward Microsnot products were found to be poorly designed. As networking became more prevalent in businesses problems in Microsoft security were found that were related to or enabled by networking. Then businesses started to connect to the Internet. Microsnot software then became a liability to business security. Since I've always been a security nut I decided that Microsnot product quality was too poor to use responsibly in business. Unfortunately Microsnot had become very popular and there were few reasonable options. You could use OS/2 Warp if you could find it. Various Unixes were not user friendly enough for people to adopt for home use, if you could find them. So we saw the beginnings of the current situation.

It has taken over ten years for Linux to be considered a possible desktop replacement for M$. Ten years ago there were articles in tech magazines asking if you would be fired for recommending Linux be used in work. Back then there was ONLY the XFree86 GUI and very little end user software.

So things are getting better as far as considering Linux as a business tool. People do not ask if you would be fired for recommending Linux. Many small businesses consider Linux to be one of two possible options to use on servers. The only real resistance is that businesses don't want to have a fragmented computer environment. They don't want to have one person for servers and another for desktop and neither knows how to do the other's job. But Linux is being deployed in servers.

Now end user software for Linux is better. I don't know if or Sun Microsystems' Star Office can be considered drop in replacements for M$ Office Suite. File formats are a problem. If you have to share documents with people who use M$ Office Suite then the Linux software isn't a good choice. If you don't have to share documents with people who use M$ Office then the Linux products appear to me to be pretty good. I'm not a document guru though. A good secretary might disagree with my assessment of the Linux document software.

So here we are. The most popular software has serious design flaws around separation of privileges, separation of communication between processes, and coding bugs that allow buffer overruns and other bad stuff. The Unixes are much better about separation of privileges and communication between processes. Other problems like buffer overruns are a problem with Linux products. A high profile Linux supplier like Red Hat or SuSE do a good job of finding and fixing bugs and making those fixes easy to install over the Internet.

Lately Microsnot products have been increasingly disabled before registering the product with Microsnot. I recently purchased the student edition of Microsnot Office. It won't do anything until I register it with Microsnot. That's a problem in my book. Microsnot is making products that require you to register with them. However when I go to the store to buy a hammer I don't have to register my purchase with the manufacturer before I can use the hammer. As far as I'm concerned Microsnot does not have any right to know my name or anything else about me just because I purchased their product. You don't find this sort of Orwellian facism in open source products. Naturally I can put false information into the product registration, and I do. The point is that Microsnot should not require that you register with them before the product works. I paid for it; it should work.

So, for system security it seems that any Unix would be a better choice than Microsnot operating systems. End user product quality is an issue on any platform but patches appear to fewer and more effective in open source land. A good Linux distributor will do a good job finding, creating, and releasing patches for newly discovered software problems. That includes software from other sources that they included on their Linux installation disks. Other Unixes are similar. the three BSDs are very stable and so have few new problems. Sun Solaris is good but their product line is confusing, expensive, and they keep making changes in their software strategy. However Sun's operating system is genuine licensed Unix and it is good quality software.

There are some other players but they are not really worth mentioning.

So that's the way that I see it. Most small businesses want Microsnot software so we support it. If a business wants to try something else then we can offer one of several Unix and Unix like products. The problem is that they are not as user friendly and not compatible with Microsnot software data files for the most part.

And now you know the rest of the story.


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Not quite - but sort of

by Deadly Ernest In reply to I think we have a new Lin ...

Actually I have been using MS apps since DOS 2 and have been using Linux since 1998. I can relate to people wanting to stick with a familiar product and thus stay in the MS rut. However, the latest versions of Open Office and the Linux distributions like Mandrake 10 etc have gotten over that. If switching from MS Office 2003 to MS Office XP or the latest Open Office the difference in feel is the same and most people will pick up on the variations easily and quickly. The latest Linux distributions is as easy, often easier, to load and set up than the latest MS software; also they come with the security default settings as on not off.

Over the eyars Novel is about the only stuff I have not used. But have usually stayed with MS as that is what my client base used, mostly small businesses. But lately more of them have started asking me about switching to Linux, wanting to know the costs, the learning curve etc - the big thing for them is the lost down time whilst patching faults.

I am also building a Mandrake 10 box so that I can run my current MS apps and my older Win 96/98 based apps on the same system within WINE without having to use a dual boot system.

Microsoft got a hold because they produce cheap software for the masses - they still do but try to act like they produce quality software - something they have never done.

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by Jaqui In reply to Not quite - but sort of

is a poor cousin to crossover office.

crossover office is not, as the name suggests, an office suite, it's the functional version of wine.
it even runs ms autorun to start installing ms based software into linux.

Xandros linux comes with this commercial application. I've seen it install borland's builder 6 into a xandros installation without a single problem.

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Read the fine print

by htmlman In reply to I think we have a new Lin ...

If I am not mistaken. Reading the license agreement to Windows software you are not buying the software you are getting permission from micro$ to use the product.
I haven't checked all the document associations to Open Office 2 but the ones I used can open and reconise office documents and viseversa.

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1, 2 and 3

by lastchip In reply to The Great Myth - Windows ...

1. No

2. No

3. Yes.

And something that seems to be overlooked. As I understand it, once purchased, a Linux Distro of your choice, may be installed on as many machines as you like.

Hows that for the bottom line?

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And if it is a Server

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to 1, 2 and 3

You don't have additional License fees imposed for exceeding a set number of units attached to it.

Then a really important thing is that the Linux Server products are far more scalable than anything that M$ has available. Currently you can run 1K CPU blade arrays on one Linux installation which is just not possible for any Windows Server Product currently available.

Then the really important thing is that you are not constantly rebooting the Linux systems every time you add new software to make it work properly and with the current Blade arrays and Thin Clients you really effectively have a small Main Frame at a fraction of the cost of what they used to be, in a fraction of the space and at a fraction of the running costs as well.

Col ]:)

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