PBS: Let a Billion Computers Crash

“Why Microsoft’s Success Makes Us Even More Vulnerable to Y2K

“All of our computers are planted with the same software. This
is not software that is functionally the same, but software that is
genetically identical. The data structures and application
programming interfaces (APIs) of Windows or Word or Excel or a
hundred other Microsoft products are absolutely identical on more
than 100 million computers in the U.S. alone. Microsoft’s carefully
crafted upgrade programs have guaranteed that this is the case. And
twice this year, we’ve seen major data security problems caused by
this cloning. Both the Melissa and Explore.zip viruses were
specific to Microsoft software, requiring not only Windows, but
also Microsoft Word. No problemo, since that’s what everyone seems
to be running. The folks at Corel or Lotus can feel very smug about
this — poor, but smug.”

“Microsoft’s incredible commercial success has created a system
that is very fragile — not only because the company has such
market dominance, but also because its APIs nearly all have
extensive undocumented features. That’s why Microsoft software
works better on Windows than does similar software from other
vendors, because Microsoft knows all the little tricks. But viruses
and worms love tricks, too. They prey on undocumented features to
do their dirty work.”