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Short Take: Gee, Thanks, Mr. Bill! I Feel Safer Already!

Short Take: Gee, Thanks, Mr. Bill! I Feel Safer Already!

by , 10:00 AM EST, January 17th, 2002

In a "major strategy shift," Bill Gates himself has pronounced from On High that from now on Quality is Job One at Microsoft.

Eat yer heart out, Ford Motor Company.

Did you hear that sound? That was a verbal upswell of gratefulness from the millions of Microsoft customers as they begin to breath more easily, now that they've been assured that Windows and Microsoft Office will no longer have security leaks or privacy compromising "features."

Excuse me? You say that wasn't an upswell of gratefulness, but rather, a collective peal of sarcastic laughter?

Oh. My bad.

Anway, The Associated Press broke the story yesterday, under the title -- hold onto your bonnet, grandma -- "Microsoft Announces Strategy Shift." Now, let me see if I can read this with a straight face:

"Microsoft (news/quote) Chairman Bill Gates announced a major strategy shift across all its products, including its flagship Windows software, to emphasize security and privacy over new capabilities."

(Giggle...) Excuse me.

"In an e-mail to employees obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Gates referred to the new philosophy as 'Trustworthy Computing' and said his highest priority is to ensure that computer users continue to venture across an increasingly Internet-connected world."

Hee, hee... Sorry.

"Gates compared the significance of his 1,600-word message, sent Tuesday, to his so-called 'tidal wave' e-mails during the mid-'90s, which changed the course of Microsoft, and much of the software industry, to focus its products on the Internet."

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha...! Pardon me!

"He said this new emphasis on security for Microsoft was 'more important than any other part of our work. If we don't do this, people simply won't be willing -- or able -- to take advantage of all the other great work we do.'"

Ah-hahahahhahahahahahahahahahah!

"'When we face a choice between adding features and resolving security issues, we need to choose security,' Gates continued. 'Our products should emphasize security right out of the box.' The dramatic change comes after the discovery of major security problems in Microsoft products, such as flaws in the latest versions of Windows that allow hackers to seize control of a user's computer. Another problem allowed the Code Red viruses to cripple hundreds of thousands of computers running Microsoft products."

I'm sorry, I can't read any more. But you get the idea.

I agree with David Smith, who was quoted in the AP story. Smith, vice president of Internet Strategy at Gartner Inc., an analysts firm, "welcomed the move but said the strategy shift may be coming too late. Smith faulted Microsoft for developing broad, Internet-based strategies without paying enough attention to security."

Amen, brudder.

After quoting Gates's intentionally leaked memo -- did I say that out loud? -- the AP story delivers my favorite line in the story: "Other Microsoft executives declined to comment late Wednesday." I wonder why? Do they know that these are overpromises that they can't deliver? And if they can, why didn't they do this in the first place, hmmmm?

You can read the story yourself right here: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/technology/AP-Microsoft.html.

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