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Thread: Microsoft to secure IE for XP only

  1. #1
    AO French Antique News Whore
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    Microsoft: To secure IE, upgrade to XP

    If you're one of about 200 million people using older versions of Windows and you want the latest security enhancements to Internet Explorer, get your credit card ready.

    Microsoft this week reiterated that it would keep the new version of Microsoft's IE Web browser available only as part of the recently released Windows XP operating system, Service Pack 2. The upgrade to XP from any previous Windows versions is $99 when ordered from Microsoft. Starting from scratch, the operating system costs $199.

    That, analysts say, is a steep price to pay to secure a browser that swept the market as a free, standalone product.

    "It's a problem that people should have to pay for a whole OS upgrade to get a safe browser," said Michael Cherry, analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. "It does look like a certain amount of this is to encourage upgrade to XP."

    Microsoft affirmed that its recent security improvements to IE would be made available only to XP users.

    "We do not have plans to deliver Windows XP SP2 enhancements for Windows 2000 or other older versions of Windows," the company said in a statement. "The most secure version of Windows today is Windows XP with SP2. We recommend that customers upgrade to XP and SP2 as quickly as possible."

    By refusing to offer IE's security upgrades to users of older operating systems except through paid upgrades to XP, Microsoft may be turning the lemons of its browser's security reputation into the lemonade of a powerful upgrade selling point.

    That lemonade comes in the midst of a painfully dry spell for the company's operating system business.

    Three years have passed since Microsoft introduced its last new operating system, and its upcoming release, code-named Longhorn, has been plagued by delays. Microsoft last month scaled back technical ambitions for Longhorn in order to meet a 2006 deadline.

    While Wall Street anxiously awaits an operating system release that can produce revenues until Longhorn appears, Microsoft is eyeing the nearly half of the world's 390 million Windows users who have opted to stick with operating systems older than XP, including Windows versions 2000, ME, 98 and 95.

    "Ancient history"
    Microsoft denied it was deliberately capitalizing on the Internet's security woes to stimulate demand for XP.

    "Microsoft is not using security issues or any security situation to try to drive upgrades," said a company representative. "But it only makes sense that the latest products are the most secure."

    Microsoft has maintained that the browser is part of the operating system, a point of contention in its antitrust battle with the U.S. government.

    Last year, the company ruled out future releases of IE as a standalone product. This week, the company reiterated that stance.

    "IE has been a part of the operating system since its release," said the Microsoft representative. "IE is a feature of Windows."

    When asked about IE's origin as a free, standalone product, the representative said, "You're talking in software terms that might be considered ancient history."

    Microsoft promised "ongoing security updates" for all supported versions of Windows and IE.

    The ongoing security updates do not, as Microsoft points out, include the latest security fixes with Service Pack 2, released last month. Those include a new pop-up blocker and a new system of handling ActiveX controls and downloaded content.

    And it's those more substantial changes, rather than the bug fixes that come with routine upgrades for supported products, that security organizations have lauded for addressing IE's graver security concerns.

    Now it's unclear whether even half the Windows world will have access to the shored up IE.

    "It's particularly bothersome if a product is in mainstream support, because what does mainstream support mean then?" said Directions on Microsoft's Cherry.

    Microsoft currently commands about 94 percent of the worldwide operating system market measured by software shipments, according to IDC. (That number factors in revenue-producing copies of the open-source Linux operating system, but not free ones).

    Of Microsoft's approximately 390 million operating system installations around the world, Windows XP Pro constitutes 26.1 percent, Windows XP Home 24.7 percent, IDC said.

    The remaining 49.2 percent is composed of Windows 2000 Professional (17.5 percent), Windows 98 (14.9 percent), Windows ME (6.5 percent), Windows 95 (5.4 percent), and Windows NT Workstation (4.9 percent).

    That 49.2 percent of Windows users are left out in the cold when it comes to significant updates to IE and other software.

    People running Internet Explorer without SP2 face an array of security scenarios, many of them linked to lax security associated with the ActiveX API, or application programming interface.

