Microsoft should own up

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2004-12-29 Print this article Print

Check that, I do understand why: Microsoft didnt want to accept responsibility for the problems it caused or the security features it left out. Think about it: The reason most people bought the original Norton Utilities was to resurrect lost files. Norton had an unerase utility, Microsoft didnt, and cash registers counted up the receipts. Microsoft created a problem, and you and I had to pay someone else to solve it.
Now the problems have become so pervasive that Microsoft ought to own up to having caused them—sometimes merely by ticking people off—and get customers out from the line of fire.
Im not saying the utility business should go away. Or even that Symantec doesnt add genuine value. But when I go into the store and see boxes upon boxes of security software—most of them yellow Symantec boxes—it makes me angry. Microsoft built its success on software it should have known was insecure but did it to speed development and, perhaps, because the real depth of security problems (or evil) couldnt be known. This was, I believe, the right decision. I am not sure wed have the widespread use of technology we enjoy today if Microsoft had taken more time building its operating systems and applications. But, once problems surfaced—like the early computer viruses and application hacks—Microsoft kept its head in the sand for too many years. This allowed companies like Symantec to flourish. Let me say clearly that I dont "blame" Microsoft for all the worlds problems. I dont think the company was negligent. It certainly was slow to react, however, and the delay has forced customers to invest in security products they really shouldnt have had to purchase. Despite the smiling assurances of Bill and Steve that help is on the way, progress has been insufficient. That can change, however, with the writing of a check, albeit a large one, to make good security software available to all its customers for free. Its the kind of move only a Microsoft could make, which is precisely why it should. For more insights from David Coursey, check out his Weblog.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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