January 19th, 2006, 05:30 PM
Whose OS is it?
Whose OS is it?
Yeah, OK rcgreen, we know about your middle age right-wing phobias and your
anti-Microsoft wannabe urban hip bullshit. Keep it short and sweet or we
will read some other thread.
I'll keep that in mind. Security is like a kaleidoscope. What you see depends
on the angle you're looking from.
IBM PC, 1981, MS-DOS. I guess you could say that an OS is only there to serve
up a killer app. Remember, a killer app is defined as an app that sells computers.
An OS is nothing without a killer app.
One that comes to mind from that early era is Lotus 1 2 3, a spreadsheet that
made the IBM PC an essential business tool. Other later candidates for this
designation might be Netscape, or Microsoft Word.
Now, remember that the OS is only there to serve the killer app. When you ask people
what they do on their computers (not computer hobbyists, but regular folks), they
are not likely to say "I run Windows". They will tell you what app they use to
do their work.
The reason I ask the paranoiac question, "whose OS is it?", is because of what
I percieve as a major shift in the "ownership" of the killer app of our age.
In the 1980s, the user was the focus of the killer app. You bought Lotus 1 2 3
because it helped you get your work done. Microsoft was content to provide
an OS that enabled that killer app, and they made plenty of money doing this.
The world is a lot more sophisticated today, and more people are "on the internet".
Some have suggested that "the internet" is the killer app. Maybe it was for a while
in the 90s, but we have moved on.
I'd like to tell you about a novel written by a 1950s hipster/junkie named William
Burroughs. You don't need to remember anything about it but the title. The Naked Lunch.
(the title refers to a frozen moment when everyone sees what’s on the end of every fork)
It refers to a sort of revelation, a sudden discovery of something (perhaps unpleasant)
that should have been obvious all along, but only now, for a moment, made plain.
Now you know. "Oh my god, now I see it!"
What has this to do with killer apps? Well, according to rcgreen, today's killer app
is not a spreadsheet, a word processor, or a web browser, but "oh, my god, no not that!"
Why should I tell you? The naked lunch is when you see what is on the end of that
fork, not when I rant my paranoid vision.
Here are two clues. In one sense it is obvious that "multimedia" and entertainment
is driving the sales of PCs. So far so good. What's so horrible about that?
Because it is a Jeckyl and Hyde monster, hiding the real activity behind the curtain.
Second clue. You need to become familiar with this slogan. "the monetization of eyballs"
"WTF?", you say. The economics of the PC has changed. In the 80s, Lotus made money selling
1 2 3. Microsoft made money selling MS-DOS, and you made money because you had the tools
to do your job. Today the money is in "eyballs", "pay per click" ads, and "market research".
Let me translate that into "Earth language", Adware and spyware.
Let me be more "naked". Adware and spyware are not nuisances, put on the net to annoy
users. They are the business strategy that an increasing numbers of companies are
relying on as their main or only "business model". Enterpreneurs have "bet the farm"
on adware and spyware as their ticket to riches. These are not script kiddies looking
to deface a web page, they are "big players" hungry for the bucks they need to
pay their membership at the country club. They consider themselves to be the real
owners of the net, while you "security guys" are just speed bumps on their road to riches.
Which "side" is Microsoft on? Yeah, I saved the Microsoft-bashing for the finale.
Microsoft, after all, is only a corporation, not the embodiment of the personality
of founder Gates, or present CEO Ballmer. Corporations have no "soul". They must serve
the prime directive, make money for the shareholders. They make money by serving the
interests of customers (customers being people who will give them money).
Why am I babbling about this? Remember the role of the OS. It is to serve as a platform
for the killer app. That's how they make money. Keep the customer happy. If the guy who stands
to make millions (billions?) monetizing eyballs, serving strategically placed ads is
M'softs real "customer", then M'soft will serve his needs by making a platform for
his killer app. If you, wanting to block ads, are the true "customer", then M'soft
will happily help you block ads, and even design an OS that is not ad-friendly.
They cannot do both, without being schizo.
OK, then whose OS is it then? Is it a platform for adware or a platform for you?
What's on that fork?
I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.
January 19th, 2006, 10:36 PM
You redeemed yourself in my mind. That was well written, insightful and intelligent. I congratulate you if that is an original thought, really.....
I just got a funny feeling when we got down to the last paragraph or two. It is clearly an MS bash.... But it is an intelligent one so we don't need to arguing about that.
You accurately identified a viable issue - that of the requirement of shareholders to profit from their investment. But you messed up on the conclusion, IMO, that MS can't serve both populations. They can when they have such a huge installed base. Of that installed base there are the "educated" and the "uneducated". These populations will be fairly evenly split between corporate and personal in terms of cash spent. So, MS can fulfil the corporate desire for trying to stop malware/spyware at a high profit, thus satisfying the shareholders and, at the same time, allow the "assault" on the personal users, (while selling the OS for little but reaping the revenue from those who might pay them for "ways in"), which also fulfils the desires of the shareholders.
