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08.24.09

How Many People Must Die Before Abandoning Windows?

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 8:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forgotten leg

Summary: Hospitals given another reason to give Windows the kick; Vista 7 fails to improve security

YET another UK-based hospital has just been punished for using Windows, but the victims are live (or dead) patients who were denied access to service due to Conficker.

An east London hospital has confirmed its computer systems were infected by the Conficker worm earlier this month.

Almost half a dozen British hospitals are known to have fallen victim to Conficker. Who knows how many incidents were never reported. These incidents lead to uncountable deaths and Microsoft counts on sweeping the problems under a thick rug.

Some hold Microsoft accountable, but as this new bit of IE6 humour shows, Microsoft continues to rely on ignorance and apathy. Not enough people are calling for change. While on a humourous side, here is a new Clippy cartoon. Wheaeas the company is able to make obnoxious and obstructive animations, decent reliability and security are too great a challenge to it.

According to this from news, there is yet another reason to accept the fact that Vista 7 is insecure by its very nature [1, 2, 3, 4].

[W]hen a Sophos blog posting from it’s Chief Technology Office, Richard Jacobs, started with the playground taunt equivalent of ‘I’ve been kissing your mum’ by saying “Windows 7′s planned XP compatibility mode risks undoing much of the progress that Microsoft has made on the security front in the last few years and reveals the true colours of the OS giant” you kind of new things would get nasty, and quick. Jacobs continued his verbal assault on Microsoft and Windows 7 by adding “XP mode reminds us all that security will never be Microsoft’s first priority. They’ll do enough security to ensure that security concerns aren’t a barrier to sales, but not so much that it gets in the way of progress”. Ooh, a little below the belt perhaps?

Looking elsewhere in the news, Wired Magazine names 7 reasons to stay away from Vista 7. Here are the more relevant points that are raised:

It’s Still Windows
Despite delivering an intuitive, modern interface in Windows 7, this OS is still Windows. In our first look at Windows 7, we complained about the OS’s inability to recognize an Adobe AIR file followed by its failure to search for software to run the file.

Also, Windows 7 doesn’t immediately know what to do with some pretty obvious tasks. When you insert a thumb drive, for example, you must tell Windows 7 what to do with it (i.e. open the folder and view the files) and customize a setting to get the OS to automatically behave that way. In short, when getting started you’ll have to do a lot of tweaking and customizing to get moving smoothly. That’s unfortunately an experience all Windows users are accustomed to — things don’t “just work.”

Security Isn’t Automatically Better
Computerworld’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols stands firm that Windows 7 won’t change anything from a security perspective: “Windows 7 still has all the security of a drunken teenager in a sports car,” he wrote. “Millions of lazy Windows users are the reason why the internet is a mess. If you already do all the right things to keep XP running safely, you’re not going to get any safer by buying Windows 7.”

Good point. Because Windows 7 is still Windows, you’re again the primary target of attack for hackers and virus coders. Therefore, it’s up to you to protect yourself with anti-virus software and running update patches to keep the OS as secure as possible. (Compare this experience to Mac OS X Leopard, for which many don’t even run anti-virus software, because it’s more secure out-of-the-box compared to Windows.) Though Windows 7 does deliver some security enhancements, such as data encryption for thumb drives, and a feature for IT administrators to control which applications can run on a corporate network, these are not general security improvements that change much for the overall user experience.

In summary, Windows leads to deaths in hospitals and nothing is changing. Vista 7 will resolve nothing substantial.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

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