After feedback from confused end users of Microsoft's operating systems and personal productivity software, the software giant has taken an unprecedented step toward improving end users' IT security - and satisfaction.
Microsoft's heavily subscribed e-mail Security Notification Service, which provides IT professionals with technical information about security problems and software patches, is to be blessed with a baby brother by the end of 2002 - an End-User Security Notification Service.
Subscriptions to both the professional and end user security alert services are free of charge, and can be arranged by visiting Microsoft's security centre online.
The new e-mail service will provide non-technical home and business users with easy-to-understand instructions for updating their software and, according to Steve Lipner, Microsoft's director of security assurance, its announcements "will describe straightforward steps that customers can take to help keep their systems secure".
Open source woes
This comes at a time when a recent Aberdeen Group report revealed that opposing 'open source' software (such as Linux) have just as many unannounced security problems as Microsoft's products.
The open source community faces two serious viability issues that currently seem insurmountable: First, there is no central body that can devote time and funds to finding, fixing, supporting and announcing security problems in the diverse array of open source products. Second, and most serious, the very nature of open source means that anybody can change a product's source code (whether for better or worse) and redistribute it freely.
Microsoft appears, to many industry observers, to be winning the war against low cost open source products and licenses by simply extending its free security services to its entire user base.
For more information:
· Visit Microsoft's Security Centre at http://www.microsoft.com/security
· Visit Aberdeen Group at http://www.aberdeen.com