Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How I love America

It's only a matter of time until someone sues Microsoft for its antispyware offering, currently named Windows Defender and in beta. Some spyware or adware vendor is going to sue them for singling out their company. Who is Microsoft to say that their spyware shouldn't be allowed to run on peoples' PCs? They're going to make it into an antitrust lawsuit, and it will be dragged out for years and years, and in the end, nothing of value will be accomplished, except a lot of money will change hands. Mark my words.


Anonymous said...

Then the probably shouldn't bundle it with windows. Because you are correct, "who is MS to say that spy-ware can't run?". The consumer. If they simply let the consumer download it, and strongly encourage them to do so, then there isn't a problem.

Its a grey area, I'll admit. Should MS bundle anti-virus software? If they do, we have a significant decrease in loss of revenue, productivity etc., due to worms and other similar attacks. On the other hand, manufactures of anti-virus software would scream bloody murder, end up out of business, because no one in their right mind would pay twice, and eventually we'd just have to trust good ole' MS that they are providing quality anti-virus software.

The computer world would be a better place if MS provided all of these software niceties with their operating system. Theoretically we'd all be safer more productive little PC users. But freedom, in this case of choice, comes at a cost. It isn't free (some one needs to tell George this BTW). To be maximally safe, you are way less free. To keep this in the proper context: in a competitive market, consumer freedom equates innovation. When the consumer isn't free to choose, then the consumer doesn't have to, and there is no incentive for companies to innovate anymore. Welcome to a strangely bastardized version of economic feudalism.

America is overly litigious. MS should bundle firewall software, spy-ware software, and any other tools which will keep grandma from giving the nice man in Uganda the deed to her house. People will bitch about it, and probably try to sue. One could argue that all of these things are the essence of a free market, and 'money trading hands' because of them is of value.

LukeW said...

Microsoft higher ups have, by law, a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of Microsoft. In doing that, it doesn't really make sense to leave security to everyone else.

I agree that money changing hands in litigation is an extension of the economics of free market, but I don't think its desirable. I think what we end up with is Microsoft as the puzzled Atlas trying to shake off attackers. That's not particularly helpful to Windows users.

I don't agree with the point that we'd have to trust MS on their anti-virus software if they bundled it. We don't have to buy their software at all, actually. We can buy Apple's, or Linux, or create our own. If Windows becomes as bad as people claim, we could all just wander off to OS X.

Travis said...

Maybe the saving grace will be community involvement. I don't think that nearly as many people will care about, say, the Phishing Filter in IE7 that makes your address bar turn red and prevent you from visiting known scam sites. Two reasons immediately come to mind: first of all, those sites are blatantly fraudulent and illegal, unlike spyware. They wouldn't have much of a defense, and it wouldn't ever go to court. The second reason is that the Phishing Filter is community-driven. If enough people say that a site is bad, then the site is bad unless proven otherwise. If the determination of what is and isn't spyware becomes not just Microsoft's decision but the decision of an independent group of people, then Microsoft suddenly becomes mostly off the hook, because then they aren't the ones deciding that Hotbar.com can't run software on your computer.