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Ray Ozzie  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft is losing a key exec

In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the company's chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, is stepping down from his post. Ozzie took over the role as chief software architect from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Ozzie has played a huge role in the development and deployment of Microsoft's Azure cloud-based computing efforts and has long been a pivotal force in the development of Windows-based operating systems.

Here is section of Steve Ballmer's email to all Microsoft employees announcing the departure:

With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray’s intention to step down from his role as chief software architect. He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organization - bringing the great innovations and great innovators he’s assembled into the groups driving our business. Following the natural transition time with his teams but before he retires from Microsoft, Ray will be focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment where Microsoft has many ongoing investments. We have tremendous opportunities in the entertainment space overall, and I’m excited about what we can accomplish. Beyond that, Ray has no plans at this time. While he’ll continue to report to me during the transition, the CSA role was unique and I won’t refill the role after Ray’s departure. We have a strong planning process, strong technical leaders in each business group and strong innovation heading to the market.

While Ray will be onboard for a while, I’d like to thank him today for his contributions to Microsoft, both as a leader and as a long-time Microsoft ISV. As an early ISV, Ray contributed significantly to the early success of Windows. Since being at Microsoft, both through inspiration and impact he’s been instrumental in our transition toward a software world now centered on services. He’s always been a ‘maker’ and a partner, and we look forward to our continuing collaboration as his future unfolds. Ray has played a critical role in helping us to assume the leadership position in the cloud, and positioned us well for future success.

Ballmer's email doesn't give an exact reason why Ozzie is leaving, but one can only hope that his talent is picked up by another high-tech firm. Companies that specialize in cloud computing would probabaly kill to have Ozzie onboard.

Ozzie has even had nice things to say about Google's efforts in cloud computing. "On the Android-versus-Chrome issue, Android is a bet on the past; Chrome is a bet on the future," said Ozzie back in June. "When you install an app, you’re targeting a device. When you use Chrome, you’re looking at a cloud-based future."



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RE: The future is ...
By goodsyntax on 10/19/2010 3:04:17 PM , Rating: 3
And if you were a virus writer, you'd be writing viruses that target an OS like Linux with less than 1% market share, right?

The grey and black digital economies both recognize that Windows runs on 95% of all the desktops and servers in the world. From things as mundane as your grandmothers computer that is used primarily for email to the international banks financial data warehouses and nuclear power management systems, the one commonality is Microsoft Windows.

Get off your high horse and look at the facts. If you wanted to profit from the attacks you mentioned, you would target the largest installation base, which is Windows, NOT OSX, Linux, OS2 or any other system.


RE: The future is ...
By drycrust3 on 10/19/2010 5:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
While you are correct in that about 90% of the computers that use the internet use Windows, only around 30% of those computers are actually supported for security updates, the other 60% or so are not supported for security updates, which means the users of those computers rely on 3rd party software (antivirus software) to protect them. It was recently discovered that at least one major botnet is not detectable by most antivirus software. So most 3rd party support for Windows XP et al is inadequate in terms of security. Is that Microsoft's fault? I think a lot of it is.
While you are correct in that Virus writers target Windows, they do so because of the ease of getting a result, not because it is most popular. Notice that: they don't attack a "mountain because it is there", they attack a "mountain that has a car park with an easy path to an elevator that goes straight to the top".
Look at the trojan that attacks nuclear power stations, that is believed to have been written by employees of an unknown government. The number of Windows based computers that access the internet from nuclear powerstations is minute compared to the rest of in the world. So why did someone write it? Because they wanted a result (attack Iran's nuclear powerstations - but they lost control of it), not because they wanted to attack Windows.
The same logic applies to writing viruses that attack Linux: if it was easy to get a result then people would write viruses that attack it, regardless of their share of use on the internet. There are viruses that attack Macs. With about 6% or so share, why? Because the writers can get a result! It isn't easy to write Viruses for Linux, so people don't bother.


RE: The future is ...
By goodsyntax on 10/20/2010 8:24:04 AM , Rating: 2
Is it truly anyones fault other than the user if they are using a deprecated OS, that is completely unpatched, has no anti-virus or anti-malware tools, and is either sitting directly on the internet or behind a simple router that is configured exactly as it was when it left the factory? True, Microsoft paid very little attention to security with XP, at least until SP2 was released, but what can they do to save users from themselves? They are about as close to a Windows Managed OS as they can realistically be with automatic updates, Security Essentials, Defender, etc., but users actually have to install some of these components, and obviously that is asking too much.

Virus writers who are looking to profit look at scale, not ease. Notice that since Windows security has improved, the attack vector has changed. Adobe Acrobat is now the victim of an ever increasing volume of attacks. Adobe products are high value because the same attack can compromise Windows, OSX and Linux OSes. It's not about how easy it is, it is about what the potential value could be. I could write an Operating System tomorrow and I guarantee that it will be virus free, not because I am a rockstar programmer, but because the install base would be about 6.

As for the Stuxnet worm, it appears to be highly researched, and targeted. I suspect that if the bulk of the control systems were Linux, Unix or OSX, the worm would find a way through any one of them. Ultimately, you cannot stop someone who is determined to break through the figurative gate. And in this case, it appears that this specific system was targeted, not because of Windows, but because the power plants themselves were the target.

The Stuxnet attack is fascinating because it comprised a social hack (getting a specific population infected who ultimately would bring it into a secured network), targeted industrial infrastructure, was the first PLC (programmable logic controller) rootkit ever to be identified, targeted specific, proprietary systems (Siemens WinCC Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition system), utilized stolen certifying authority certificates, utilized four, previously unknown zero day attacks and is reconfigurable via private P2P networks. Amazing stuff!

