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Microsoft buys Linux antivirus company

And yes, the reason is what you think it is.

"The RAV product line will be discontinued after Microsoft completes the acquisition of the technology, Microsoft said.",10801,82045,00.html

Thursday, June 12, 2003


I'm tired of people trying to show Microsoft as something like Dr. Evil's Virtucon!

Microsoft is a *company*.  They have *competitors*.  Fewer competitors means more *business*.  Business helps them make *money*.  Money is the reason they are a company.

This is hardly unique to Microsoft, and happens everyday.  The only difference is when Microsoft lifts a finger, every "idiot who only learns info from media headlines" freaks out.

Conspiracy Anti-Theorist
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Isn't St. Ellison of Oracle trying a hostile takeover of PeopleSoft?

B*tch about that for a while.

Conspiracy Anti-Theorist
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Trying and, as of today, failing.


Thursday, June 12, 2003

The other difference with Microsoft is that they're a convicted monopoly. Just not a regulated one.

Make of that what you will.

not a conspiracy
Thursday, June 12, 2003

I realize this is pedantic, but its something that people often don't realize (unless they know any anti-trust law):

Being a monopoly is NOT illegal.

Profitting from your monopoly rents* IS illegal.

The issue here is that while Microsoft was proven to be a monopoly opinions differ on whether they are profitting from their monopoly rents.

[*]: monopoly rents" is an economic term (if I recall my econ) which covers the difference between the "fair market" price of something
and the price the monopoly can charge -- this difference is the "rent" having the monopoly generates for you.

Steven C.
Thursday, June 12, 2003

P.S. Anyone who actually KNOWS Anti-trust law, feel free to smack me down -- I just know someone who knows anti-trust law, and I like to pretend it rubbed off on me some.

Steven C.
Thursday, June 12, 2003

It takes two to tango in these business deals if i'm not mistaken.

I'm sure if this Romanian company shared the original poster's "concern" they wouldn't have sold their company -- or would they? They *do* get money and a new job.

Mickey Petersen
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Microsoft was convicted of using its monopoly position to levarage itself in other markets. That is illegal. Microsoft's unsuccessful defence was that it wasn't a monopoly, which is what causes people to talk about it being a convicted monopoly.

Microsoft would also have been convicted of quite a few more things if it hadn't settled first.

You can't say that Microsoft is just reducing competition in this case though because it actually isn't in the anti-virus market. However I suspect it as more interested in the technology than the product, and it probably has bought some smart developers.

With Linux MS is in a bit of a bind. It needs to be able to claim that Linux is a viable competitor in order to stop governments interfering in the market as they would have a legal right to do if MS was an accepted monopoly, but it certainly doesn't want Linux to be too much of a competitor for obvious reasons.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Stephen Jones,

..."With Linux MS is in a bit of a bind. It needs to be able to claim that Linux is a viable competitor in order to stop governments interfering in the market as they would have a legal right to do if MS was an accepted monopoly, but it certainly doesn't want Linux to be too much of a competitor for obvious reasons."...

That's actually a very good point and once I haven't thought about myself. Thanks.

Mickey Petersen
Thursday, June 12, 2003

There are very few Linux antivirus products out there.  So by buying up the few companies who do make those products and squashing them promptly, they hope to make Linux look less secure by increasing the ability of viruses to hit it.

T. Norman
Thursday, June 12, 2003

I suspect the GNU people are more happy than anything else.  It opens up a market that was well-satisfied to a possible Free Software solution.  (Say, one that only charges for updates, with free client.)

Especially since people will feel burned that companies can simply stop caring about supporting its customers.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Linux anti-virus programs won't make Linux seem more secure.

Windows anti-virus programs don't make Windows seem more secure.

"Real" security is related to how many bugs are in the OS.

"Media" security is how many bugs in the OS make headlines.

Microsoft has bad media security.  Both have bad read security.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

It's not that antivirus software makes an operating system look more secure per se; it's that the virus hits that make the news make them look less secure.  An absence of antivirus software on the market would create more opportunities for viruses to spread and do damage.

Unfortunately for Bill G., one of the reasons there isn't much of a market for Linux antivirus software is that it is secure enough that it hardly needs it!

T. Norman
Thursday, June 12, 2003

One of the main reasons MS software is particularly prone to viruses is its ubiquity and the fact that it is a mono-culture.

The analogy from real viruses fite perfectly here. How fast a virus spreads depends on how many hosts it can infect and the relationship is nearer logarithmic than directly proportional. Just look how fast an epidemic spreads in a crowded city compared to how fast it spreads in an isolated cournty area. Secondly gene variation, and sexual reproduction, provide lots of slightly different variations of the host, and the virus finds it more difficult to attack them. There are basically only three versions of Windows around, 9*, NT3 & NT4 and NT5 (aka W2K & XP); the fact that many viruses only effect one of the versions shows how a small change can make a difference. The administrators nightmare, which is the hundred of different versions of Linux that are deployed make fast propagation difficult.

Also there is the fact that many "viruses" are in fact worms that propagate through Outlook. Outlook is intended to be easy for you to work with, and so it's easy for a virus to work with too.

There is normally a trade-off between security and convenience. If Linux gets a siginificant share of the desktop and becomes more user friendly it will also become more prone to virus attacks.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003

Linux is far, far from secure.  Patches are almost daily.  And since even the patch is open source, hackers use the patches to derive the attacks, and then go after the unpatched systems.

It's inherant to the model.  You can't keep people from having the desire to be hackers.  If they can see the code, they know all your weaknesses.

Again, Windows is only perceived to be less secure because of the publicity their bugs receive.

