Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Vista, Antivirus, & Jim Allchin

UPDATE: Jim has responded to the hubub himself. Hey Jim, isn't having a blog great?

Mary Jo is dead on the money about the reports regarding Jim's antivirus claim in Wednesday's phone conference. Scott's article was completely irresponsible, and he should have done more investigative work before posting it. That kind of reporting is completely uncharacteristic from BetaNews, which is one of the most reputable fact-based reporting sites I know.

The first time I heard it was during my interview, when he discussed it at length in a discussion that was centered around security/PatchGuard/Symantec. That type of statement was perfectly OK for my audience... most of whom are pretty well-educated on Vista's security approach.

But 75% of the people that were in on the call have never seen nor touched Vista. They don't know about ASLR, UAC, Parental Controls, and the numerous other features that can turn a Vista computer into a kid-friendly "games and internet" appliance.

Jim should never have made that statement to the audience he was in front of. He oversimplified the discussion to a point where reporters just didn't get it, and were only going to repeat what he said. They just knew that there was news and they had to report it. Parroting what someone says does not require a great deal of comprehension skills, and the comment was inappropriate for that call.

Having said that, just because the guy that manages the construction of Windows doesn't fell that his computer needs an anti-virus solution, doesn't mean the 97% of the rest of the population doesn't, either. Anti-virus is designed to save computer users from their own lack of experience. Most people don't care to educate themselves about the dangers of the internet, how to tell if an e-mail is dangerous, etc. Any guy who thinks someone random is going to e-mail naked pictures of some celebrity that don't have as many diseases as the person in the picture obviously has too much blood being diverted to places other than his brain.

But Jim's not the only one that doesn't run antivirus on Vista. I don't, either. Why? Because I'm my own active internet protection. I'm careful about what I download, and I'm careful about what I open. And I've rarely had a problem. The one time I can remember where I did have a problem, opened something I knew I shouldn't have.

I've done it since before Vista... except for a bout of OneCare beta testing, I haven't run anything since XPSP1, and the advancements in Vista make me feel that much more confident that I don't need to bog down my computer with something that my own brain can handle.

Does that mean I'm advocating that to the world? Hell no, and Jim wasn't either. I sell copies of OneCare for every system I repair. Everyone in my family is running it. And they will continue to run it after they upgrade to Vista. Everyone else should be running an antivirus solution to protect themselves from themselves. But Jim's family doesn't have to... and that's ok.



  • List244 said:

    I agree with you here. I have used XP for quite some time, I never have trouble with virus' and other such malware. My computer does great. I have run a few virus-scans of course through-out time, but it has never been a huge issue. I have never had my computer harmed in the way I hear so often. Because of this, I also run no anti-virus on Vista. I also have no plans in the future to use one. I feel with the security features added, I am safer than ever, and I never had problems before...

    November 10, 2006 7:59 PM
  • Klimax said:

    Those security features can help you feel safer,but to me they will be too much restricting.I do not need Patchguard,I do not need signed drivers;what is in x86 XP is enough.And then I would like to break some TPM and DRM,so protection can be even against me...(not a single thing is safe near me and single back-up of anything is not enough!) and AVG is good,so no problem encountered.

    November 11, 2006 3:49 AM
  • Kevin Murphy said:

    Come on Robert, there was nothing irresponsible about that BetaNews article. The headline was potentially misleading, but only if you don't read the story.

    The first paragraph of his story is:

    "During a telephone conference with reporters yesterday, outgoing Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin, while touting the new security features of Windows Vista, which was released to manufacturing yesterday, told a reporter that the system's new lockdown features are so capable and thorough that he was comfortable with his own seven-year-old son using Vista without antivirus software installed."

    Statement of fact. Not irresponsible in the slightest.

    November 11, 2006 4:22 AM
  • Ed Oswald said:

    Robert, very unfair.

    In defense of Scott, I must say that you are attempting to make hay out of something that is not even there. Our headline even of itself only said "suggests," not "says." As Kevin points out, the first paragraph quotes Jim as what he said, and he said it. Now he's not comfortable with how he put it, and backtracks. Doesn't make Scott irresponsible.

    For the sake of argument here, I'd say for the record that Jim saying something like that in front of the media was irresponsible in and of itself.

    November 14, 2006 10:24 AM
  • Ljuvefreya said:

    I'd just like to remind people most respectfully that there's nothing really evil with signed drivers. According to Mark of the SysInternals team, bad drivers are responsible for over 80% of all bluescreens in the field.

    Another interesting thing: I run AOL AIM 6 on my Vista because friends I care about use that and are familiar with it even though I vastly prefer MSN or Yahoo or even Google Talk. What really was interesting to me is that on certain ads, AIM asks to elevate to admin... How's that for spooky?

    November 19, 2006 4:33 AM
  • Graham Fluet said:

    I've got one of the best of two AV systems: Mac os X (the other is Linux).

    January 10, 2007 6:34 PM