Monday, July 12, 2004
This is odd. I have sent letters to the editor 4 times in my life and have been published 4 times. Hmm. Either they don't get many letters, or, well I better not think about it. I have on good authority that my head is already too large...
There was an opinion piece in the Financial Post, financial pages of the National Post, where Paul Kedrosky pondered the software monoculture question with regards to security. He made some comments that prompted me to write: (published in the July 12 2004 Financial Post)
So Microsoft 'can't go rushing out and patch the problem'? It must take 8 months for a serious problem to be fixed in their browser?
Someone said that if you can't fix your problems in two weeks, you shouldn't be on the internet. Either Microsoft's browser is so bad, so buggy so full of holes it took 8 months, or Microsoft really doesn't care. The fact that the patches came out two days after two security organisations urged people to use another browser suggests that they don't care. It is commonplace for security patches to be available within hours or days for other products.
I suggest that Microsoft only fixed things because they were losing sales. Or maybe it dawned on someone that selling known flawed software that harms customers could set you up for a nasty class action suit.
It is not the monoculture of software that is the problem. It is the monoculture of business plans, business strategy. Security doesn't increase sales. It takes the best and brightest of your developers off doing things that increase sales. Security makes your product difficult to use and setup. And a secure piece of software will hit the market a year later than everyone else. Microsoft's success is based on being first to market with neat features. Releasing a first version with promise (and bugs) that freezes the market for anyone else. To change into a purveyor of secure software, Microsoft must change everything that has made it successful. Not only successful, but an overwhelming monopoly.
Imagine where we would be if there weren't free software alternatives available.
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