If you think that the OS is the reason for the attack, you are being dishonest with yourself.


RE: The future is ...
By drycrust3 on 10/20/2010 12:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Is it truly anyones fault other than the user if they are using a deprecated OS, that is completely unpatched, has no anti-virus or anti-malware tools, and is either sitting directly on the internet or behind a simple router that is configured exactly as it was when it left the factory?

I agree with a lot of what you have said, but I thought this summed it up well. To me the answer is "No, it is the only the user's fault" because there are free options (e.g. download and use a Linux distribution) that they should utilise that will enable them to avoid having malware on their computers. However, when Microsoft are running adverts against using OpenOffice suite, and they don't provide Linux compatible versions of their premier software, it is apparent they would prefer to have lots of users using running obsolete insecure Microsoft OSes than to update to something secure, even if it is a competitors product.
What could Microsoft have done? They could have designed XP better because it was known there were security issues with the Windows platform before it was released, which is why I blamed Ozzie. It was also known there were security issues with Internet Explorer at that time as well, and again, I point the finger at Ozzie.

Ignoring the history in between because of time, Microsoft recently released Windows 7, which has much better security than any previous released version, although whether it is secure enough or not I can't tell since I don't use it and haven't time to research it.
The only trouble is you need a much higher spec computer to run W7. While I don't have a problem with that, what is interesting is that because they excluded the XP spec computers (300 MHz, 128 MB ram), they also excluded themselves from having an operating system that they could have quickly rejigged for the tablet environment (iPad = 1 GHz 256 MB ram).
Recently Microsoft said some of their Linux computers had been compromised through human error, but they didn't identify what version of Linux distribution it was, which made me wonder if they had their own version of Linux.
Getting back to Windows, if they had provided a Windows 7 version that suited the XP type spec computers and users could have updated to, they would have quickly been able to respond to the tablet type PC. I realise I know nothing about W7 and maybe that is just a dream to think that, but I don't see why it is. Again, the finger is pointed at Ozzie.
Lastly, because of failings from lazy users and Microsoft, we now a huge industry that is intent on stealing via computers, and have governments around the world wanting to restrict freedom of speech and are increasingly looking at reducing privacy because of these. If the security problems had been addressed early on by Microsoft, that huge industry would not exist. While not totally Ozzie's fault, he certainly can't escape some of the blame for it.


RE: The future is ...
By goodsyntax on 10/21/2010 8:45:52 AM , Rating: 3
How is it Microsoft's fault if someone who uses Windows XP with no patches, service packs, anti-virus or properly configured firewalls gets compromised?

Another analogy would be to blame Ford because a car owner has driven his/her car for 100K miles, never changed the oil, nor performed any maintenance and wonders why the engine seized, the rims are warped because the tires blew out 60K miles ago, the car can't stop because both the pads and rotors are destroyed, and they keep hitting other cars on the road every time they need to go to the store.

Maintenance is an integral part of any system, software, mechanical or biological. To ignore the maintenance aspect is pure negligence on the part of the user/owner.

Maybe ISPs should start implementing Network Access Protection, which would prevent this whole mess in the first place. Only users with up-to-date operating systems and software with current virus definitions, etc., can access the internet. Others who do not meet this requirement would be redirected to an ISP portal that provides the updates and offers downloads of AVG, Avast or any of the other free anti-virus packages available. Most ISPs even offer a free subscription to McAfee or Symantec as long as your account is in good standing.

You do have a point about the base hardware requirements for Windows 7 (and Vista, but we're just going to pretend that OS never existed). A lot of what Microsoft does in regards to hardware requirements is a double-edged sword. Yes, the average Joe may need to purchase new hardware in 3-5 year cycles in order to support the newest OS releases, but for the past two decades, Microsoft has been the biggest driver of the hardware markets. In large part, many of the advances and, more importantly, profitability of hardware manufacturers are due to the predictable refresh cycles from Microsoft.

As for tablets, I personally think that it is a fad. As ARM produces better CPUs for the low power market and manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Motorola and LG produce better, more capable smartphones, there is little that tablets can do that a smart phone cannot. Having played with an iPad, I feel it is too small and underpowered to be useful (at least for the things that I do) and too big to be pocketable and transportable. Give me a smart phone with HDMI and integrated pico-projector, a fold up bluetooth keyboard and mouse and I'll gladly trade it in for a tablet. Something that supports VPN and RDP/ICA protocols, so I can remote into my home servers, is all I would really need.

The problem with Linux these days is fragmentation. There are literally hundreds of distros, variants, spin-offs, etc. with differing levels of support. I know it runs contrary to the open source tenants, but I do think that some refocusing is in order. Linux has missed their biggest opportunity to get mainstream acceptance during the Vista debacle and the initial Netbook/Nettop/Tablet fad. Asus and other manufacturers initially offered some kind of Linux variant, but users were frustrated by the lack of software, confusing interface and decidedly un-Windows like environment. Maybe if Ubuntu (Hardy Heron) were the distro that was selected, things would have been different. It wasn't until Microsoft extended support and offered licensing of XP to this market that it really took off. At this point, with IOS, Android and possibly challenges from WebOS and Windows, I think the Linux ship has sailed. It's unfortunate and indicative of the lack of a central group managing, marketing and driving mainstream Linux adoption.

Finally, the black markets go to where the opportunities are. Whether it's impostor drugs, software piracy or identity theft, sleazes and criminals gather anywhere there is opportunity to make easy money. And governments are seeing this activity as an opportunity for a power grab. It has absolutely nothing to do with YOUR protection, rather it has EVERYTHING to do with increasing THEIR power, reach and authority.


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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