Sunday, October 08, 2006

Microsoft to take over virus checking?

Several of the big anti-virus companies are complaining that Microsoft's next operating system, VISTA, will prevent them from doing their job. Microsoft will apparently provide its own anti-virus software. But the other companies say that VISTA will not allow them to "hook in" deep enough to provide decent, third party anti-virus protection.

I have two strong opinions in this matter, and - strangely - they are in direct conflict with each other. Here they are, for your reading pleasure:
  1. YES! Anti-virus software belongs in the operating system, and - hurray! - Microsoft is finally going to put it there. There have been several sad cases in the past where whole industries sprang up to fill a hole in Windows, which Microsoft later squashed by adding their own similar software. But this case is special The best anti-virus protection should be built hand in hand with the OS, and Microsoft's doing the right thing.

  2. NO! After the other anti-virus vendors fade away, we'll have just one - Microsoft. They'll be a sitting duck for the virus writers in this world, and any hole found in Vista's code will be exploitable on EVERYBODY'S system. We're better off now, where a virus that beats Symantec fails against Zone Alarm, etc. And we're MUCH better off paying all these companies to research better virus checking, than trusting all the responsibility to fewer heads and a single culture at Microsoft.

I'm afraid my point #2 trumps my point #1. Very afraid.

Update:Sandi Hardmeier argues well here that the road to Security involves keeping anti-virus companies out of the Windows Kernel. So if my point #1 should trump point #2, I think we still need a way to allow other companies to insert contrasting types of anti-virus software into VISTA, even if Microsoft gets to act as the arbitrary gatekeeper about what to allow in.

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