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Friday, November 10, 2006

November 10 - Vista Security

Breaking News! Vista is more secure than XP SP2. Well I should hope so too. BetaNews.com reports.

During a telephone conference with reporters yesterday, outgoing Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin, while touting the new security features of Windows Vista, which was released to manufacturing yesterday, told a reporter that the system's new lockdown features are so capable and thorough that he was comfortable with his own seven-year-old son using Vista without antivirus software installed. Allchin's statement came in response to a question about his relative level of confidence that Vista would be more secure than Windows XP SP2. In response, he noted there were key security features added to Vista which could not be added to Windows XP SP2 even though, he said, his people apparently tried to do so.

Two such features -- namely Vista's new parental controls, and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), which renders the object code of the system kernel in memory differently each time to thwart the designs of malicious code -- render his son's Vista machine comfortable enough for him to use, even though production-quality anti-virus software for the unit has yet to be completed.

"I would say that Windows XP SP2 did an amazing job, and I'm proud of what we did there. But you have to understand, we learned a lot during Windows XP SP2, and there were things that we couldn't put in that product," explained Allchin.

"I'll give you an example: It's my favorite feature within Windows Vista, it's called ASLR (Address Space [Layout] Randomization). What it does is, each Windows Vista machine is slightly different than every other Windows Vista machine. So even if there is a remote exploit on one machine, and a worm tries to jump from one machine to another, the probability of that actually succeeding is very small. And I wanted to do this in Windows XP SP2, but we couldn't figure out how to do it. So then a smart guy here came up with a solution, so we put it in Windows Vista."

After summarizing that past statement, Allchin continued, "Please don't misunderstand me: This is an escalating situation. The hackers are getting smarter, there's more at stake, and so there's just no way for us to say that some perfection has been achieved. But I can say, knowing what I know now, I feel very confident."

"I'll give you an example: My son, seven years old, runs Windows Vista, and, honestly, he doesn't have an antivirus system on his machine. His machine is locked down with parental controls, he can't download things unless it's to the places that I've said that he could do, and I'm feeling totally confident about that," he added. "That is quite a statement. I couldn't say that in Windows XP SP2."

Well, nobody has ever felt safe running a Windows OS without Anti-Virus protection. That said, Norton 2007 has been acting up for me. Pretty crappy piece of software if you ask me. I'll be more than happy to ditch them and move to a £400, if not more secure OS at the end of this month. At last. My worries are over! Well, with any luck.

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