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Steve Ballmer Talks About Software Quality & Security

Steve Ballmer Talks About Software Quality & Security

by , 4:00 PM EDT, October 22nd, 2003

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, has security on his thoughts, and he spoke his mind at a conference yesterday in Orlando, FL. C|Net has posted an article, Ballmer: Raising Microsoft's security game , which details Mr. Ballmer's remarks during that conference on issues of software quality, security, and customer satisfaction.

Mr. Ballmer freely admits that Microsoft has a lot a work to do, according to the article, but believes Microsoft is making progress. He also makes many comparisons between the assumed quality of Linux versus Windows. From the article:

Ballmer, speaking here at an industry conference market research firm Gartner sponsored, acknowledged that the software maker has been late to introduce better ways for its customers to patch their systems but said Microsoft is now making strides. "I know we need to do better, but we are in this challenging position where the hacker only needs to find one vulnerability, and we need to keep them out," he said. "We have put a lot of energy into patching, later than we should have," he said. "We have been raising our game."

[...]

The Microsoft chief executive also contrasted the quality of software that's produced by commercial makers to that of software that's developed under the open-source model. "Should there be a reason to believe that code that comes from a variety of people around the world would be higher-quality than from people who do it professionally? Why is its pedigree better than code done in a controlled fashion? I don't get that," he said.

"There is no road map for Linux, nobody who has his rear end on the line. We think it's an advantage a commercial company can bring--we provide a road map, indemnify customers. They know where to send e-mail. None of that is true in the other world. So far, I think our model works pretty well," Ballmer said.

[...]

Ballmer said the market for Linux on client systems is still small. "It's smaller than the market for the Mac. The Mac is a nice, small business for Microsoft. But it is a small business. If someone says you have an opportunity to support a new platform that's less popular than the Mac, I'm not sure that is a good starting point," he said.

The full article is an interesting read.

The Mac Observer Spin:

While is may sound strange coming from us, but we agree with Mr. Ballmer on several points, and we think is it refreshing to hear Big Redmond's CEO admit that the company has problems and not blaming the customer.

We agree that the Redmond Giant is working to address the problems with software security and quality, and we agree that there is much more to do. We also agree that Microsoft is a big target for crackers, which is all the more reason for Microsoft to be doubly vigilant about the quality of the software it releases.

We take exception to Mr. Ballmer's assertion that the Linux development model is flawed, however, and the proof is in the pudding. Microsoft can sit and say that open source doesn't work all it wants, but that doesn't change reality. In the server market, for instance, open source products are among the best, most robust, and most popular solutions available.

The desktop market is more of a challenge for the open source community, as techies tend to write software for themselves, and not end-users, but commercial Linux vendors such as Red Hat, IBM, and others will eventually take care of this market. In short, open source development has been competing very well, and the very fact that the CEO of Microsoft has to take time to talk about it is validation of the development model.

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