A number of years ago I wrote a review of Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0 in which I concluded it has a significant list of problems, making it a lousy word processor. Except for all the other word processors on the market, which were even worse.
These days, Microsoft receives a hammering for poor security in Windows, in Windows Explorer, and in any other of its products where a security flaw is found. This has seeped into cultural discourse and belief as evidence that Microsoft has poor programmers, and just doesn’t care anyway. That, notwithstanding the fortnightly updates and patches issued by the company.
My view has been that Microsoft is pretty good at what it does. Very good, in fact. Indeed, I suggest that it is its very success that has made it seem so vulnerable to viruses.
You see, Microsoft dominates the operating system market with around a ninety per cent market share.
So let’s say that you are one of the twisted individuals who wish to wreak havoc throughout the Internet, or upon strangers’ computers, whether for your own warped gratification or for money. Would you write your virus or worm or trojan horse or whatever for Macs? Linux boxes? Or course not. You’d concentrate on where the volume is. That is: Windows.
My brother draws my attention to this story about a hacking convention:
Security researcher Charlie Miller hacked Safari in just 10 seconds, then used a remote-execution exploit to take over the up-to-date MacBook and make it do his dirty bidding. Firefox and Internet Explorer 8 (which you can download at noon today) fell within a few hours to Nils, a master’s student who busted all three browsers wide open.
So the main Mac browser was broken in ten seconds, while the main Windows browsers took ‘a few hours’. All those attacks against Windows and Internet Explorer seem to have paid off with a more secure product.