When are security patches a bad thing?

When they’re released by Microsoft, it seems.

I’ve been using Windows for most of my life, after early bouts with a Commodore 64 and an Apple II. I’ve been through Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.

Starting with Windows 98 ( that I remember, anyway ), Microsoft got real big on releasing security patches and updates. And of course with Windows XP it was a very frequent occurrence.

Why is it that Microsoft gets so much bad presses for these security fixes? After all, they’re fixing the problem. Someone found a flaw in their software, and they fixed it. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

The reason I’m asking is because I’ve been thinking about WordPress and it’s development lately. WordPress releases security updates quite frequently, and I always download and install the update as soon as I’m aware that it exists. Most WordPress users are in the same boat – after all, no one wants to use software with known security flaws.

What I don’t hear, though, is bad publicity for WordPress about these updates. When WordPress fixes their flawed software, it’s a good thing. They’re fixing a problem and making their software more secure. But when Microsoft does the exact same thing, it’s terrible. I’d love for someone to explain why the difference in reactions.

21 Comments

  1. Jeremy Steele said

    April 5 2007 @ 6:20 am

    Microsoft’s biggest issue is that its security patches rarely fix known bugs, and in fact there are bugs in their software that have been known for years and years. At least WordPress fixes the darn things.

  2. Adam Ferguson said

    April 5 2007 @ 6:24 am

    I think that aside from the anti-Microsoft stigma that underlies everything technological, it’s a matter of economics.

    Microsoft charges a few hundred dollars for a copy of Windows, so people generally set their expectations of quality very high for it. WordPress, as you know, is completely free, so we’re willing to put up with security flaws and regular updates. Such is the nature of the open source community. You learn to be very forgiving when you realize just how much work is being done for your benefit with absolutely no compensation on your part.

  3. Leroy Brown said

    April 5 2007 @ 7:27 am

    Adam,
    I thought about that point, that Windows costs and WordPress is free, but I don’t buy it. The main reason why is that Windows doesn’t cost the user money directly the vast majority of the time. Sure, there are quite a few people who buy the newest version of Windows and upgrade themselves. But I’d say the majority just use whatever version of Windows comes on their computer. Sure, they’re paying for it indirectly, but they don’t feel the pinch, and they probably don’t even think about it.

    So to most people, Windows is free, just like WordPress.

  4. Adam Ferguson said

    April 5 2007 @ 7:39 am

    With regards to the majority of people, I would agree with you. Most don’t even realize that the cost of Windows is embedded in the price of their computers.

    The question is who is complaining? Is it your standard Dell consumer that probably doesn’t even notice the Windows updates running? I would say it’s the techie people that know what’s going on with their PC and understand the underlying costs and probably stay up (relatively) with the technology.

  5. Jeremy Steele said

    April 5 2007 @ 10:06 am

    It all comes down to two things…

    Microsoft = big company = EVIL!!!!!

    WordPress = open source = can do no wrong.

    That’s the logic of most people who complain about every little thing Microsoft does.

  6. Leroy Brown said

    April 5 2007 @ 12:12 pm

    Adam :
    You do have a good point there.. it’s the tech-savvy people who are doing all the yakking.

    Jeremy : I think you may have hit the nail on the head.

  7. Adam Ferguson said

    April 5 2007 @ 12:17 pm

    I thought the M$=Evil/Open-Source=Good basis was assumed at the core of all arguments.

  8. Leroy Brown said

    April 5 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    You’re right Adam, I should’ve assumed that. MS = the root of all evil ( Sorry John Chow ). I need to start hanging out with Linux folks more so I can catch up on my brainwashing.

  9. Adam Ferguson said

    April 5 2007 @ 1:12 pm

    No problem. Now we’re getting totally off-topic, but whatever. Did you see that Comedy Central is piloting a new round-table discussion show with Lewis Black entitled ‘The Root of All Evil’? (Caught it on Digg) I immediately thought of John…

    P.S. I can fill in with some MS bashing whenever necessary. I’m a Linux folk 🙂

  10. Shawn Knight said

    April 6 2007 @ 12:52 am

    Its simple really, Microsoft is successful and people don’t like successful companies! Easy as that.

    Can go back to the Windows vs Mac OS whatever… sure Windows has a lot more ‘security fixes’… thats because 99% of the ‘hackers’ go after Windows… no software is perfect. If you take all those Windows hackers and point em to a Mac, you’d get the same results, tons of security issues.

    Same with IE vs Firefox, etc etc…

  11. Kyle Eslick said

    April 6 2007 @ 10:33 am

    Great post!

    Like mentioned above, Microsoft is a private and successful company who hordes money, so they are the hated “Yankees” of operating systems. 🙂

    WordPress is open source, so we all really contribute to it, so why complain?!? WordPress is a huge pain to upgrade, however, but nothing can really be done about that.

  12. Leroy Brown said

    April 6 2007 @ 11:21 am

    What’s up Kyle – man I haven’t been by your site in the longest time.

    I don’t think of WordPress as a pain to upgrade – it only takes 3 minutes for me. But then again, I’m on Dreamhost, and they have a WordPress one click install / upgrade, which makes multiple-blog life very easy indeed.

  13. Leroy Brown said

    April 6 2007 @ 12:01 pm

    Adam,
    Off-topic is on-topic here at Green Llama.
    I don’t watch much real-people TV. Mostly cartoons to veg out and let my mind rest.

    D’oh I didn’t know you were a Linux folk – now I have to watch what I say around here so I don’t offend. I know how sensitive you guys can be 😉

  14. Kyle Eslick said

    April 6 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    “What’s up Kyle – man I haven’t been by your site in the longest time.”

    Doh! What did I do to scare you off? 🙂

    Oh, and I love cartoons also! I’ve found that having a 4 year old is a good excuse to watch them!

  15. Leroy Brown said

    April 6 2007 @ 12:42 pm

    Hah not at all – I just never subscribed to your feed for some reason, and I forgot. Now I’m subscribed so it won’t happen again.

    I’ve got an 8 year old at home, so I’m covered to. Kids are great.

  16. Adam Ferguson said

    April 6 2007 @ 2:27 pm

    Haha, don’t worry about offending. I’m not that sensitive. I don’t have any kids, but I still watch cartoons. Spiderman is cooler than real people any day.

  17. Leroy Brown said

    April 6 2007 @ 3:15 pm

    I’m more of Sponge Bob kind of guy. 2 or 3 hours of Sponge Bob and there is absolutely nothing going on between my ears. Feels kinda nice for a change.

  18. Jeremy Steele said

    April 6 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    I used to watch sponge bob years back, but then their episodes seemed to get dumber and dumber so I stopped. Has nickelodeon even come out with anything new since then? It seems like whenever I am channel surfing they are always playing 2 year old episodes of stuff.

  19. Leroy Brown said

    April 7 2007 @ 7:08 am

    I don’t know if they’re still making new Spongebob episodes. I haven’t seen them all, so I still catch a lot of new ones when I watch it.

  20. Rian Brooklyn said

    April 28 2007 @ 9:35 am

    Seems to me simply a money question. Microsoft is a for profit company, so they are hated by the linux/open source community who want everything for free. when a flaw is found in an MS product it is due to ignorance. When its WordPress, its a common programmer oversight, totally unpreventable. (i’m being cynical here of course)

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GreenLlama

    Green Llama is a place to learn about making money online. Any ideas or walk-through's I have, I'll post here for your enjoyment. I also do product and online service reviews.

    However, I tend to run off on tangets quite often. I call this part of the site 'random crap'. Basically I'll go off and post about whatever I want, just to keep things interesting. Have fun and stay tuned.