Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Microsoft Weighs Automatic Security Updates as a Default (TechNews.com)

Microsoft Weighs Automatic Security Updates as a Default (TechNews.com): "'I have always been a fierce enemy of the Microsoft update feature, because I just don't like the idea of someone else -- particularly Microsoft -- controlling my system,' said Bruce Schneier, co-founder of Counterpane Internet Security Inc. 'Now, I think it's great, because it gets the updates out to the non-technically savvy masses, and that's the majority of Internet users. Security is a trade-off, to be sure, but this is one trade-off that's worthwhile.'"

Schneier's opinion counts for a lot among the geek community. I'd come to the same conclusion. Owning a Microsoft PC means outsourcing it to Microsoft. You might own the hardware (one day I think home leasing will catch on), but Microsoft owns and maintains the rest of it. The user will sort-of-own their data, but Microsoft will offer backup services.

This is an interesting variant on Ellison and McNealy's vision of the "network as computer". Theywanted to make the terminals dumb and the servers smart (they sell server software and hardware). Microsoft, which always wins, has bet on an alternative vision, where processing power lives at user sites, but software is an extension of Microsoft.

As part of this vision Microsoft will be leasing future versions of their office software (.NET distributions, stop paying and your software stops working), distributing movies, reliably handling all transactions (purchases, etc) via their Palladium infrastructure, providing spam proof communications, handling all voice and video communications (IP telephony) and delivering all digital content (films, etc). Microsoft has room to grow.

In a wonderful example of either super-genius, serendipity, or something more subtle, Microsoft's extraordinarily lighthearted approach to security has enabled this vision. The 1990s Java vision, or the 1980s TeleScript vision before it, was built around a secure model. If Microsoft had followed that track then we would not have had the security plague of today -- a plague which will drive consumers to a fully outsourced Microsoft computing model.

Any analogies to the relationship between Al Qaeda and the controlling ambitions of the neocons is purely coincidental.

If you want to live in any other world, consider Linux or a Mac. But you will still need a Microsoft machine.

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