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IP: Another take on Microsoft-specific worms from Poor Richard
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 10:24:33 -0400



From: Poor Richard
To: <farber () cis upenn edu>

given that poor richard is often cast as the contrarian, it falls to him to
act as microsoft apologist for the esteemed interesting-people list.

poor richard asks that readers give him the benefit of the doubt as a
neutral party with respect to microsoft.

for example, while poor richard is of a mind to think that microsoft is
getting a raw deal with respect to its antitrust dealings, he readily
concedes that microsoft's legal problems are entirely of its own making.

a cynic might observe that had microsoft been spreading its largesse around
the beltway five years ago, not only would there not be any talk of
antitrust, but we'd probably have messr. gates' portrait on the five dollar
bill. instead, poor richard observes that it's all part of the democratic
experience, and yes, microsoft should have integrated themselves into the
governing and regulatory aspects of america years ago, just as we expect of
all our important consitutencies. poor richard has never been a fan of
unilaterial disarmament (or forgetting to arm oneself to begin with, which,
combined with a fair amount of hubris, is the root of microsoft's legal
problems).

with respect to the susceptibility of microsoft products to infection, poor
richard got quite a laugh when the official microsoft position quoted a
famous felon ("because that's where the money is"). one might think that the
lawyers who have so badly mangled the antitrust defense might, at the very
least, have sent out an inter-office memo to all staff suggesting that no
one give doj any ideas about a criminal investigation... perhaps such a memo
was sent, via e-mail, but inadvertantly given a subject of ILOVEYOU.

more to the point: poor richard regrets to inform the offended digerati that
microsoft is selling products that consumers want to buy. consumers and
businesses are more concerned about convenience than security. the plain
fact is that mass audiences prefer day-in and day-out convenience over
security, and microsoft sells to the mass audience.

microsoft is hardly alone in this behavior. just ask any credit card issuing
bank or their associations (i.e., VISA or Mastercard). for the truly
mean-spirited, poor richard suggests that the next time you're at an
e-commerce conversazione, ask the obligatory VISA or Mastercard guy how much
fraud occurs, on average, for each card issued in the united states. poor
richard predicts that, in polite company, this will result in an impolite
silence.

certainly it is within the technical prowess of the associations to develop
technologies that are much more secure; however none of these things get
deployed because consumers won't put up with the added hassle. (for example,
poor richard has a policy of not allowing sales clerks to take a dna sample
from the inside of his mouth for identification purchases, regardless of the
amount of the purchase.)

what poor richard has yet to see from the numerous digerati who pooh-pooh
microsoft's products is a concrete example as to how security can be
increased without decreasing convenience. poor richards suspects that
whoever figures that out should be able to have a very profitable
negotiation with the man who, in an alternative universe, has his portrait
on the five dollar bill.

as always, poor richard is happy to be proven wrong...


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