Smile For The Cameras (11/5/03)

You really have to hand it to Microsoft sometimes; it's actually very innovative, as long as you're talking about finance and PR instead of technology. Consider its latest solution to the virus problem plaguing the Windows world: instead of incurring the short- and long-term costs involved with writing mostly-secure software in the first place, it's decided that it would be much less disruptive to its existing business practices and far more cost-effective to throw some money at the cops, tell 'em to go do their jobs, and do it all at a press conference while posing for pictures with the FBI, the Secret Service, and Interpol so people think the company is actually doing something.

See, as faithful viewer Jason Nieckar pointed out, CNET reports that Microsoft has launched the Anti-Virus Reward Program by tossing a $5 million fund at international law enforcement agencies and posting a $250,000 bounty for information leading to the arrest, conviction, and subsequent execution of the rapscallions who unleashed the Blaster and SoBig viruses that ran roughshod over Windows networks earlier this year. (Need some walking-around money? Consider the exciting and rewarding life of a Cyber-Criminal Bounty Hunter! You get to pretend to be Boba Fett and make money while doing it!)

A quarter of a million dollars for fingering the SoBig and Blaster perps? Considering that experts estimate the damages from each of those viruses to be in the billions of dollars, does anyone else feel that Microsoft is, well, cheaping out? $250,000 is probably roughly what the company spends on Twizzlers for the candy dishes in the break rooms every month. Even that $5 million total that Microsoft is turning over to law enforcement to fund the crackdown on virus writers probably doesn't even come close to the company's budget for routine weekly soul removal treatments for its staff.

But there's another reason why Microsoft's reward program is unseemly: arguably the most important ingredient in any of the big viruses is the Microsoft security hole it exploits to get down and funky in the first place-- and Microsoft's responsibility for Blaster is even more apparent, since that particular worm only existed to illustrate and protest the very Swiss cheese security that made its spread possible. (Blaster's code contains this message: "Billy Gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software.") So, as faithful viewer Ryan Hoy suggests, does that mean we can turn in Microsoft's own programmers and score up to half a mil? Ka-ching!!

Seriously, leave it to the folks in Redmond to spread around a little pocket change as the El Cheapo alternative to actually producing secure software in the first place. Especially since the media coverage is terrific PR-- gullible rubes the world over might actually get the impression that Microsoft is fighting viruses, and not just buying some cheap approval while making those viruses possible in the first place. Is anyone else flashing back to OJ devoting the rest of his life to finding the real killer?

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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 11/5/03 episode:

November 5, 2003: Sony comes after the iPod with a bloodlust heretofore unseen outside of a Beastmaster movie. Meanwhile, nearly all of the Democratic candidates for President eschew Macs for Windows, and Microsoft's latest strategy is to offer cash rewards for people who turn in virus-writers to the authorities-- and the joke is that we're not kidding...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4313: Somebody Fetch Us A Mop (11/5/03)   Sales figures and statistics are one thing, but if you ask us, the real proof that the iPod is the King of the Portable Music Hill is the simple fact that whenever someone spews a new player onto the market, the press immediately starts evaluating whether or not it's an "iPod-killer."...

  • 4314: Vote Jobs-Schiller In 2004 (11/5/03)   By the way, Happy Guy Fawkes Day! Yes, it's the fifth of November, the anniversary of Fawkes's infamous plot to blow up Parliament and the King way back in 1605; to this day, English-types commemorate the occasion by shooting off fireworks and burning Fawkes in effigy on top of huge bonfires...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

Vote Early, Vote Often!
Why did you tune in to this '90s relic of a soap opera?
Nostalgia is the next best thing to feeling alive
My name is Rip Van Winkle and I just woke up; what did I miss?
I'm trying to pretend the last 20 years never happened
I mean, if it worked for Friends, why not?
I came here looking for a receptacle in which to place the cremated remains of my deceased Java applets (think about it)

(1250 votes)

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