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

64 Comments

  1. God, Dont flatter yourselves people. The interview had nothing to do with OS X . Its just another interview with BG. Who cares. Maybe if you people would actually do something (like get people to switch) instead of waiting for news on microsoft just so you can bash the hell out of any little thing you can find to bash. There might be more Mac users out there. But instead you all make it known that you are somehow, someway, “superior” to everyone else (Grow-up, It is a computer, right?) just because of the computer you drive… This is part of the reason why people dont swtch to the snobby, yuppi, dinkish “cult” known as Mac. I use em both..(so bash me for it,infact flame me for it, I dont care) does it really make a difference?. So I guess I should have some sort of “Split” personality, keeping one part of the brain from using the other..Puh-Lease. Im mean come on. If you guys really believe that a computer makes you superior, than you all have another thing coming. I drive a ferrari, So therefore, the car YOU drive, the computer you use, and the house you live in are all inferior to my successful lifestyle (now does that sound like a friggin adult?????) (or are you all like 14, still poping zits and wiping of the keyboard when your done?)…Grow up tight wads.

    brought to you by “these” as in Some of *These* Mac people need to grow the hell up.

  2. Why should Gates talk about OS X? Linux is far more prevalent in the enterprise market and therefore more of a worry for Microsoft. With Linux, you don’t have to buy new Intel hardware, just change the OS from Windows. It’s a different story for Apple. And besides, the interview was with Bill Gates, not Steve Jobs.

  3. Microsoft is sponsoring all the studies that say Linux and OS X are vulnerable to virus attack if you have physical access to the machine.

    They also pay security companies to find security flaws in Linux and OS X and release those results at just the right moment. They had one sit on 5 OS X flaws an release them just after the Mac mini debut. Good thing there was no ‘We Are Invulnerable’ add campaign.

    If there ever is a successful Mac OS X virus or trojan Microsoft will have bought and paid for it and probably picked just the right time for it’s release.

    Yes Bill Gates is scared. Scared shitless.

  4. He’s been saying this stuff since the 80’s…

    the hitch..

    VIrus Writers are developers too..” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    and they looooove Windows…

    Gates is right..but Windows still blows..

    MS should be making enough money to hire people and stamp out these problems.. and that’s what they do.

    Then again… their OS is so old and full of holes..

  5. “Microsoft is sponsoring all the studies that say Linux and OS X are vulnerable to virus attack if you have physical access to the machine.”

    Microsoft has sponsored countless “independent” Linux studies proclaiming security issues, NEVER for Mac OS.

    Get your facts straight. BG does not care about Mac OS period. Linux, definitely, Mac, no.

  6. “Gates: … However, spam or data theft are not questions of the operating system. For this, you also need laws and global standards.”

    Laws and global standards are BG’s last refuge. He knows he can’t compete in the market of ideas. I have a feeling that this initiative is more to protect his future business, than it is a security issue.

  7. The problem Bill has is that he is no GW. People expect Bill to be somewhat intelligent so he can’t use the old “repeat until it sounds true” trick that GW uses.

    I love Speigel’s reaction in the first quote:

    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?

    When you spew facile idealism 180 degress opposite to conventional wisdom, saying “I beg your pardon,” is the polite way to laugh.

  8. Re: “HEY GUYS, I WANT TO BE SUPERIOR TOO!!! NOT!”

    His one hand says, “Stop saying you’re superior!” whilst the other hand blathers, “Get people to switch!”

    Praytell, how are we supposed to get people to switch without espousing the superior nature of the product???

    You’re just a blah blah person.

  9. A few fraid nerves above it seems. Now now boys don’t be so sensitive and defensive for your dear old uncle Bill. Actually its your ‘Master’ that sounds more like he is taking the supremacist root what with preaching the electronic version of eugenics ie purity equals superiority. Some people never learn it seems

  10. This interview is priceless! I love this part:

    “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.”

    One only need to spend “billions” to ensure security IF THEY’RE USING WINDOWS!!! They have thousands of people responsible because their system is so insecure!

    Then the interviewer specifically asks about OS X, but he changes the subject to Linux because he can’t argue with him about the Mac.

    I think he took lessons from Iraq’s Minister of (dis)Information.

  11. “…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.

    Excuse me? Maybe microsucks and other companies with windoze has to spend billions on security, but not for Macs!

    He has no vision. No style. No idea what he’s talking about. He’s such an idiot.

    When reading interviews with Billy goat, his words don’t connect with me. He has no original ideas and is so frickin boring! But when I read interviews with Steve Jobs, he has such conviction about his vision and it sounds so exciting.

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