    SP2 also brought IE up to date with its competitors with a robust pop-up blocker.

    "Although I can understand the reasons why Microsoft would like to simplify its internal processes, I'm not in favor of bundling security patches, bug fixes and new features into one package," said IDC Vice President Dan Kusnetsky. "Organizations wanting only security-related updates or just a specific new feature are forced to make an all-or-nothing choice."

    Firefox in the hunt
    While organizations and individuals weigh the merits of all and nothing with respect to Windows and IE, a competing open-source browser may benefit from Microsoft's decision to reserve SP2's browser upgrades for XP users.

    The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser is potentially eroding Microsoft's overwhelming market share even prior to its final version 1.0 release. Last week's release of the first preview release of Firefox 1.0 blew past its 10-day goal of 1 million downloads in just more than 4 days.

    Firefox, Apple Computer's Safari browser and Opera Software's desktop browser together command a mere sliver of market share. But features such as tabbed browsing and earlier adoption of pop-up controls have won them adherents among potentially influential early adopters and technology buffs.

    Even some Microsoft bloggers have admitted to liking Firefox.

    With Longhorn still years away, Microsoft is feeling the heat to produce a browser.

    That heat has come in many forms, from grassroots campaigns by Web developers urging people to switch from IE to Firefox and other alternatives, to Mozilla's own marketing push, to a steady drumbeat of lacerating Web log and newsgroup posts decrying IE's years of stagnation.

    "I've always wondered what the problem is with the IE team," one respondent wrote in a feedback thread on IE evangelist Dave Massy's blog. "I mean, it's just a browser. You need to render a page based on well-documented standards...and that's it! You've opted to not have tabbed browsing or any other personalization. It's just a window shell and the browser content...I wonder if there are only like four people who work on IE or something? I seriously don't get it."

    Massy and others have defended the company by explaining that recent development efforts have been geared at security improvements.

    A representative for Firefox, which will face security scrutiny of its own should it make good on its competitive threat to IE, said any pressure it was exerting on Microsoft to update IE was evidence of its success.

    "IE users need all the help they can get," said Mozilla Foundation spokesman Bart Decrem. "And we're trying to help them. If Microsoft will help them, all the better. At the end of the day, the mission of the Mozilla Foundation is to provide meaningful choice, and the reason there hasn't been a lot of innovation from the dominant provider is because of their monopoly position. So if they are forced to innovate and respond to the success of Firefox, we are achieving our mission."

    Some analysts say Microsoft's reluctance to issue SP2's browser security features to non-XP users has as much to do with being shorthanded as wanting to drive XP adoption.

    "Their main focus now is on Longhorn IE," said Matt Rosoff, another analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "It's a staffing and a cost issue."

    Rosoff agreed that Firefox and other second-tier browsers might benefit from Microsoft's IE distribution policies, but he noted that the vast majority of consumers are far less likely to download a browser than the typical Firefox early adopter.

    "From a consumer standpoint, I think evaluating other browsers makes sense," Rosoff said. "And Microsoft is going to face more and more users who are on dual platforms, who won't see any reason to upgrade once they see that Firefox offers the pop-up blocker and other features they'd have to pay for in IE? But most consumers don't download anything if they can avoid it."
    Source : http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-5378366.html
    -Simon \"SDK\"

  2. #2
    AOs Resident Troll
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    Looks like i will be up dating all machines to Firefox as upgrading to XP is just not possible at some sites....they still run 98 with legacy databases.

    I firewall(hardware software)....but you know users......and their browsing habits

    Even the banks here in Canada are still running legacy systems...that are not compatible with XP.

    It not only means updating the OS...but ALL the apps that businesses run on that OS.

    $$$$$$ grab...kinda like our government up here.

    My .02 cdn

    MFL
    edit

    and hardware to support the new OS
    good way to get the tech market going again
    How people treat you is their karma- how you react is yours-Wayne Dyer

  3. #3
    I don't see why people are up in arms over this.

