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June 5, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Security Problems Raise Government Ire
- Raising Windows 2000 Availability—Free Webinar
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
The recent string of Microsoft security patches has been so constant and nearly unmanageable that the US government, which relies on the Windows OS, is considering a plan to use its market power to force Microsoft to fix security problems once and for all or lose lucrative government contracts. The plan came to light this week when consumer advocate Ralph Nader joined the cause, noting that the government's software-purchasing policies can do more to curb Microsoft's questionable business practices than the fading antitrust case.
"The Department of Justice is spending years in court trying to restrain very modest elements of Microsoft's monopoly abuses," Nader said in a letter addressed to Mitchell Daniels, director of the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB). "There are serious problems with the Microsoft monopoly, including those associated with harm to innovation, security, and pricing. ... The federal government spends billions of dollars on software purchases from one company that is continually raising prices, making its products incompatible with previous versions in order to force upgrades, deliberately creating interoperability problems with would-be competitors, and is well known for engaging in many other anticompetitive practices. Would a business that was spending this much money be such a passive consumer?"
OMB officials admit that they've met to discuss Microsoft security problems. "All of us rely on Microsoft to a greater or lesser extent, and we all wish Microsoft did a better job on security," says David B. Nelson, head of NASA's computer security. "They come with all kinds of bells and whistles, and every bell is a vulnerability." A recent Pentagon study recommended increased use of open-source solutions such as Linux, noting that such solutions are less vulnerable to attack and much less expensive than Microsoft's proprietary software.
Microsoft claims that Nader's recommendations, which include requiring Microsoft to disclose its data-file formats, are unrealistic. "We think that if Mr. Nader took a close look at the software industry he would find that no one delivers more technology at affordable prices to empower consumers worldwide," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
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