Microsoft Looking for More Control Over Your Computer

The Blaster Worm apparently woke Microsoft up. Though it didn't wreak the havoc of some past worms, this one's sole purpose was to attack Microsoft. Specifically, it caused Microsoft to move their Windows Update site to another location. In the hopes of preventing such future incidents, Microsoft may start installing Windows updates automatically on your computer.

This Washington Post article will no doubt be the first of many addressing the switch in thinking over at Microsoft. Traditionally, they've avoided automatic updates for fear of customer backlash. Both privacy and technology concerns loom large. Privacy advocates fear giving complete control of one's personal computer over to any corporation.

From a technology standpoint, allowing anyone full control over a system -- much less the majority of the systems in the world --is a potential security vulnerability in and of itself. Additionally, many Windows updates are known to break third party software or even introduce hardware incompatibilities which render the system useless.

Nevertheless, Blaster proved to Microsoft what many already knew: people simply don't update their systems. The patch for Blaster had been out for weeks. And it's not just home owners and small businesses. The patch for the Slammer Worm, which affected SQL Server installations, had been out for half a year. Where were the system administrators of those servers?

In the end, this may be a case of the lesser of two evils. If the occasional home owner or small business computer gets wiped out because of Windows update, well, that's a risk Microsoft is probably willing to take. After all, they assume no responsibility or liability, and you agree to waive all rights before you even get to see the End User License Agreement -- but that's another story.

As for privacy, there's enough concerned netizens, watch dog organizations, and corporate competitors watching Microsoft with close eyes that privacy will probably turn out to be a non-issue. This isn't to say that they won't violate an end user's privacy, just that the first time they do it, Microsoft will be back peddling on CNN.


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