Wurzlers Actions Speak a Lot Louder Than Microsofts Words
Ever since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer identified Linux as the biggest threat to Windows back in January, Redmond's marketing and PR offensive against the open-source software (OSS) development model has gone into overdrive.Ever since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer identified Linux as the biggest threat to Windows back in January, Redmonds marketing and PR offensive against the open-source software (OSS) development model has gone into overdrive. By now, few in the industry are unaware of Microsofts more outrageous attacks, such as Windows Platform Group VP Jim Allchins sly implication that the open-source General Public License (GPL) is somehow "anti-American," or Ballmers characterization of Linux as a "cancer." Amid all of the hyperbole, however, much less attention has been paid to their low-key but persistent claims of inherent insecurities in the open-source model. While there is certainly room to disagree on these issues, the security community has largely rejected Microsofts assertions of superiority. Experts question whether open-source software is more secure than its proprietary counterparts, but almost none would argue that it is less so. Nonetheless, Microsoft apparently has decided that it doesnt need to argue its point and simply can state it as established fact. In his now-famous May 3 anti-GPL address at NYU, Microsoft senior VP Craig Mundie devoted five words to the issue: "[OSS] has inherent security risks."
In theory, this low-key approach might have allowed Redmond to convince the general public that OSS presents a security risk while avoiding a concerted response from the security community, but the fates were not on Microsofts side. As luck would have it, Mundies speech coincided with the discovery of a devastating security bug in Windows 2000.