Nice When They Admit It (2/27/04)

Hey, it's Friday once again, and you all know what that means: it's Wildly Off-Topic Microsoft-Bashing Day! We actually had to hang onto today's little gem for a while in order to save it for the weekend, which would gravely compromise our journalistic integrity if, you know, we actually had any. That's not to say we didn't suffer for our art, however. Putting something aside for a couple of days and actually remembering to come back to it puts a pretty serious strain on our delicate frontal lobes, but hey, you know us; we're nothing if not slaves to tradition.

Surprisingly, while today's tidbit does concern Microsoft's security (or gross lack thereof), it doesn't involve the latest hole to be discovered or worm to wreak twelve kinds of havoc on the civilized world. Instead, we're following the Redmond Gang on a trip down Memory Lane. Faithful viewer Jerry Luttrell tipped us off to an InfoWorld which reported a few days ago that David Aucsmith, Security Architect and Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft's Security Business Unit (nice job title; his business cards must have a fold-out panel) flat out admitted that "Windows 95 was written without a single security feature."

We can practically hear your gasp of utter shock from here. Are you okay? Do you want to lie down for a while?

Oh, but it only gets better: not only was Windows 95 (whose codebase formed the backbone of all of Microsoft's consumer operating systems until the release of Windows XP) cobbled together with absolute no security whatsoever, but Aucsmith also tries to excuse that fact by insisting that "many of the current security issues could not have been foreseen." Current security issues? Like, oh, let's say... viruses? Because viruses certainly didn't exist in 1995, no siree. (BBC News gives a nice history lesson that shows just how wrong Aucsmith's statement is.)

And then, of course, there's the coup de grâce. After admitting that Windows 95 had zero security and that the security in Windows NT is lacking because it was "written before the Internet" and that even Windows Server 2003's security was slapped together "before buffer overflows became a frequent target," and after spooking the audience by telling them that all their businesses "face increasing threats from cyber criminals attempting extortion and fraud," Aucsmith offers a simple solution: "If you want more secure software, upgrade."

Hey, David-- what was that part about businesses facing threats from cyber criminals attempting extortion, again?

Remember, folks, you're watching AtAT: where overt and unprovoked Microsoft-bashing is never really off-topic!

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The above scene was taken from the 2/27/04 episode:

February 27, 2004: The press digs up more details about the $249 "lucky bags" that will be sold at tomorrow's Apple Store San Francisco grand opening. Meanwhile, investment funds are lining up to vote against Eisner at next week's Disney investors' meeting, and Microsoft admits that Windows 95 was built with no security whatsoever-- whoops!...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4535: Bukuro: "Same To You!" (2/27/04)   We're now only hours away from the grand opening of the Apple Store San Francisco-- can't you just taste the excitement? If not, you can probably at least smell it, especially if you're already in line downwind from that guy who's been waiting since Tuesday and chained himself to the store's front door to preserve his first-in-line spot without really thinking through the whole "lack of showers and toilets" thing beforehand...

  • 4536: Eisner's Clock Is Ticking (2/27/04)   Folks, we need to clarify a little something about the state of the ongoing Disney-Pixar saga, here: nobody's getting voted off the island at the investors' meeting on Wednesday. A lot of people seem to think that there's a chance that Michael Eisner and his cronies will get booted by a flood of "Good God, No" votes by appalled shareholders marshaled by Roy Disney and Stan Gold, but unfortunately (as reported by Reuters), "the 11-member Disney board is guaranteed to be reelected at the March 3 meeting since there are no rival candidates."...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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