[Homestead] Microsoft vs the world
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Sep 23 15:16:10 EDT 2004
I used to worry about the Microsoft monopoly which they still keep
trying to maintain long after it went into a steep decline., abandoned
in Asia and most of Europe.
Almost anything you can do in Win 98 or XP you can do in Linux, and with
IBM pushing it heavily on desktops as well as servers, there is no
reason to stay long-term with Microsoft software. Or go to the mush
superior Apple OS. that puts Microsoft to shame anyway.
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Microsoft to secure IE for XP only
By Paul Festa <mailto:paulf at cnet.com> CNET News.com September 23, 2004,
4:00 AM PT
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*If you're one of about 200 million people using older versions of
Windows and you want the latest security enhancements to Internet
Explorer, get your credit card ready.*
Microsoft this week reiterated that it would keep the new version of
Microsoft's IE Web browser available only as part of the recently
released Windows XP operating system, Service Pack 2. The upgrade to XP
from any previous Windows versions is $99 when ordered from Microsoft.
Starting from scratch, the operating system costs $199.
That, analysts say, is a steep price to pay to secure a browser that
swept the market as a free, standalone product.
"It's a problem that people should have to pay for a whole OS upgrade to
get a safe browser," said Michael Cherry, analyst with Directions on
Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. "It does look like a certain amount of this
is to encourage upgrade to XP."
Microsoft affirmed that its recent security improvements to IE would be
made available only to XP users.
"We do not have plans to deliver Windows XP SP2 enhancements for Windows
2000 or other older versions of Windows," the company said in a
statement. "The most secure version of Windows today is Windows XP with
SP2. We recommend that customers upgrade to XP and SP2 as quickly as
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ICEbrowser Micro Edition
The Internet's security mess has proved profitable for many companies
antivirus firms. Microsoft has declared security job No. 1.
By refusing to offer IE's security upgrades to users of older operating
systems except through paid upgrades to XP, Microsoft may be turning the
lemons of its browser's security reputation into the lemonade of a
powerful upgrade selling point.
That lemonade comes in the midst of a painfully dry spell for the
company's operating system business.
Three years have passed since Microsoft introduced its last new
operating system, and its upcoming release, code-named Longhorn, has
been plagued by delays. Microsoft last month scaled back technical
ambitions for Longhorn in order to meet a 2006 deadline.
While Wall Street anxiously awaits an operating system release that can
produce revenues until Longhorn appears, Microsoft is eyeing the nearly
half of the world's 390 million Windows users who have opted to stick
with operating systems older than XP, including Windows versions 2000,
ME, 98 and 95.
Microsoft denied it was deliberately capitalizing on the Internet's
security woes to stimulate demand for XP.
"Microsoft is not using security issues or any security situation to try
to drive upgrades," said a company representative. "But it only makes
sense that the latest products are the most secure."
Microsoft has maintained that the browser is part of the operating
system, a point of contention in its antitrust battle with the U.S.
Last year, the company ruled out
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-1012943.html?tag=nl> future releases
of IE as a standalone product. This week, the company reiterated that
"IE has been a part of the operating system since its release," said the
Microsoft representative. "IE is a feature of Windows."
When asked about IE's origin as a free, standalone product, the
representative said, "You're talking in software terms that might be
considered ancient history."
Microsoft promised "ongoing security updates" for all supported versions
of Windows and IE.
The ongoing security updates do not, as Microsoft points out, include
the latest security fixes with Service Pack 2, released last month
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5300317.html?tag=nl>. Those include
a new pop-up blocker and a new system of handling ActiveX controls and
And it's those more substantial changes, rather than the bug fixes that
come with routine upgrades for supported products, that security
organizations have lauded for addressing IE's graver security concerns.
Now it's unclear whether even half the Windows world will have access to
the shored up IE.
"It's particularly bothersome if a product is in mainstream support,
because what does mainstream support mean then?" said Directions on
Microsoft currently commands about 94 percent of the worldwide operating
system market measured by software shipments, according to IDC. (That
number factors in revenue-producing copies of the open-source Linux
operating system, but not free ones).
