WinInfo Short Takes: Week of February 23 - 20 Feb 2004

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news...

Windows Source-Code Leak Wasn't the First
   Apparently, last week's partial leak of the Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 source code wasn't the first time someone leaked Microsoft OS code to the Internet. Although I don't recall hearing anything about it at the time, the source code for MS-DOS 6 apparently leaked in 2000 and is still being shared online. And you thought Microsoft didn't support open source!

Another Source-Code Review?
   You might recall that Microsoft halted development of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP a few years ago so that the company could complete a Trustworthy Computing code review of those systems. In the wake of the recent source-code-leak debacle, Microsoft now says it's going to perform a similar code review of earlier systems such as Win2K in an effort to shore up some products that, frankly, the company hasn't looked at closely enough. I wonder whether this attention to detail would have occurred if the source code hadn't leaked, but it's nice to see Microsoft finally publicly supporting Win2K again. After all, the OS is the primary Windows version in use at most medium and large businesses.

Here Come the Longhorn System Requirements
   I've received a lot of reader questions about Longhorn's system requirements, which are--at this point--a great unknown, although Microsoft did announce graphics-processing requirements last April at Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2003. At this year's WinHEC show, however, Microsoft will finally let us all in on the big secret by revealing the minimum hardware requirements for its next major Windows version. My guess is that those requirements will be far too low, and I think that people who believe they can buy a system today that will adequately run Longhorn in 2006 are fooling themselves. A high-end system such as Dell's 3.2GHz Dimension XPS is probably going to be the minimum requirement for Longhorn. A better bet would be a Pentium 4 system with 64-bit extensions or an AMD 64-bit system, although anything under 3GHz will probably be a waste of time and money--for Longhorn at least. That's my take, anyway.

Just Call It Lin-Dash has started calling its Lindows OS Lin--s in countries in which Microsoft has won legal rulings that prevent from using the Windows-sound-alike name. Pronounced "Lin-dash," the new name nicely skirts around the phonetic problems the Lindows name presents and lets the company continue to sell its wares in countries that have bowed to pressure from Microsoft. If any justice exists, US courts will throw out Microsoft's lawsuit against But then we've seen precious little evidence of justice when it comes to Microsoft, haven't we?

Microsoft Denies Working with IBM on Linux Office Port
   IBM and Microsoft have denied rumors that they were working together to port the successful Microsoft Office suite of applications to Linux. "Microsoft has no plans to work with IBM on porting Microsoft Office to Linux," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "It's not happening." In a rare moment of agreement, IBM concurred. "No, it's completely erroneous," an IBM spokesperson said. "None of it is true." I'm not clear about something here: Is Microsoft working with IBM to port Office to Linux?

Yep, Linux is Attacked More Often Than Windows
   And speaking of Linux, open-source backers cackle at the mere mention of Windows vulnerabilities. But as I've often said, those people are in denial because their beloved Linux is actually attacked more often than Windows, despite the fact that Linux is used on far fewer systems. Good thing it's not more popular, huh? According to mi2g, a UK-based security consultancy, Linux servers were attacked 13,654 times in January, compared with just 2005 attacks for Windows-based servers. Governmental servers were particularly hit hard, with 57 percent of all successful attacks on governmental servers occurring on Linux systems. "The swift adoption of Linux last year within the online government and nongovernment server community, coupled with inadequate training and knowledge about how to keep that environment secure when running vulnerable third-party applications, has contributed to a consistently higher proportion of compromised Linux servers," mi2g Chairman DK Matai said in a statement. In related news, a set of serious vulnerabilities in the most recent Linux kernel could let attackers gain total access to compromised systems.

Xbox Price Cut Reportedly on the Way
   According to various reports, in April Microsoft will lower the price of the Xbox video game console from $180 to $150, and rival Sony will likely drop the cost of the Playstation 2 at that time as well. The low $150 price point is expected to open up the Xbox to a much wider range of gamers and broaden its appeal with cost-conscious buyers. However, the $99 Nintendo GameCube is still significantly less expensive than the competition and has seen its sales rise as a result. Maybe Microsoft should worry more about Nintendo and less about Sony.

Windows 2003 Use Overtakes NT 4.0
   According to market researchers at Netcraft, Windows 2003 recently passed an important milestone: Microsoft's most recent server OS is now used on more Web sites than NT 4.0 is. In January, Windows 2003 was in use on 1.25 million hostnames--a 283 percent increase since the last report in August 2003. Most of these installations (534,000) were upgrades from Win2K, Netcraft said, and 272,000 were new installations. According to the report, 111,000 sites upgraded from FreeBSD or Linux to Windows 2003.

SPOT Users Experience First Service Outage
   Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) watch users experienced their first service outage when the MSN Direct service went dark for several hours yesterday. Microsoft didn't identify the problem but did note that the service was back online after experiencing problems. If you aren't connected to the Internet, no one can hear you scream.

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