Microsoft disses Windows security to sell...more Windows

Microsoft can't seem to get enough of smacking itself around so that users will upgrade to Vista. It makes me trust Vista. You?

I stumbled across this fascinating Microsoft tutorial today entitled "How to Justify a Desktop Upgrade." It's an attempt to coach IT professionals on how to sell desktop upgrades internally. Apparently the value of Vista is not readily apparent , requiring detailed instructions on how to connive and cajole into an upgrade from XP.

The most intriguing thing about the tutorial is its implicit rejection of Microsoft's older technology. Just a few years ago Microsoft was pitching the world on how secure and cool XP was. Now it's telling us largely the opposite:

[M]anagement may not be aware that the most compelling reason to migrate to a newer operating system, such as Windows Vista, is to take advantage of the latest security features.

"The problems with positioning upgrades is that, from a user perspective, the changes may not seem significant. But from an administrative perspective, some of the security features are huge,? [Bruce Johnson, a Microsoft partner] said.

"So, as an IT person, who is responsible for the security of the company from viruses and for making sure that everyone is safe, there are many features in Windows Vista that I like. It does a great job of keeping people from being able to browse certain sites. It protects from viruses, because there are a lot more things that will get locked down, and the lock down tends to be tighter. You have a tougher time having things happen accidentally. Probably the biggest hassle from a security perspective [with past technologies] is that users tended to run as administrators. In Vista, that?s not the default anymore."

Read between the lines and Microsoft is saying, "Our old security model was horrendous. defaulting to have users run as administrators? Foolishness! Oh, and guess what? Most of what we offer in Vista is not very new and hence not worth the upgrade, but since XP was a leaky ship, you'd better jump to Vista because it's Very Secure...at least, we'll say it is for now, until we need to upgrade you to our next OS."

With headings carrying such comforting thoughts as "The hidden cost of vulnerability," it's small wonder that many of us just dumped Windows altogether years ago in favor of the Mac (or Linux, in a smaller percentage of cases). When Microsoft's best reason for upgrading to Vista is how abysmal its old technology was about security, I can't see myself lining up to buy it.

Neither, apparently, can Microsoft, requiring it to devote web pages to showing ways to convince one's boss that an upgrade is necessary. It used to argue that XP is too expensive and that enterprises will save money by spending more money with Microsoft. Now it argues that XP's security stinks and hence requires an upgrade. Perhaps the Mac and Linux worlds just need to wait for Microsoft to do their marketing for them.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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