Microsoft and the Mac
 
Microsoft made an interesting, non-security Mac announcement yesterday, and is making an interesting security non-Mac announcement today.
 
Microsoft’s Mac announcement was a keyboard and mouse specifically for Mac users. Although keyboards and mice are pretty darn boring, Microsoft’s interest in the Mac keyboard/mouse market is interesting. Why are they interested in such a seemingly small (at least for them) market? It must have something to do with their long term plans for world domination, but it’s not clear what. Anyway, since this is not a keyboard/mouse or Microsoft blog, we won’t speculate any further.
 
This is, however, a security blog, so Microsoft’s “OneCare” announcement today is probably more relevant. Windows Live OneCare is being billed by Microsoft as “The All-in-One Protection and Maintenance Service Your Windows XP PC.” For $50 per year, OneCare subscribers get anti-virus and anti-spyware software, a personal firewall, ongoing performance tune-ups and data backup and restore services (except for the tune-ups, all key elements of any good security system, Mac or Windows). There are currently more questions than answers about these services, for instance how the firewall in OneCare is different from Windows XP’s built-in firewall (Microsoft says it’s a “managed two-way firewall”) and how the OneCare service competes with current Windows security vendors like Symantec.
 
The main reason the OneCare announcement is interesting to Mac users is that it shows how serious Microsoft has gotten about security. They realize it’s a giant deal from a financial perspective, in both a negative and positive sense. With OneCare, not only can they continue to show they’re serious about fixing their security mistakes of the past (and related ongoing customer defections) but also that they can, at least partially, turn security into an ongoing business opportunity. It will also be interesting to see how successful OneCare is, and how buggy. There’s little doubt, for instance, that hackers will actually target the OneCare system itself in an attempt to give Microsoft a (another) black eye. Definitely worth watching, even for us Mac users.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006