In general I am a very easy going guy, not much bothers me, only a few things. Poor products, a lack of interest in following standards, and complaining about something that shouldn’t be complained about. In recent years, I have for the most part stopped reading Slashdot or as I have come to call it, “The Domain of the Hypocrites“. It is of course good for seeing some good old fashioned unsubstantiated Microsoft bashing. For example, today an article was posted detailing the new Microsoft Conspiracy to Undermine Google by disallowing Image Searching. Firstly, I honestly wonder what Microsoft would possibly gain from such a move and second, I wonder why the Slashdot moderators, with all the other better news stories out there decided to post this. For one thing, its not even true. Load up IE7 head to Google Image Search (http://images.google.com) and do a search, you’ll find nothing wrong whatsoever with this page, despite the claim that it is supposedly label a Suspicious website.
This is likely a better result then you would get with FireFox whose Anti-Phising has been described as sketchy at best. However, its likely best not to say that cause for all their teasing and ridicule of Microsoft fan boys, FireFox likely has some of the biggest hypocrites on their side. I remember, reading this post on OSNews.com (this is a link to Slashdot’s version: IE7 Vulnerability Discovered). Of course, everyone was jeering and laughing at this because Microsoft was already being bitten by the security flaw bug. However, as those of us who don’t immediately jump the gun expected, the problem was not with IE7 but with a different component (Outlook Express) as Microsoft explains here. While this attack users IE as a vector, it does not effect IE at all and as such is hardly a critical flaw. And if you want to talk about critical flaws compare the numbers of flaws per month between FF and IE – here
Now, I want to say that I am a loyal FireFox user and have always been, and always will be. But I don’t IE (or Windows) bash, except for things that I know can be compared and are established facts. For example, numerous blog posts have been made about the recent accomplishment is circumventing Microsoft PatchGurad in the Vista 64bit OS. I tend to wait on this to see how it affects the OS’ security, rather then jump on the bandwagon and taunt and make fun of Microsoft. While I am a FireFox user, I by no means think its perfect, in fact, I remember getting upset at one point when it seemed I was getting new updates for the browser everyday. Maybe its because I use IE so rarely that don’t notice the patch updates, but the number do seem write in the article I quoted above.
I get tired of hearing it, all this Microsoft bashing. I have to constantly remind people of the basic fact that A) Windows users are not Linux users. B) Microsoft has to support a much wider variety of configurations then Linux, as well as contend with idiocy that comes with. C) The Microsoft code base is much older then Linux and is more susceptible to attack. Linux had the advantage of learning from Microsoft’s mistakes as well as not being anywhere near as large a target. This could be partially blamed on some of the decisions Microsoft has made which have given programmers and developers a negative perception of the company (see my rants about IE7).
So lets understand something, Windows users are, on the whole, generally not as computer inclined as Linux users. This comes with the territory. Linux has only very recently begun to understand that to compete successfully with Windows, they must dumb down their OS and automate a lot of tools and provide a GUI. Ever wonder why KDE and Gnome look so similar out of the box to Windows, that may be an indication.
I actually had the privilege of having a member of the Avalon team come to Grand Valley and speak to the Computer Science students. One of the questions asked to him was why Windows has so many problems. He stated that Microsoft lays down guidelines and standards for programmers to follow, when installing, executing, and uninstalling software. However, Microsoft has no real way of enforcing these guidelines, and thus developers openly omit them. As a result, the registry becomes messy, or programs don’t execute as the OS expects them too, leading to problems. Over 90% of all XP crashes are the result of drivers not following this standard. I have noticed this too, the only time XP has ever crashed on me was when I used old Creative drivers for my web cam. But I am deviating from the topic of this article.
While the 0 day vulnerability for IE made headline news in the computer world, not surprisingly the 0 Day Flaw for FireFox 2 did not. You can read about it here. It was not surprising that Slashdot in particular did not report this. Slashdot users are extremely defensive about any criticism thrown at FireFox. Examine this post to Slashdot where the author identifies 9 things he didn’t like about FireFox 2 (though it ended up being 10 with the inclusion the Zero Day Flaw) and is subsequently blown out of the water by the majority of users. And the thing is, rather then agree and ridicule as what happens with IE, FireFox users play it off and regard it as a feature or a bug “you only see once in a while”. These same users will then turn around and blast IE for having the exact same problems.
I cant say don’t criticize cause their is legitimate room for criticism for both browsers. In fact, MANY that I have talked to are unhappy with FireFox 2 because it doesn’t deserve to be called version 2, rather 1.6 most feel. And the same problems from previous versions still exist: huge memory consumption and random arbitrary crashes (which one Slashdot users said “Freezes: yes, they occur. But hello, restore session. I don’t say it’s no problem, I’m saying it’s no reason not to switch.”. I will say I have heard less stupider things said, but not much. Also, when writing this article, I did a lot of searching and opened up about 12 tabs in FireFox and it crammed them all together, I saw no evidence of this tab scrolling I hear about, maybe I have it turned off, but IE does a good job handling a lot of tabs due to its thumbnail mode.
Are their bugs in IE? Yes, of course. Are their bugs in FireFox? Yes. Are their bugs in software? If its over 100 lines, yes, since it was proved in 1970 Mathematically that the longest program a person could write was 100 lines, done in Algo68 FTW. The thing people need to understand is that in ANY complex software product, your going to have bugs. It is certainly true that IE has more bugs discovered because of its higher profile. Any sane person can see a rise in the number of bugs with a rise in popularity. If you still cant see that, your just fooling yourself. As Linux gains popularity, more bugs will be found. I have ever confidence that Linux will end up being no more secure then Windows, yes you can argue about various features in Linux, and I wont listen to a damn thing. Every argument I have ever had about security, their is always some facet of customization to Linux that makes it more secure. People seem to ignore that just about every security study done concludes that neither is more secure then the other.
And, in truth, it doesn’t even matter. We still have people dumb enough to down virus.exe because they think its a patch. We still have Grandma and Grandpa who fork out their CC and Expiration date because they think they can win a $1,000,000. An OS and its programs can only do such much to protect the user from themselves. The least the tech community can do is be more constructive in their criticism and not simply to “jump the bandwagon” when an idea or notion is popular.
And now, one final url: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=352&tag=nl.e539