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Want to know the benefits of moving away from Win9x?

Jan 22, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoftSecurity

* How best to upgrade your desktop OS for better security

Security is a topic that, in one form or another, seems to come up in three or four different Network World newsletters a month. Whether its Microsoft’s new enthusiasm for security or the latest discovery of a security vulnerability, it’s rare for a day to go by without some discussion that involves both of the words “Microsoft” and “security.” This issue of the Windows Networking newsletter is no exception.

Desktop security is something that we pay lip service to, but for the most part we delegate to others if we do anything. Server security, as well as network infrastructure security, takes up so much of our time that little is left to devote to the desktop operating system that’s on our users’ desktops. That may be why security issues still arise, though. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the chain that is your network might contain weak links in the form of the operating system running on your users’ desktops.

Microsoft can help (and perhaps profit by so doing) by pointing out to you the benefits of moving away from Win9x technology on desktops to the much better NT-derived technology of Windows XP Professional. Now I am on record as saying that Windows 2000 Professional is the right operating system for your enterprise desktops. But if you’re running Windows 9x/ME then XP Pro is a big step up.

Differentiated by the size of your enterprise, there are three education areas on Microsoft’s Web site that discuss the security benefits of upgrading your Win9x/ME desktops to XP Professional:

*For those with 50 or fewer computers, there is “Desktop Security for Your Small Business” (

*If you have 50 or more computers, but fewer than 500, then the mid-sized site “Move Your Business Forward” ( is for you.

*Finally, for those with more than 500 computers, there’s “Premium Desktop Protection. Maximum Peace of Mind” (

What’s the difference? The small business site is more elementary in its approach, spelling out all of the acronyms and patiently detailing in side-by-side comparison charts what XP provides that 9x doesn’t (for the Windows operating system and Office, I might add). The enterprise site, on the other hand, is much more technical in its approach with fewer charts and graphs and more detailed white papers.

The information presented is pretty much the same on all three sites but varies on the approach and amount of detail. The first time you look at the enterprise site the sheer amount of material can be daunting. So even if you have 1,000 computers, start off with the small business site. Look at the charts and graphs then follow up at the enterprise site if you need more detail. If you have Win9x/ME desktops and the small business site doesn’t convince you that you need to upgrade then please visit the other two sites, And keep revisiting until you’re convinced that the upgrade is necessary. Because it is. And you can tell your boss that I told you so.

Check out Network World’s security-related newsletters that often feature Microsoft security woes:

Security and Bug Patch Alert Newsletter

Security Newsletter