It’s quite bizarre, I think, the whole world of anti-virus and security software. Fixing the failings in Microsoft’s products has become such a huge business for the likes of Symantec and McAfee that they are complaining bitterly about Microsoft’s attempt to fix the failings itself.
This is because Microsoft is getting into this business itself, and charging for software which is supposed to fix its own security holes – another slightly bizarre concept, but not, I suppose, much worse than a car dealer charging for repairs on a car he sold you, if you subscribe to the concept of ‘normal wear and tear’ being applied to software. It’s interesting, but Windows does seem to degrade over time in a way that other software doesn’t, so perhaps this model is valid! I’ve often wondered how many new PCs are sold because the old one is “getting very slow”, and the process of wiping the hard disk and starting again from a fresh install is just too scary…
Anyway, competitors worry that they won’t be able to compete with the official car dealerships because they won’t have the tools, and the same is true in the software world.
I worry about what incentives Microsoft will have to make a secure system, when they directly profit from its insecurities. Especially when some of the insecurities will only be fixable by them.
It’s about as far from the Linux model as you can get…
It’s truly an interesting economic phenomenon.
There are a number of similar phenomena, such as lack of documentation and bugginess of software and APIs creating the need for a very profitable ecosystem of purveyors of books, conferences, components, tweaks, etc., which in turn creates a large number of people who extol the system they are patching, partly because they profit by its use.
And it’s really not crazy, because launching a buggy, poorly architected product, as long as it fulfills enough of a need that people can use it, after tweaks by the ecosystem, you leverage the work of a large system of producers (the ecosystem), compared to, for example, spending a longer time designing and “doing it right,” while a different system is being adopted because it already is on the market.
I think the Open Source movement is a harbinger of new ways of leveraging larger groups of people, perhaps without going through the painfully slow evolution of poor solutions that hit the market and get adopted first, as well as enabling a larger degree of reuse, which allow smaller numbers of people to create new things by leveraging previous efforts.