Of Microsoft's approximately 390 million operating system installations
around the world, Windows XP Pro constitutes 26.1 percent, Windows XP
Home 24.7 percent, IDC said.
The remaining 49.2 percent is composed of Windows 2000 Professional
(17.5 percent), Windows 98 (14.9 percent), Windows ME (6.5 percent),
Windows 95 (5.4 percent), and Windows NT Workstation (4.9 percent).
That 49.2 percent of Windows users are left out in the cold when it
comes to significant updates to IE and other software.
People running Internet Explorer without SP2 face an array of security
scenarios, many of them linked to lax security associated with the
ActiveX API, or application programming interface.
SP2 also brought IE up to date with its competitors with a robust pop-up
"Although I can understand the reasons why Microsoft would like to
simplify its internal processes, I'm not in favor of bundling security
patches, bug fixes and new features into one package," said IDC Vice
President Dan Kusnetsky. "Organizations wanting only security-related
updates or just a specific new feature are forced to make an
*Firefox in the hunt*
While organizations and individuals weigh the merits of all and nothing
with respect to Windows and IE, a competing open-source browser may
benefit from Microsoft's decision to reserve SP2's browser upgrades for
The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser is potentially eroding
overwhelming market share even prior to its final version 1.0 release.
Last week's release of the first preview release of Firefox 1.0 blew
past <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5371875.html?tag=nl> its 10-day
goal of 1 million downloads in just more than 4 days.
Firefox, Apple Computer's Safari browser and Opera Software's desktop
browser together command a mere sliver of market share. But features
such as tabbed browsing and earlier adoption of pop-up controls have won
them adherents among potentially influential early adopters and
Even some Microsoft bloggers
to liking Firefox.
With Longhorn still years away, Microsoft is feeling the heat to produce
That heat has come in many forms, from grassroots campaigns
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5322759.html?tag=nl> by Web
developers urging people to switch from IE to Firefox and other
alternatives, to Mozilla's own marketing push
to a steady drumbeat of lacerating Web log and newsgroup posts decrying
IE's years of stagnation
"I've always wondered what the problem is with the IE team," one
respondent wrote in a feedback thread
on IE evangelist Dave Massy's blog. "I mean, it's just a browser. You
need to render a page based on well-documented standards...and that's
it! You've opted to not have tabbed browsing or any other
personalization. It's just a window shell and the browser content...I
wonder if there are only like four people who work on IE or something? I
seriously don't get it."
Massy and others have defended the company by explaining that recent
development efforts have been geared at security improvements.
A representative for Firefox, which will face security scrutiny of its
own <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5366108.html?tag=nl> should it
make good on its competitive threat to IE, said any pressure it was
exerting on Microsoft to update IE was evidence of its success.
"IE users need all the help they can get," said Mozilla Foundation
spokesman Bart Decrem. "And we're trying to help them. If Microsoft will
help them, all the better. At the end of the day, the mission of the
Mozilla Foundation is to provide meaningful choice, and the reason there
hasn't been a lot of innovation from the dominant provider is because of
their monopoly position. So if they are forced to innovate and respond
to the success of Firefox, we are achieving our mission."
Some analysts say Microsoft's reluctance to issue SP2's browser security
features to non-XP users has as much to do with being shorthanded as
wanting to drive XP adoption.
"Their main focus now is on Longhorn IE," said Matt Rosoff, another
analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "It's a staffing and a cost issue."
Rosoff agreed that Firefox and other second-tier browsers might benefit
from Microsoft's IE distribution policies, but he noted that the vast
majority of consumers are far less likely to download a browser than the
typical Firefox early adopter.
"From a consumer standpoint, I think evaluating other browsers makes
sense," Rosoff said. "And Microsoft is going to face more and more users
who are on dual platforms, who won't see any reason to upgrade once they
see that Firefox offers the pop-up blocker and other features they'd
have to pay for in IE? But most consumers don't download anything if
they can avoid it."
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