In the end I think it's a conspiracy theory... It's a good one though.... and well put...
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
January 20th, 2006, 06:08 AM
That was a very well written piece and I agree with you up to a point. Whether or not Microsoft is in on it or not that is beyond me and I am an advocate for any OS that you feel comfortable with and can securely lock down yet still complete the functions you need to....
I would also like to add to the thread/rant/whatever in the aspect of that techy is becoming cool. I am trying to figure it out. Now I am rather young creeping on my 21st birthday but I remember programming on my PC Junior when I was 8 years old creating horrible games (which I thought was the most amazing thing). However when I shared the find of computer programming and the power a person has that can obtain the knowledge of prgramming they made fun of me. Well I sorta fell away until about 5 years ago when I was brought back heavily into web design and networking. So needless to say as a 15 year old that was not really a conversation point with my friends. But it seems that as I grow older and I am sure alot of you who have been in the "game" for awhile have seen this ten-fold is that it is slowly becoming more and more "in" to be techy. I see people at local coffee shops and restaurants doing work on their laptops. Now I am not saying that there is a problem with them being on their laptops but have you looked at some of the laptops people have.... For instance...
I ran into one gentleman who was earning his masters degree in economics. Being that economics has always been an interest of mine I struck up a conversation with him noticing that he had a $3000+ Apple notebook I started talking to him about the Apple computers and how he liked it and so on. We continued to talk briefly about local economic problems and how if at all they could be rectified. However it was not the econimics that I wanted to tell you about but the actual reason I started speaking with this gentleman was that he didn't seem like someone who needed THAT laptop so after alittle talking I found out he bought a $3000+ laptop to accomplish three tasks he told me, 1. browse the web, 2. write up documents, 3. listen to music. So what I gathered from this is that he wanted to fit in. He wanted the cool 17inch screen white laptop. It dawned on my that suddenly it is fashionable to have the coolest looking laptops. With very little regards to how the laptop performs. It is sad to say that people actually are buying laptops based on looks as supposed to how they operate. I have seen many people buy a machine based on looks whether it be "cute" or "slick."
I am not saying they can't look good I mean I was drooling over the gentlemans laptop but it was a shame that just because it looks cool he spent $3000+ when a few $100 one would have accomplished the same thing. Oh well when corp america says something is cool it must be.
January 20th, 2006, 08:14 AM
I debating posting to this... I could almost see this becoming a Cosmos discussion if played out properly... and while I should be in bed... (I did some computer swaps today, which means I have to beat my users in... which means I'm gonna be walking into my office in less than 5 hours... hopefully).. Anyways... Enough of an off topic.. let's get on with the show..
Mr. Green, it was definately well written and thought out... were you really that bored today?
Adware is undoubtedly a huge industry... Back in March (2005) Richard Stiennon (of WebRoot) released some interesting numbers in his blog at www.threatchaos.com. The first was released on March 28th and announced numbers 2 - 7 in the Adware industry
(Italics throughout quotes are my inserts, comments and paraphrasing)
To keep the readers interested, he released the number 1 a couple days later... No Surprise when you see which of the big names are there... It was CWS
Here are the raw numbers for the number 2 through 7 most prevalent pieces of adware we found: [i] This was from a sampling of 1.49 million machines.. The actual number of "active' machines is reported around 265 million... the extrapolations are in the ()
Gator (GAIN) - 215,866 (38,400,000)
180search Assistant - 203,707 (36,200,000 )
BlazeFind - 178,230 (31,700,000 )
ISTbar/AUpdate - 159,137 (28,300,000 )
Transponder (vx2) - 158,505 (28,200,000 )
Internet Optimizer - 154,901 (27,500,000 )
Now, let’s look at how much money these “customer installations” generate. Look at my column in CIO Update where I go over the adware economy and come up with a number for the average cash flow per “customer installation” per year: $2.40
Gator (GAIN) - $92,000,000
180search Assistant - $86,000,000
BlazeFind - $76,000,000
ISTbar/AUpdate - $68,000,000
Transponder (vx2) - $68,000,000
Internet Optimizer - $66,000,000
If you very quickly do the math (if you assume only $200 million for CWS) you're looking at $656 million. That's a lot of money... and a huge industry to have a chunk of... but in comparison... how big is it.. Let's look at the revenue of some IT companies..
Half of all machines on the Internet are infected with Cool Web Search. Yesterday I used some data that is available on revenue generating capability of adware to project what each of the adware vendors are doing in terms of annual revenue. If I were to use the same numbers to calculate CWS’s revenue it would be well over $200 million. It is hard to imagine an illicit group of hackers garnering that sort of revenue. I suspect that CWS is much worse at maintaining consistent revenue per infection because it is the Ebola of the Internet. It is so malicious that it tends to break the ability of a machine to browse effectively and therefore limits the number of ads and click-throughs that can be generated. Like Ebola, it kills its host before it can be productive.
