Microsoft, please fix your software! : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Friday November 02 09:13 AM EST

Microsoft, please fix your software!

By John Dvorak, PC Magazine

Does anyone at Microsoft care to hire people who can fix security problems, or are they going to issue makeshift patches day after day? John Dvorak calls on the software giant to fix its software.

COMMENTARY-- You'd think that after the FBI (news - web sites) first warned the public about a computer virus, Microsoft would announce a comprehensive plan to fix what's broken regarding security flaws in Windows—and especially in Outlook Express. The company can start by wresting control of the browser architecture from the Web Consortium and other committees and immediately ceasing to allow fancy functionality that nobody except a few maniacs actually uses.

In fact, whatever increased functionality one gets from the Web because of these features can easily be eliminated with few complaints. The same holds for some of the stupid advanced features of Word and Excel that are nothing more than Windows dressing. Let's look at a few of the troublesome subsystems that let a Web page do more than simply present data to your computer.

First of all, anything obtained online that can actively read from or write to the hard drive must be permanently eliminated, or its functionality must be seriously disabled or limited. This flies in the face of e-commerce folks and other dot-com mavens who hope more intrusive capabilities could be implemented for market research and other marketing reasons. These people, few of whom knew what a computer was a decade ago, see everything in terms of marketing, and they push companies like Microsoft to pay little if any attention to security.

Microsoft is always asked about this security flaw or that security flaw. The questioners usually end with "Why do you even have such a feature?" Microsoft spokespeople invariably answer, "It's what our customers have asked for." You see this comment in a lot of the news coverage of Microsoft security failings. But which customers is the company referring to? Not me, that's for sure. And probably not another 99 percent of customers, many of whom can't even figure out how to put page numbers on a Word document.

Ask yourself, who (besides marketers) really wants an active Web page reading from and writing to the hard drive without intervention? Are cookies, for example, really that important to most users? Let's start by getting rid of anything to do with ActiveX, then let's look at the newest capabilities of the browser and disable anything that interacts with a user's computer, other than the display, with or without permission. Microsoft controls the browser. Microsoft should put an end to this.

Of course, what is the likelihood of that happening if Microsoft won't fix more apparent problems that also have no reason to exist? By this, I mean the structure and functionality of the Word macro language. Virus hunters have been telling Microsoft to get rid of macro capability as implemented, to no avail. We have yet to see the great killer macro virus that will bring everything down everywhere, but we've come close. And what good are macros if you can't use them or nobody will execute them? Both Word and Excel should be recoded from scratch under the scrutiny of security experts.

Then we have Outlook Express. The product has been under fire since its release, and almost every major virus uses Outlook's open-door security policy to turn individual mailboxes into spam-o-matic e-mailing machines. This happens over and over—costing the nation and the world billions of dollars—and nothing is done, which alone calls for the breakup of Microsoft. Have the company dissociate itself from e-mail programs like this dog.

Everywhere you look, there are problems, one after another. Microsoft's first point-to-point tunneling protocol was flawed. More recently, the newest version of Windows Media Player can somehow execute code and create all sorts of damage.

Microsoft apologists will tell you that Unix (news - web sites) has many flaws, too. It's riddled with all sorts of holes. I'm not going to argue that point, but Unix is a legacy OS, not unlike DOS in its ancient heritage. And no Unix vendor has the resources of Microsoft. Microsoft is the world's biggest software company, period. It should act the part.

I haven't even bothered to mention Microsoft IIS, which has more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese after a shotgun blast. Does anyone at Redmond care to hire people who can fix these problems, or are they going to issue makeshift patches day after day?

Gates was right years ago when he said that the market could change instantly and put Microsoft out of business. All we need is something else! Anything!

-- (, November 02, 2001


Hmmm. How DO you put page numbers in a Word document? :)

-- Stephen M. Poole (, November 26, 2001.


It is easy to put the page numbers on. You just never know where they are going to go. ;<) Recently, mine has been adding stealth page numbers. They show-up on the screen but don't print. I'm not sure what I've done.

Best Wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 26, 2001.

Reset your margins, Z. I had this problem last fall and Uncle Bob had the Word 2000 version. HE was able to print out the document with the page numbers, while I was not. I reset my margins and got the page numbers to print.

-- Anita (, November 27, 2001.


I will give it a look-see. It is on a G4 running Office 98. I have 2000 on a Windows machine without the problem [with Office; I still haven't been converted to wondernous of NT]. One thing I never do is try to figure out MS software [Office]. I really don't like the new versions. But I have to stay compatible with the staff and administration and they upgrade with each new version. Hey, Office 2000 only cost me $30.00 for the liscence.

For my writing for publication, I still prefer Word 5.1. That will stop since everyone wants submission on a disc or CD and compatibility raises its ugly head again. ;<)

Best Wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 27, 2001.


That's twice in one thread that you've failed to do your winky-thingie in green.

Don't let it happen again.


-- Stephen M. Poole (, November 27, 2001.

Hey, Office 2000 only cost me $30.00 for the liscence.

Gee, Z. I only paid $25.00 for it. [Heh] Of course the disks have been sitting on my desk for a year now because I no longer have enough storage to install it. It eats memory like crazy and my 'chine might be even lower on that than my brain.

-- Anita (, November 28, 2001.


You should try what I have at work. It is a dual G4 with 1.5 gigs. You just about need that for MS sofware anymore. This one at home only has 500 megs and one processor. One can tell the difference.

The dualie sure is fast with graphics. By the way, you paid the $30.00. It comes out of either a government grant or an industrial grant. Don't remember which.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 28, 2001.

I should try a lot of things, Z. This 'chine with 3 gig seemed enormous when I bought it, but [as you said] Microsoft stuff just kept getting bigger and bigger. Now, I can't even open the mail on my main account. I don't have the storage to do it. I've also grown tired of playing with it, regarding shifting stuff from logical disk to logical disk, deleting stuff to make more room, etc. One of these days, I'll reach my limits emotionally, put the important stuff [like a few resumes] onto diskette, take a sledge hammer to the thing and get a Linux system working from scratch with NO strings attached to Gates.

-- Anita (, November 28, 2001.

You have 3 gigabytes of memory. That's great. I believe that I can put that much on the dual, but 1.5 is enough for the moment.

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 28, 2001.

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