    Windows 2000 is a four year old operating system, and there are times when you have to move foward. If someone was still on RedHat6 and they were complaining about having to download and upgrade to Redhat9, we would give them a firm slap across the face. But when it's Windows and Microsoft, "NO ! no! unFAIR!"?

    Sure, XP costs $125 on ebay. And? After four years I'm sure you could have saved that money up, and if you didn't prepare for future computer upgrades rather than playing it cheap to think that one particular version of anything is going to outlast and outpreform (even on gaming) a newer OS release... then it was your fault.

  4. #4
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    Pooh is absolutely right.....

    I have users coming to me almost daily with home computer "woes" and I ask them what OS they are running..... a full 50% have to go home or call home to find out..... Then, when they do find out the answer is often Win98.... My usual response is "go spend the $500 or less on a new computer, it comes with a superior OS.. Then do this, that and the other to secure it and you'll be fine"....

    Understanding that computer technology advances a whole lot quicker than automotive I'll put it simply.... How many vehicles do you see on the road today that were built in the early 1990's let alone in the 80's.... not many, but people still want to drive that Yugo computer...

    As an aside Pooh, I run Win2k on almost all my work systems and on my home PC too.... Just because support, in terms of security, is being removed by M$ doesn't mean it can't be secured.... It just takes some more work.....
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  5. #5
    Just because support, in terms of security, is being removed by M$ doesn't mean it can't be secured.... It just takes some more work.....
    Now that I can agree on

  6. #6
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
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    Now that I can agree on
    We agree often..... Sometimes it's your "approach" that leads me to believe that the wisest course is to move to the next topic..... ... and I mean that in the best possible way......
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  7. #7
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    What about times when it is not practical to update or to costly? I personally have worked for at least one company using NT4. Large scale companies that take years to implement and test before deploying to the desktop. And other companies that cannot afford the upgrade

  8. #8
    Really, I just see this as a method for MS to try to make more money, just like it was with stopping support for Win95. I know it's better to upgrade to XP, but some machines just don't meet the requirements.

    Both Home Edition and Professional have the same bare minimum requirements:

    233-MHz processor, 64MB of RAM, and 1.5GB of available disk space
    Microsoft recommends at least a 300-MHz processor and 128MB of RAM

    That might seem little, but what about all those other applications that run at the same time as XP? I bought an HP in 2002 with 700 MHz, but it only had 128 MB RAM.

    I guess it doesn't really matter anymore, because FireFox and other browsers are available for free. I just think about all those people who don't know much about computers, and how they'll keep using IE full of holes. Remeber, all the people here know a bit about computers, that's how you found the forum. But there's another larger chunk out there who use the Internet just as a method of fun.
    Neon Security

    It\'s time to put an end to malicious code & black hat hackers - Use a firewall and anti virus!

  9. #9
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    Why it is called M$

    Well let’s see how well this plays with compliance with their antitrust agreement. This is simply Microsoft’s well lets call it very late Trusted Computing first give your browser away for free then make it apart of your OS. Leave it full of holes update your OS leave your 1996 browser updates aside and then say trust us upgrade to XP or pay $99.00. Sorry this event today at work went over like ok this is a serious impact to this business as in under 100 employees. This has got to be a Marketing lame approach. Was their OS simply designed from the start to drive demand to purchase an upgrade to their product?

    Well answer is yes this latest marketing ploy proves it. As I understand it, you buy the upgrade to XP or pay $99.00 for an older OS either way your out of money either personally or as a business just to keep a “Web Browser” secure?

    This and to the partners of whom I work for is a no brain needed for thought ,|,, Bill
    I believe that one of the characteristics of the human race - possibly the one that is primarily responsible for its course of evolution - is that it has grown by creatively responding to failure.- Glen Seaborg

  10. #10
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    "If you can't make it good, at least make it look good."
    -- Bill Gates on the solid code base of Win9X


    I know not a single less irrelevant reason for an update than bugfixes.
    The reasons for updates are to present more new features."
    -- Bill Gates, on code stability, from Focus Magazine

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