Windows Users Want Results, Not Ballmer Promises

"Microsoft has set the bottom bar in terms of security," one user says in response to CEO Steve Ballmer's speech promising improvements. Some customers doubt Microsoft can permanently solve what they call an evolving problem.

ORLANDO, Fla.—Windows users said actions speak louder than words when it comes to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmers promise that Microsoft will fix the various security vulnerabilities in his companys computing platform.

In his keynote presentation Wednesday at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here, Ballmer asked Windows users to trust him that Microsoft would do whatever it could to fix security problems.

"Trust is not a word that I would use" in relation to Microsofts promises on security, said Paula Dallabetta, director of product marking at CreekPath Systems Inc., a storage management software producer based in Longmont, Colo.

She said she has no reason to trust Microsoft because it "hasnt delivered anything to date" that improves the security situation.

"People always joke that Microsoft has set the bottom bar in terms of security," she said. Dallabetta said she might begin to trust Microsoft "with the delivery of a product that actually works."

In his speech Wednesday, Ballmer said Microsoft has "learned more about security than anyone else in the world."

"We need to focus in on a few things," he said. "We need to engineer in fewer vulnerabilities going forward. We have new development tools to spot security vulnerabilities. We will release those to users. These tools have made a difference in [Windows] Server 2003 and [Windows] XP SP2 [Service Pack 2]."

Dallabetta said she hasnt deployed Windows XP SP2 and will rely on her companys IT department to determine whether to install it companywide. CreekPath Systems has had to contend with security issues and still has security concerns it hopes Microsoft eventually will resolve. She declined to describe in detail any security breaches the company has experienced.

It really doesnt matter whether one trusts that Microsoft will keep Ballmers promise to fix security loopholes in Windows, said Richard Warren, chief financial officer at Sterling Life Insurance Co. of Bellingham, Wash. If Microsoft doesnt manage to fix the problems, "What are you going to do about it?" Warren asked. He said most people have little choice but continue working with Windows.

But Warren said he agrees with Ballmer that Microsoft is certainly in the best position to understand the problem "because they have had the most exposure to it."

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Ballmers speech, in which he also talked about the companys relationship with Sun Microsystems and the impact of Linux.

"I believe they are committed to trying to do something to solve the problem," Warren said. But he said a question remains about how much Microsoft or anyone else can do to solve all of the security issues.

"I think that the problem is evolving," he said. "Its like saying that you are going to win the war on terrorism." New security threats and avenues for attack keep cropping up, he said.

"There are always people whose mission in life is to penetrate other peoples networks," Warren said. Hackers are always going to try to find new ways to breach computer security measures, so there is no guarantee that Microsoft is going to be able to permanently solve the problem, he said.

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John Pallatto

John Pallatto

John Pallatto has been editor in chief of QuinStreet Inc.'s since October 2012. He has more than 40 years of experience as a professional journalist working at a daily newspaper and...