Bill Gates Feels "Very Bad" About PC Virus Problem

In the world of Windows, the landscape seems to seethe with viruses of every type; worms seem to undulate and multiply with ferocious speed, and the wilds teem with script-kiddies and crackers. It can be a harsh and unforgiving world; a world made more complicated by the myriad of patches, plugs, and veritable bailing wire that users of Microsoftis many OSes must use to guard against the more malevolent creatures of the Windows World.

Overseeing it all is one William Gates, founder, and chairman of Microsoft, provider of the worldis most pervasive operating systems. From his lofty position, Mr. Gates can see the width and breadth of the Windows landscape, so who better to ask about how Microsoft is handling the latest attacks? The New York Times has posted an excerpt from a question and answer session with Microsoftis chairman which is both revealing and puzzling. From the article Virus Aside, Gates Says Reliability Is Greater :

Q. You wrote a memo last year calling on Microsoft to focus on reliable software. Now weive had this series of computer-security-related events that make it appear to outsiders that you arenit making progress. Have you in fact made progress?

A. Well, weive certainly made a lot of progress in terms of creating more reliable software, building tools so that people can stay up to date so that they donit run into these problems, creating the procedures that make sure that the recovery actions get widely communicated. Weid be the first to say that weire doing more and more on this. It was very important that we got the company focused on it, made it part of the reviews of all the different employees.

The fact that these attacks are coming out and that peopleis software is not up to date in a way that fully prevents an attack on them is something we feel very bad about. We want the update process to work so automatically that in the future these problems wonit happen. The hackers are attacking not only our systems but other systems, and with the right kind of infrastructure and the right kind of work we can make sure they donit disrupt things.


Q. The buffer overrun flaw that made the Blaster worm possible was specifically targeted in your code reviews last year. Do you understand why the flaw that led to Blaster escaped your detection?

A. Understand there have actually been fixes for all of these things before the attack took place. The challenge is that weive got to get the fixes to be automatically applied without our customers having to make a special effort.

Read the full article, which includes Mr. Gatesi view of how the public may be seeing Microsoft after the latest round of viruses, at The New York Times Online.