Thursday, August 18, 2005

Microsoft Just Doesn't Get It

Testers running the Beta 1 version of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system got a very unpleasant shock when they examined their network traffic. It seems Microsoft introduced a new Peer to Peer Networking feature in Vista and actually has it enabled by default. Whenever the beta testers booted their Vista PCs, they would immediately attempt to locate and connect to other Vista operating systems on the net. (ZD Net: Vista feature exposes beta machines).

Despite all of the security exposures exposed in the past three Windows operating system releases, Microsoft still doesn't seem to get it. Their stated policy of "secure by design, secure by default and secure in deployment" is laughable. Using "Microsoft" and "Security" in the same sentence borders on the absurd.

What's most puzzling is the decision to release Vista in the first place. For the home user, XP continues to be an extremely stable operating system, especially when compared to its predecessor (Windows 98). The latest patches of XP SP2 have closed all of the known security holes. Resource demands of the operating system are not too excessive and the operating system does a fair job of preventing applications from stepping on each other.

Vista, on the other hand, already appears to have its own brand new security holes. Initial reports on the resource requirements of the new operating system are staggering. There's also no pressing need on the part of applications or end users to migrate to a new operating system. Applications are not clamoring to support a 64-bit architecture, and with the high memory demands of Vista, end users are going to be hit pretty hard in the wallet when it comes to RAM. Some reports are listing 1GB as the minimum necessary to get even mediocre performance.

Microsoft needs to carefully consider the wisdom of pressing forward with Vista. Right now, they dominate the PC market. But that dominance came about at a time when the only options were Macintosh (which couldn't run most of the applications the PC users wanted - i.e. games) and OS/2 (which IBM couldn't market even to their own internal users.) Today, however, they still face competition from Macintosh (which still can't run the games) but also from Linux. FC4 requires far less resources than any Windows operating system, has virtually all of Windows application software functionality available to it as open source (i.e. free) and, using WINE, is capable of running most games including the popular MMORPGs. That's competition Microsoft would do well to avoid.

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1 comment :

Alan Fraser said...

The Computer Survey of 2001 shows that game playing is an application on about 55% of machines but email and Internet are are about 83% and 89% respectively. This doesn't give a solid breakout as none of the selections are mutually-exclusive with any of the others. Nevertheless, it does assist your point in the importance of games even if they're not really as important as you've suggested. I'm sure Apple would be more than happy to fill the needs of the 45% or so who never play games at all!

But your main point is regarding Microsoft failing to understand and keep up with the market and Vista makes that abundantly clear. It doesn't even come up to where Apple's OS X was years ago. Given the massive programming talent at Microsoft, it's really quite amazing that they have achieved so little. Looks like Microsoft has run out of ideas.