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Bad news for Microsoft, good news from Microsoft

Feb 25, 20043 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* Microsoft makes good on promise to hand out CD-ROMs with cumulative patches

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for Microsoft, has it? As we reported in the last issue, parts of the Windows NT and Windows 2000 source code were released (by person or persons unknown) onto the Internet. And in the newsletter before that, we discussed what could be the biggest Windows security flaw ever to be discovered: the “ASN.1” problem.

There were also reports that the European Union was rejecting settlement offers from Redmond to end their long-running antitrust case. Venture capitalist Tim Oren ( reported in his blog that Microsoft had sent out a letter inviting investors to a seminar on open source with the not-so-subtle argument that “some acquirers view open source as being no different than fraud on the books.” (Maybe SCO’s Darl MacBride has branched out to do freelance marketing.)

Still, there was one bright shining light, although even that was a tad tarnished.

In a good example of turning lemons into lemonade, Microsoft made a big publicity splash in Japan last fall by handing out CD-ROMs with cumulative Windows patches and bug fixes. It was so successful that Microsoft planned to offer a similar CD worldwide. That has now been released, at least for some languages (English and Traditional Chinese as of last week) with the rest of the localized support (in all languages that Windows has been ported to) to dribble out over the next month or two.

There’ll be no charge for obtaining the CD because Microsoft took our advice ( to underwrite the cost by putting demo and evaluation software on the CD. In this case its anti-virus and firewall trial software, which seems very appropriate for a distribution of fixes for security and virus problems.

Still, every silver lining has a cloud attached, and I did say that there was some tarnish on this offer. It seems that the fixes and patches on the CD are only those available through last October. Anything released in November, December, January and February – including the super-critical ASN.1 patch – will still require users download it from a Microsoft Web site. Also, as far as I can tell, this CD is still intended as a one-time-only release.

Still, releasing the CD at all shows that Microsoft is quite capable of Doing the Right Thing from time to time. If it did it more often, it might even get it right. Practice does make perfect.

You can order your copy of the CD from: