Bill Gates publicly stepped down from his position at Microsoft on June 27, 2008. He will not be missed, at least not by me, nor by many Linux users around the globe. There is a lot of speculation in the blogosphere as to what this means for Linux over the next few years. Some see it as the inevitable demise of Windows, the beginning of the end, but I’m not yet convinced.
When asked what will become of Linux when Linus Torvalds is no longer involved, advocates are quick to respond that Linux is a product of the community and relies not on one man, but on an underlying framework of goals, practices and beliefs. So, too, it is with Microsoft. Gates’ departure may be portrayed as the loss of a beloved general or king, but his absence may very well make room for the innovative minds needed to lift the company to new heights.
Let’s not count our penguins before they are hatched, my friends! There is much work yet to do!
Here is an interesting post from The Angry Admin ‘blog. The basic point being made is that Microsoft has succeeded in corrupting the ISO standard-setting process, attempting thereby to shake the faith in it and the standards that arise from it. Perhaps the title of the post should have made reference to the death of ISO, not ODF. Near the end, the company’s proficiency in FUD is highlighted; but, if true, it also reveals a slight difference from Microsoft’s typical modus in that a stalemate was considered acceptable. When it’s not winning the game, the company usually either bullies the other kids until it is declared the winner or picks up its toys and goes home; in this case, it opted to raze the playground. Could this be a sign of a weaker Microsoft? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.
I saw this article summarized on Slashdot this morning. Headline: Microsoft Claims ‘Vista Has Fewer Flaws Than Other First-Year OSes.’ According to the article, Vista released 17 security bulletins and fixed 36 vulnerabilities in the first year, which is a big improvement over XP’s hit counts of 30 and 65 respectively. The article continues by comparing these figures to the first-year vulnerability numbers for Red Hat (360), Ubuntu (224) and Mac OS X (116). One security specialist is quoted, stating that these numbers “prove that [Vista] is quantitatively more secure.” He then chastises other OS vendors for their negligence in QA and security testing.
When you read this article, does it make you doubt the security of Linux and OS X? That’s the intended message, no?
I find this article misleading for a few reasons:
- Vista numbers are based on actions Microsoft decided to take: release bulletins and fix vulnerabilities. There is an element of subjectivity here.
- The article discloses that 30 Vista vulnerabilities remain, which brings the number of known vulnerabilities to 66. Sometimes, ‘known’ translates into ‘disclosed’.
- An assumption is made that the writing of Vista and the compilation of a Linux distro are comparable activities. They are not, and the vulnerabilities associated with these activities likely have different statistical distributions.
- The scope and risk of the vulnerabilities fixed are not discussed. Microsoft may have fixed 17 big problems, where as Ubuntu fixed 224 small ones. For all we know, the cumulative effect could be equal.
The security specialist states that Vista underwent more testing than the other OSes. He makes no reference to the relative quality of that testing. “More” doesn’t mean “better.” And what does “more” mean anyway? Was the testing measured in dollars spent? Number of testers? Number of test cases?
An analysis of the actual report would probably provide more clarity. Moreover, independent verification of the numbers would boost the integrity of the conclusions drawn. The validity of the actual results, however, does not change the intent of those who report on them. FUD, I say!
No, it’s not a swear. It’s an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. FUD. These are all feelings a (potential) new Linux user feels. You can add stupidity to that list, too.
That’s how I feel. Stupid. FUDS.
You see, I consider myself to be a Microsoft Windows guru. I’ve been using/working with computers since 1991 (of course there was Commodore 64 and the likes before that). Remember MS-DOS Shell? How about QBasic? The original Nibbles? I’ve been using, studying, and tinkering everything “Microsoft” since its infant years. I know my stuff.
I’ve grown to hate Microsoft (for all the usual reasons), but still love it at the same time. Then I ask myself, “Honestly, is it really love?” Nah… I think it’s more like a habit or a security blanket. Stick to what you know.
And then there’s Linux, tugging at the security blanket, charmingly threatening to take it away and offer better things for free. It’s convincing, and I’m starting to let go of that blanket.