EMC (VMWare is a subsidiary of these guys) - Revenue - 2.24 Billion for 1 quarter... That's a revenue of 8.96 Billion for the year (if you assume a steady revenue, however they increased for 7 consecutive quarters so another rise could be expected)... You could say that their expenses are higher... so let's look at their net ($270 million)... that's 1080 million or almost 1.1 Billion (Net) for the year... that far exceeds all the Adware companies combined. (Source: http://www.computerworld.com/printth...101174,00.html)
Symantec - Revenue - 700 million for 1 quarter... again if we extrapolate that evenly for the year... that's 2.8 Billion/year... Net 199 million/quarter or 796 million/year (Source: http://www.symantec.com/press/2005/n050728.html.
Adobe - Revenue - 510.4 Million for 1 quarter - over the year that would be slightly over 2 Billion... Net - 156.3 million/quarter... over the year (625.2 Million).. (Source: http://stuff.techwhack.com/archives/...oved-earnings/
I could go on and on... but I think I've made my point. Adware is big business.. but in the IT world it's by no means the biggest business...
Microsoft has done a lot to protect against spyware and adware for users... You can disable your ActiveX and ActiveScripting in IE, you can obtain Microsoft Defender (Anti-Spyware), they provide the Malicious software removal tool...
Microsoft wants their money... and everyone knows that.. but they don't take additional effort to make it "easier" for spyware and adware to infect your computer... and I truely believe that Microsoft is software for the people....
Everyone knows Microsoft isn't against advertising... no one is... You've got banner ads, pop-ups and adware... Microsoft ads are served to use right here on AO through doubleclick (I believe)... MSN Messenger has ads displayed at the bottom of it... Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live are launching and some of the services offer free ad-based versions of the software... but you, the customer, are aware of this right from the beginning. I know a lot of people that like the Opera browser and were willing to use the Ad Sponsored version... How about people that took advantage of (and still do) NetZero's ad-based free dial-up internet... or places like these that pay you to have ads displayed while you surf (http://amby.com/tools/get-paid.html)... I know plenty of people that received checks from AllAdvantage.com... Advertising is everywhere... and most of it is known to us...
However now we get adware and spyware... but who's fault is it that we get infected??? Most of the time it's the users fault.. I've seldom ran a spyware/adware scanner on my PC and found an infection... I've also seen computers with 100s and 1000s of infections... It all comes down to the user...
Microsoft makes more money from the legit uses of Windows than the back-alley advertising... but they have to cater to their customers... Ordinary Joe Blow from down the street... He doesn't want to have to log into a seperate account to install his software, or click OK that he trusts a site with ActiveScripting on it... He doesn't want to allow every change to his registry or restrict the functionality of his computer... He wants it to be easy... So that's what Microsoft gives him...
Now you also have to look at this from the business stand point for the Adware Companies because I know someone will say "Why do they only seem to target Windows"
With Windows holding 90% of the market share, why would anyone want to provide spyware or adware for Linux/Mac... Now if we take Richard Stiennon's number of 265 million active computers on the internet... That means that there are 238.5 Million Windows PCs... The odds of a Windows Computer visiting your site rather than a Mac are nearly 30x better... That's pretty good odds, 30:1 (No one's going to bet against that).
Current trend is that Windows XP is growing fast. The windows family counts for about 90%:
Windows XP - 72%
Windows 2000 - 13.4%
Windows 98 - 2.5%
Windows NT - 0.3%
Windows 2003 - 1.7%
Linux - 3.3%
Mac - 3.5%
Anyways, I've jumped around a lot and rambled a lot... and at one point I feel asleep while typing this, so I think it's time to wrap this up..
Microsoft designs their operating system with their customer in mind... Their customer is you... well maybe not you specifically but for joe blow next door... There's more money in them playing fair than there is in joining the bad guys...
As a side note: a*user: you commented on the guy with the $3000 laptop... maybe he's a Mac person and didn't want a PC... many people simply won't buy them... maybe he wanted it because for a long time a Mac laptop was a lot nicer than a PC Laptop.. or maybe he thought it was slick and cool... Being Tech isn't cool... Being up to date is... That's what a laptop makes you... Most people have PCs today, where as 50 years ago they'd have had a typewritter or a hammer... It's a business tool... Why do people spend more than they have to on a tool (it may hold up better... compare a dollar store hammer with a wooden handle, to a nice solid steel hammer) or like Cars they want to impress people and enjoy the luxury... A Ford Festiva will get you from point A to point B... but you can be damn sure that no one that can afford a Benz, or a Porche... or even a Pontiac will be going into the dealership and asking for that Festiva..
On that note... g'nite all
IT Blog: .:Computer Defense:.
(Pronounced Pinched): Acronym - Point 'n Click Hacked. As in: "That website was pinched" or "The skiddie pinched my computer because I forgot to patch".