Microsoft Makes a Good Argument for Open Source

Monday, 7 April 2003, 10:14 AM EST

Sometimes Microsoft makes it all too easy to argue that people should be moving away from its products.

Take the recent decision by the folks in Redmond not to issue a patch for Windows NT 4.0 systems that are vulnerable to a denial-of-service (DoS) attack. According to Microsoft, Windows NT has "architectural limitations" that "do not support the changes that would be required to remove this vulnerability."

Some mistook Microsoft's "admission" that it could not generate a workable patch as candor. It is a rare thing for Microsoft to display humility of any kind, and when it does, it can usually be attributed to a desire to hide something else.

When Microsoft's Jim Allchin claimed to the court that allowing access to the Windows source code would be a huge national security risk, it was a carefully scripted "admission" aimed at Microsoft's primary goal -- to deny competitors equal footing when developing products for Windows. That fact is borne out by Microsoft's actions to provide Windows source code to countries like China not more than a year after Allchin took the stand.

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