Microsoft’s Gates espouses homogenous operating system environments for better security

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 49, talks about the thorny issues of computer security and other issues with SPIEGEL magazine. In the interview, Gates espouses homogenous operating system use. An excerpt:

Gates: The truth is: the fewer operating systems there are within a company, the better it is from a security point of view.

SPIEGEL: I beg your pardon?

Gates: Simply because one must spend billions of dollars to ensure the security of each individual system. Our company has an unbelievable number of people who are solely responsible for this type of security around the clock.

SPIEGEL: The particular charm of Linux is that it is an adaptable system that users can shape themselves.

Gates: If everything runs under the same platform, however, you can better concentrate resources and more quickly repair errors. For instance, in a hospital where different systems are used, a single problem in one section cause the other systems to crash. Thus, from a security standpoint it is always better to focus on one system.

SPIEGEL: But your small competitor Apple, for example, is much less frequently a victim of virus attacks …

Gates: … put so sweepingly, that is not correct. Of course we are the largest target, simply because we have the most widely disseminated system. But it affects others in exactly the same way. Linux is, in many respects, even more significantly affected.

SPIEGEL: In a few hours a Windows virus can travel across the world like an epidemic…

Gates: … above all because of our global popularity. But we know that. And we must apply still more time and money to it. However, spam or data theft are not questions of the operating system. For this, you also need laws and global standards.

SPIEGEL: Once again: Windows is the most vulnerable.

Gates: You could look at that in many ways. The speed with which, for example, the Linux community reacts to problems is not especially high — that’s because this system, unlike ours, simply does not keep thousands of people on standby to deal with problems. In this respect, a commercially distributed operating system also has decisive benefits. Sweeping judgments don’t help because we all have to take the problems seriously. Even Linux developers know that there is no miracle cure in Linuxland. They, too, must continue to work and continue to make progress.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Note how Gates turns the conversation from Apple’s Mac platform to Linux and makes no mention of Mac OS X. That’s very telling, as are the related articles below. One can only hope that those wedded firmly to homogenous Microsoft Windows networks, will wake up and realize that diversity of platforms is the best course to chart for the future if security is really their goal.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Single Mac keeps company running while Windows machines fail due to Blaster worm – August 13, 2003
MSBlaster Windows worm cost: hundreds of millions of dollars – August 13, 2003
Congress members frustrated with computer viruses wonder how to protect public – September 11, 2003


  1. Monocultures are ALWAYS more susceptible to epidemics, including (or especially) electronic ills.

    Magic word: number. As in, maybe Bill fears Microsoft’s number is up, a consummation devoutly to be wished. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”angry” style=”border:0;” />

  2. He knows he’s wrong, he is such a politician for his own product he will spew these lies. Its very similar to biology, if everyone is the same and a virus attacks us and we are vulnerable we all die. If mixed within the whole there are differences, then we are not ALL vulnerable and we all won’t die. If our biology works that way then it’s the right way.

  3. Notice the abject fear as Gates’ eyes (conversationally) STAY turned away from OS X. He can’t even address it. Good example is like a beaten dog. If a dog has been beaten, when you raise your hand, it turns away from you but still cringes.

    Gates’ fear of Mac shows clearly here. And he has always had this problem in interviews. Look at it… he keeps talking over the interviewer.

    Brought to you by the magic word DEFENSE, as in Bill’s on the defense now that people are finding out the important issue about OS’s. Security.

  4. And I suppose all of Nebraska should be sown with a single strain of wheat?

    “…a single problem in one section cause the other systems to crash.” “…it affects others in exactly the same way.”

    No wonder this guy got blindsided by the Internet. Apparently he still doesn’t get it.

  5. It is commercial suicide for any company to use just a mono-operating system on their network.

    Theres a phrase in the UK – ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’!

  6. does anyone actually expect Gates to say “Well sure Apple’s operating system is far less vulnerable than ours! And not because of it’s smaller market share, oh no, but because it is much higher quality in construction and security features. EVERYONE knows this, even we here at Microsoft. That’s why we think it’s a good idea for every business and individual to be responsible and diversify their operating systems. Windows, or any OS for that matter, can’t be trusted to work in a homogenous environment.”

    Seriously, why bag the guy for doing exactly what any CEO is going to do. Talk up their company and how great they are for the entirety of Terra Firma?

    Gates is a tool, but this interview has little to do with it.

  7. Man, they are handing out some serious kool aid at Microsoft these days. Are they practicing the “Big Lie” theory or what! First we get Ballmer telling us that MS was first with everything, now Gates is claming that a single platform is more secure than multiple platforms.

    Is he really that out of touch?


    The company will drown in its own kool aid.

    Talk about reality distortion fields. Steve has nothing on this.

  8. “Gates’ fear of Mac shows clearly here. And he has always had this problem in interviews. Look at it… he keeps talking over the interviewer.”

    Yeah, Bill’s scared of Mac’s shrinking market share. Don’t kid yourself, he’s far more nervous of Linux than Max OS. He couldn’t give a rats ass about Mac.

  9. > Theres a phrase in the UK – ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’!

    Well, there’s a US corollary: Put all your eggs in one basket- then WATCH THAT BASKET! Who needs a single, intelligent purchasing decision when you have “thousands of people on standby to deal with problems”? Is Gates vying for a Homeland Security contract or something?

    I don’t have a monoculture in my home units… I’m holding out on my WinNT box at work… and I can get to work by car, motorcycle, two bicycles, several bus routes… and I even hiked it once, just to prove a point.

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