Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mal-Ware Stats

Microsoft recently published statistics from its free Malicious Software Removal tool.  62% of those computers contained malicious Trojans or bots, much ado is being made of this fact – yet it ignores the fundamental flaw in the statistics.

The users of this tool are self-selected, users – especially those that know enough to run tools like this – won’t run them unless they suspect something is wrong.  This doesn’t prove that the statistics are too high, it merely says that they numbers aren’t a reliable measurement of what is really going on.

What is entertaining about the ensuing debate is the complaint that Microsoft decided to release this data to coincide of its announcement of OneCare products.  Complainers are arguing that Microsoft should be providing these tools for free to users of Microsoft products.  That it should be part of the basic OS.  But isn’t this the exact approach that these same critics have used to levy anti-trust lawsuits against Microsoft?

So, offering free add-ons to Windows is anti-competitive unless it is a feature that I want – then its anti-competitive to not include it.  You just can’t win when the basic assumption is that everything you do is evil.

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