The Microsoft Tax: McAfee correctly identifies Windows as malware; Macintosh unaffected

Apple Online Store“Computers in companies, hospitals and schools around the world got stuck repeatedly rebooting themselves Wednesday after [a McAfee] antivirus program identified a normal Windows file as a virus,” Peter Svensson reports for The Associated Press.

“About a third of the hospitals in Rhode Island were forced to stop treating patients without traumas in emergency rooms,” Svensson reports.

MacDailyNews Take: If vehicle-makers sold products as unreliable as Microsoft’s, they’d be sued into oblivion. Yet, with Microsoft products, total failure in critical situations is not only immediately absolved, it’s expected.

Svensson continues, “In Kentucky, state police were told to shut down the computers in their patrol cars as technicians tried to fix the problem. The National Science Foundation headquarters in Arlington, Va., also lost computer access.”

“Intel Corp. appeared to be among the victims, according to employee posts on Twitte,” Svensson reports. “Intel did not immediately return calls for comment.”

Full article here.

Declan McCullagh reports for CNET, “The University of Michigan’s medical school reported that 8,000 of its 25,000 computers crashed. Police in Lexington, Ky., resorted to hand-writing reports, and turned off their patrol car terminals as a precaution. Some jails cancelled visitation.”

“Early reports attributed the widespread problems to a routine McAfee update that caused computers with Microsoft’s Service Pack 3 installed to incorrectly identify a legitimate operating system component as containing a virus,” McCullagh reports. “A report at the Internet Storm Center said the McAfee update registered a false positive and flagged the Windows file svchost.exe as a virus.”

“McAfee has posted a Web page on a separate site with detailed instructions on how to fix XP computers that have been crashing because of Wednesday’s update. It recommends manually downloading and installing an ‘EXTRA.DAT’ file, and then restore files that have been incorrectly quarantined,” McCullagh reports. “But that option requires a least a modest amount of technical ability, and as of 1 p.m. PDT, the company had not offered a better way.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Life’s too short for such bullshit (especially if you were in a Rhode Island hospital today). If you make it out alive, Get a Mac.

After all, if Microsoft weren’t so inept, people wouldn’t still be using a nine year old operating system.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Bill” and “Wil” for the heads up.]


  1. !!!!!!!!!!

    Holy crap… why the #*@*$%#$% do people put up with this?!?!?!?

    I was all set to get a good chuckle out of this story, but the opening bit about hospitals froze me into incredulity. I sincerely hope nobody has to die before people realize that Windows is simply not reliable in life-or-death situations!

    (Incidentally, didn’t Bill Gates once say something about how he wouldn’t hesitate to trust Windows to handle his medical care in critical situations? Wonder if he’d still come out and say that now…)

  2. “About a third of the hospitals in Rhode Island were forced to stop treating patients without traumas in emergency rooms”

    That is stupid. How can a PC breaking down stop people treating people?

    It’ll all be OK when the hospital gets iPads…

  3. When people bitch about a computer eff up and blame it on ‘computers’, I always correct them by saying:
    THE Problem is NOT that’s it’s a computer- the problem is that it’s running WIndows.

  4. I have 2 users visiting from over seas with bricked laptops because McAfee has hijacked svchost.exe. They are so locked out McAfee cannot even be updated to fix the problem. McAfee’s assertion that this is NOT rendering machines useless is completely false.

  5. I know MDN is all good knockabout fun, but really they shouldn’t have taken this as an excuse to jeer at MS when it’s McAfee that’s to blame.

    Apple users have been burned by McAfee before. Didn’t Apple withdraw their Virex product from doc mac because it was “problematic”?

    If anyone wants a take-away line from this disaster it’s think very carefully before installing AV software on your Mac.

  6. You can’t blame McAfee.

    McAfee would not exist if it wasn’t for the problems with Windows. If Windows was a decent OS, McAfee A-V software would not be needed in the first place.

  7. cool down. It’s mcafee issue not xp. Affected machines w. 5958.dat have checkpoint restore dissabled even in safe mode and connection to Internet dissabled. So how to restore the deleted files is not clear. Good that pc have USB ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    good job mcafee: your dat update is a perfect virus!

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