At the Midmarket CIO Summit last week, Kevin Turner, chief operating officer for Microsoft, gave a speech about the role of CIOs in a changing economy. The second half of his talk was largely a sales pitch for Microsoft, and in it, he had this to say about the safety of Windows compared to other operating systems:
Vista today, post-Service Pack 2, which is now in the marketplace, is the safest, most reliable OS we've ever built. It's also the most secure OS on the planet, including Linux and open source and Apple Leopard. It's the safest and most secure OS on the planet today.Even a Windows fan like me can't swallow that one. I've spent countless hours installing and reviewing security software for Windows --- anti-virus software, anti-malware, firewalls, and complete security suites. You don't see that kind of big market for Linux and Mac OS X because there simply aren't as many threats to those operating systems.
It's certainly true that because Windows has by far the largest market share, malware writers are going to target Windows rather than the Mac or Linux. So more people are trying to break into it than are trying to break into Mac or Linux machines. Just that fact alone means that Windows is less secure than its rivals.
Engaging in this kind of hyperbole doesn't really do Microsoft any good. Last week, I wrote that Microsoft was engaging more in propaganda than facts when it detailed the price of the "Apple tax," that people pay when they buy a Mac. There is, in fact, an Apple tax, but Microsoft far overstated how much that tax is. When it comes to security, the company seems to be following suit.