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10.31.08

Eye on Microsoft: Picture of a Monopoly in Constant Decline

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista, Windows at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Hasta La Vista, Vista

Microsoft appears to have given up after unsuccessful ad campaigns and a lukewarm response. It moves on to 'vapourware mode' once again, after 5+ years of vapourware mode for Windows Vista (2001-2006). Here are some supportive new references:

1. Embattled Vista set to ride into the sunset

Otherwise, despite the fact that Windows’s toughest challengers – Linux and Apple Inc. – remain bit players in the operating system game, Microsoft risks suffering in the arena of public perception, again.

2. Microsoft bailing on Vista

It is a commonly known truth that since Vista was launched, alternative operating systems from the likes of Apple and Linux are doing better than ever.

3. Windows Vista No Longer Matters

Make no mistake: Microsoft has moved beyond Windows Vista, which will become all too apparent during this week’s Professional Developer Conference. Windows 7 is the future, and in many ways it’s the present, too.

4. Vista is doomed

AS MICROSOFT goes into this week’s Professional Developer Conference, it is hard to find anyone keen to talk about Vista. True, it is a developer’s forum, so you would expect a fair slice of the talk to focus on Windows 7, but it seems that no one wants to mention the V word, according to Microsoft Watch.

Almost 2 years after the RTM milestone of Vista, Apple and Vista still don’t get along, proving that maturity and compatibility may still be far off.

iTunes 8 to Vista: Give Me a B, an S, an OD

[...]

Apple says the problem can have more than one cause, and the company hasn’t yet promised a patch. But if you’re suffering from this unhappy pairing,

Vista graphics

Vista 7 Already Open to Hijackers

Yes, only a short time after reaching the hands of testers, Vista 7 [sic] is open to attacks, just like the rest of those versions of Windows.

“A security issue has been identified that could allow an authenticated remote attacker to compromise your Microsoft Windows-based system and gain control over it,” the security update says.

The more than 6,000 attendees who will be walking away from the sold-out event with the Windows 7 operating system software in hand could have been vulnerable to an attacker exploiting the security hole.

Some early testers of Vista 7 are far from impressed.

My initial evaluation of Windows 7 shows that it’s really just Vista with a fresh coat of paint

This says that Vista 7 is just as slow as Vista.

More on Security

Pseudonym Bob X Cringely has published the article “Windows: Unsafe at Any Speed,” which reached the New York Times and provoked to then receive a lot of reactions. Here’s a reflection:

I like the convenience-store analogy. But when a 7-Eleven gets robbed, everyone who shops there doesn’t end up getting his wallet lifted. When there’s a critical Windows flaw like the one they patched last week, everyone is vulnerable. We need more than security cameras here, bub.

According to the BBC, kids as young as 11 capitalise on the insecurities.

“I see kids of 11 and 12 sharing credit card details and asking for hacks,” said Chris Boyd, director of malware research at FaceTime Security.

Many teenagers got into low level crime by looking for exploits and cracks for their favourite computer games.

To those dare to exploit trivial loopholes receive severe punishment, but shouldn’t the vulnerable system deserve at least some of the blame?

Student charged after alerting principal to server hack

[...]

A 15-year-old high school student in New York State has been charged with three felonies after he allegedly accessed personnel records on his school’s poorly configured computer network and then notified his principal of the security weakness.

The unnamed student of Shenendehowa Central School was charged Thursday with computer trespass, unlawful possession of a personal identification information and identity theft, according to news reports. He has been suspended from school and ordered to stand charges in family court in Saratoga County.

There’s not much hope when intrusion might as well be assumed.

“State and local officials are investigating if state and law-enforcement computer systems were illegally accessed when they were tapped for personal information about “Joe the Plumber.”

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher became part of the national political lexicon Oct. 15 when Republican presidential candidate John McCain mentioned him frequently during his final debate with Democrat Barack Obama.

The critical flaw which affects virtually every version of Windows and enables almost any machine to be hijacked without user intervention is actively being exploited already.

A public exploit has been circulated for the recent RPC hole in Windows. When the vulnerability was publicised last Wednesday, Microsoft still said in its security bulletin that although there were targeted attacks, the actual attack code wasn’t publicly available – but the company did warn that the the hole was a potential target for worms. It now seems that this prediction has come true, as a program called “Gimmiv.A” has reportedly been sighted in the wild. Gimmiv.A infiltrates vulnerable computers and sends information back to base. Some virus scanners and intrusion detection systems already offer signatures to recognise these attacks.

Azure Means Giving Microsoft Your Computer, Too

It has been said for months that cloud computing has the danger which is lock-in. Mike reminds his readers of that.

There was a ton of press coverage today over Microsoft’s not-particularly-surprising announcement of Microsoft Azure, its attempt to get into the cloud computing business, competing with the likes of Amazon, Google’s AppEngine and (now) Rackspace, among others. Microsoft entering this space isn’t a surprise at all, so it’s a bit disappointing to see the sheer lack of details surrounding the announcement. Amazon has succeeded in the space because of two main things: incredibly cheap prices and ridiculous ease-of-use.

The troubling thing is that Microsoft’s platform is merely lock-in 2.0.

First of all, Microsoft doesn’t have the greatest track record on the Internet, and it’s not clear that developers will jump onto the Windows Azure bandwagon. Will businesses be willing to commit to a proprietary platform and lock their cloud applications to Microsoft’s datacenters?

Well, that least Microsoft is being honest.

“When you hit the quota…it’s possible we will block access to your site,” Microsoft’s Manuvir Das told PDC after a session, Lap Around Windows Azure. Das did try to reassure potential developers blocking was not guaranteed, but noted: “We have the capability to do that and may have to do that.”

Miscellaneous

The astounding failure rate of XBox 360 is still leaving customers angry, as evidenced by the following post.

A supposedly ‘Elite’ system which I had to purchase last year the DAY after Halo 3 was released since I got the Rings of Death?

This is very bad for the Microsoft brand. Between the Line sums it up well by writing that “Fear of Microsoft Fades.”

[I]t’s exactly 10 years ago this week, that a live audience of Microsoft watchers was trying to crowd into Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s court room in Washington, D.C., so grab a glimpse of Chairman Bill Gates’ video deposition on whether Microsoft had used the monopoly power of its operating system to drive Netscape and its Navigator browser out of business.

Those who claim that Microsoft suffers no decline are simply not keeping up with things.

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