Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

To the defense of Vista

Microsoft and the EU are at each other’s throat again. This time over Vista and it’s enhanced security and added security applications. ‘Community heroes’ Adobe and Symantec are supporting the EU with complaints against the ‘evil monopolist’. I can imagine Microsoft being annoyed or surprised at all this.
For years people have complained about the security holes in Windows. The Microsoft started to take it seriously, starting with Service Pack 2. And you have to be impressed with what has been done. Besides plugging holes, which were a cash maker for the likes of Symantec, the company started to educate endusers about secure computing and bought companies to add the needed security knowledge. Windows XP is still under constant siege, but with some good user practices it can be secure. Vista is taking this one step further, adding security features well-known to Mac OSX and Linux users.
And adding XPS and PDF export capabilities to Office 2007 is not really ground breaking either. I am using this feature in for years now, since it makes for great portability. So, Microsoft is actually listening to the complaints, is fixing them and they get slammed as a result. Yes. I am ‘really’ looking forward to Vista Unplugged, completely stripped of all security features so that you, as a free agent can spend some extra money on the lackluster and buggy McAfee Suite, or the hodgepodge Norton Suite, or try the latest ZoneAlarm Suite that breaks your internet connection by default.
Vista will not create a new and monopolistic ecosystem. It will have to compete with XP for years to come. Halting a secure Vista will not help a migration to Linux on the desktop. A huge economic crisis would be better suited to stimulate that. Vista requires new hardware, and Linux can deliver the same on older hardware.
ln essence, I don’t think this is about creating or keeping a level playing field, protecting European companies against unfair competition. As before, it is the US companies, that fail to convince their own courts and use the European arena to push their own bottom line up and their expensive and/or buggy software through European throats.


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