Microsoft's audacity at its best: "Our software is less of a security risk than Linux, Mac OS X"

Microsoft claims to have "fewer days of security risk" than Novell SUSE Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Mac OS X. My response? Show me the data.

Wow. Sometimes, you read things like this and you wonder if Microsoft employees inhabit the same universe. Apparently, they haven't been following the rampant, constant security holes discovered and exploited in Windows over the past decade. Instead, they try to spin data in their favor to try to convince people that, in fact, Windows is more secure than Linux (and now OS X, which is a bit surprising since I had exactly zero security breaches in the last five years of running OS X - that's "zero" as in "none").

A Microsoft executive has claimed that Windows users faced fewer days of security risks on average last year than users of rival operating systems from Apple, Novell, Red Hat and Sun.

Jeff Jones, strategy director at Microsoft's security technology unit, has posted findings that show Microsoft released patches for vulnerabilities in Windows faster than its four competitors did for flaws in their software. Microsoft's last monthly "Patch Tuesday" was on June 12, when it claimed to have fixed 15 vulnerabilities. A Symantec executive acknowledged the accuracy of Jones' data.

Unfortunately, Mr. Jones doesn't reveal how serious the security "risks" were (i.e., it might be that an innocuous risk took awhile to fix because, well, it's innocuous, whereas the routine hijacking of Windows systems were plugged quickly because, well, they're not so innocuous). He also doesn't reveal any of the data behind his findings. Apparently, we're to take his word for it, like Bill Gates before him who said that OS X is breached every minute of every day. Again, I'm going on five years, hardly without even a reboot, much less an appreciable security risk. But maybe Microsoft is referring to a different OS X?

Anyway, it would be easier to take Mr. Jones' word for it if Microsoft had any sort of a record of security. That it has become adept at plugging holes in its leaky Windows ship I have no doubt. After so much practice, you'd expect the company to become experts at fix-delivery.

What would be nice, however, is if they could write software that works the first time. Or the second time. Or third. Or....

I'm sure that there are security flaws in Linux, OS X, and other operating systems. That's not my complaint with Mr. Jones' "findings." No, my complaint is that with a breach in Windows' security every other day (though Vista seems to be much better on this front), it's a bit cheeky for Microsoft to be claiming the moral high ground on this one. Delusional, some might say....

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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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