Friday, June 13, 2003

[Microsoft is a *company*.  They have *competitors*.  Fewer competitors means more *business*.  Business helps them make *money*.  Money is the reason they are a company.]

All companies want to make money, that's not news. But that doesn't mean they can do *everything* to deter competition because the public benefits from competition. Are we really served when MS shuts down competition? What would happen if they bought every competitor simply to shut them down? Could we just write it off in the name of business and capitalism? Yes you can make money. Yes you can compete. But stacking the deck is a whole other story.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Walt, to say that MS only appears less secure because it receives publicity is rubbish. However potientially insecure a Linux system maybe in real terms a Microsoft system, particularly one using Outlook, is likely to receive many many more virus attacks than a Linux one.

As for whether Open Source is better as a security model than closed source that is a matter of debate. I think the balance of opinion is that Open Source is a securer model, but the argument is not at all clear cut.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003


You have to separate the types of security you are talking about.

Consider Windows and Linux alone as operating systems.  Don't think about the machines they are on, the network configs, etc.  How secure are they in comparison to each other?  It that arena, they are very comparable, since they are both very insecure.

When people speak of how insecure Windows is, they're really not talking about the OS.  They're talking about the fact that since there's a 9:1 ratio of Windows to Linux, there is a 99:1 ratio of Windows hackers to Linux hackers. 

Since there are so many more attacks on Windows, the media draws their attention in that direction, and people think that when 99% reports of hacks are on Windows systems, Windows must be that much less secure than Linux.  But it's not.

The metrics for determining how secure they are need to be level.

You can say that there are 50,000 kids flunking school in country A, and 500,000 in country B, and then say that country B's school system is bad.  But you can't ignore the fact that country A has 1 million people and country B has 1 billion people.

My point is that people make a false inferrence that Windows is less secure than Linux based on the wrong metrics, and it is the media that is providing the wrong metric.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Wrong Walt! You're talking hypothetical insecurity,  and the fact that Linux deployments are not uniform and MS ones are is one reason for MS being less secure.

In practice if you use Outlook or Outlook Express you are going to have a much greater chance of receiving a virus infection than if you use another mail client, and the odds of receiving a virus on a Windows machine is much greater than that of receiving it on a Linux machine.

And look at the server market, where there are probably more Linux machines than Windows boxes. All those machines infected with Code Red, or Nimda, or Slammer are not Linux machines.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003

Oh, hush. We all know that it's those unwashed Linux guys who are hacking Windows... :-)

Friday, June 13, 2003

At my university in our CS department, we had Solaris, Windows, and Linux labs.

Which one do you think was hacked on a regular basis?

It was the Linux labs.  They would be hacked from the outside, and used to run DOS attacks against the university's own web servers.

The Windows machines never got hacked.

The viruses you mention have common roots, and they only get spread these days through those who haven't kept up with the original patch that would cure all their problems.

But it's the pure number of users of unpatched Outlook that make it a big deal.  It's not the OS.

Don't kid yourself.  There are Linux viruses that go through email.

Microsoft is doing their best to patch the holes, just as Linux is.

You can't blame MS for people who won't install patches.

Friday, June 13, 2003

>You can't blame MS for people who won't install patches.

Yes you can. I installed a patch (from windows update, who knows which one since I install them all).

Now it takes 1-10 seconds to open a new window. calc.exe. Properties windows. Explorer windows.

Used to be .1 - 1 seconds.

People learn from experiences like this. What they learn isn't "keep system up to date".

Friday, June 13, 2003

Whoa, people. I think somewhere down the line an argument went astray. Let's look at this again:

(1) Companies are interested in profit.
(2) Less competition creates more profit.
(3) Therefore, a company should reduce competition.

We can see here that (1) is an obvious truth - capitalism is founded on this concept. While our country does not have a pure capitalist economy, for the sake of this argument we can classify it as such.

The weak point here must, then, be (2). Let's take that one apart.

(4) Companies are in competition for any given consumer's business.
(5) Gaining more consumers creates more profit.
(2) Therefore, less competition creates more profit.

Can you see the problem? This *is* the way most people reason the problem out, but it is very incorrect thinking. The idea of capitalism is founded on the principle of competition - profit comes through *greater* competition, not less. If a company is not allowed to compete (by whatever means) in a market, then no further growth in that market occurs. A monopolistic market actually experiences a *reduced* growth when compared to a competitive market. Ask an economics professor, and you'll get the same thing. When companies compete for business, better products are created for less consumer cost, so there is also a slower rate of inflation in the market. Ever wonder why Microsoft products are priced so high? They can do whatever they damn well please with prices. Consumers will buy it anyway - which is in line with economic theory.

So, the argument that a company should seek to *reduce* competition for greater profit is absolutely false. Instead, a company should focus on creating a better product and servicing the consumer (this is called the Marketing Concept). The company, if its product is worth buying to the consumer, will sell - perhaps not for so high a price, but the entire economy benefits, and so does the company in the long run. Profit is reduced in the short term, yes, but in the long run profit will win out - no need to "acquire" a company and pay a whole hell of a lot of employees. (Presumably, with the larger market, employees are given a competitive wage because there are less employees and less liability involved.)

So there you have it. Now argue to your heart's content about trivial matters such as why Microsoft bought some company. Who cares what the purpose is? Just evaluate the potential effect instead, and then the issue is not about the Evil Microsoft Empire, nor is it about people bashing Microsoft, the Joe-Schmoe Company. Now, can you see why Microsoft's products tend to be sub-grade (yes - they ARE - get over it)? Or how about the reason people bash Microsoft in the first place? There, my two cents are in. Next?

Ryan Egesdahl
Friday, March 26, 2004

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