By David Gewirtz
Our Special Report last week on the antivirus wars between Microsoft and Symantec generated a bunch of interesting letters to the editor. We've chosen three for your entertainment and edification.
You guys are beautiful.
Alesander Ganix writes:
It's hard not to hate them all. No matter how you slice it, Microsoft's just not going to be able to keep the OS secure. They're too visible a target. And, can we really be sure they want to? After all, they sell security services, too.
Symantec is out to make a pile of cash with antivir. It's a huge profit center for them. Why should they innovate when they can sue? It's a big moving target for them and they might not be able to keep up.
The spyware virus bastards out there should all die.
You guys, you are beautiful. That was about as fair a perspective on the issue as we could expect and it did clarify the players. But, wow, that Microsoft lady sure had a lot to say!
Jasper Blow had this to say:
Great article. My experience back when I had Windows 95 with Symantec -- aka Norton -- was that I purchased their software uninstaller program and with no package warning not to use it on a Win95 "plus" system, and it promptly trashed my system so that I had to completely reformat and reinstall everything. I know of at least one metro school system that had a massive meltdown caused by the same uninstaller.
Since that time I have avoided as much of their products as possible.
Don't let the Microsoft steamroller crush Symantec
George Palfi had the anti-Microsoft perspective:
I found that your analysis left out one basic fact. The majority of Windows users use the software that comes with their machine. They do not add other products unless provoked. This is the monopoly power of Microsoft. This is why IE became and remains dominant despite all its faults. Similarly for Outlook Express. This is how, in the distant past, Office became dominant.
Microsoft created a market for security products because they did not feel the need to address security until recently. They are now using their monopoly power to try to eliminate those other security products just as they did Netscape, to give one example. And the result was, once they had eliminated Netscape as a viable competitor, they neglected IE for years until provoked by Firefox. If they now manage to wipe out competition in the security sector, they are likely to go into a period of neglect on security.
Microsoft can, and should, do everything to improve the security of their products. But, because of their dominance, they need to be proactive in permitting competitive, and potentially superior products, to become known in the market. Most users will not, naturally, even think about these competitors otherwise.
I do not say this as a defender of Symantec. I do not even use Symantec products as they have become more bloated. But, I will defend to the death (metaphorically), Symantec's right to compete fairly with Microsoft, and not be crushed by the Microsoft steamroller as has happened to so many other software companies.
Defending against malware is not an easy topic. Sadly, it's something we all have to contend with.