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Commentary > Wastler's Wanderings
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Blaming Microsoft
Some think the software maker is at fault for the latest viruses. But you can't blame a target.
August 28, 2003: 1:41 PM EDT

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Let's all just beat the hell out of Microsoft. It unleashed the worms!

Well, that's what some people think, if the e-mails (uninfected) I got during the past week are any indication.

Perhaps we should not punish the wormers, but the company whose lackluster security measures are costing the world's businesses millions every year. -- Mike

Pillary [sic] Microsoft for putting code bloat and profits over delivering a quality program. -- Clem

These and many more missives were in response to my suggestion that worm and virus writers -- the folks who create the nasty stuff plaguing our computer systems lately -- either be beaten or be subjected to some informal electric shock therapy.

Before we start pulling out the lumber ... maybe we should recognize the questionably valuable role (virus writers) play in reminding us of the security flaws in an operating system that now defines the transfer of information for most Americans. -- Jim

I can't say I agree with these folks. I can understand the sentiment, though.

Microsoft controls about 95 percent of the world's PC market. It became the behemoth it is through some heavy-handed tactics, using muscle in some areas to drive out competition in others. And alternatives to Microsoft's Windows are fairly limited. Sure, Linux and Apple are out there and have devoted followings. But a lot of schmos like me want to be a lemming and go with the herd, OK?

Given all this, it seems fair that the company that overpowered the market and made its product the de facto platform for the world should take the hit for any security problems, right?

Wrong.

You may not like Microsoft. And you may not like the way it does business. But that doesn't mean you have a right to vandalize its products or its service. Or hurt the people who use those products.

I don't like my commuter train service. Alternatives exist but are limited. They could make the rail service better, but they don't. Does that allow me or anyone else to exploit holes in the transportation system, which are many, and screw with the commute? Of course not.

Sure, Microsoft could probably write better software. That would also mean it would take more time for its products to get to market ... products that customers want. Any time there's a time-quality trade-off, mistakes will get made. And maybe if enough of those mistakes happen, Linux and Apple will get bigger and bigger followings.

In the meantime, big and dominant Microsoft, while an easy target, isn't a deserving target. And those that take shots at the target should be punished.

Most of the people who wrote in last week, by the way, favored a beating.  Top of page




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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.