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Microsoft has Improved Windows Reliability and Security

December 15, 2010 1 comment

Yes, it’s a journey, but I believe Microsoft is delivering on the promise of reliable and secure operating systems, and here’s why. I recently pulled a 512MB Compaq PC running XP out of the closet and put it to back to use. I purchased this unit ~5 years ago for the family and it served us well. But since then we’ve added a laptop, a Mac Book and a Mac Mini, meaning I could now have my own PC. Of course it wouldn’t be easy. The frugal, stubborn nature that prevents the obvious solution (spending a few hundred dollars on a new PC), also precludes spending any meaningful sum to upgrade the unit. So my goal was to create a workable, professional PC with an important constraint – don’t spend money. Anyhow, here’s a brief synopsis of the experience and some observations.

I needed to clean the beast up. The OS was pretty old and the family had added a few things I wouldn’t be needing, like malware, music sharing services and the like. The most malicious thing? A well known security product (Norton) that was so conspicuous and resource consuming it made the unit unusable. The constant pop-up reminders to upgrade my Norton subscription were really aggravating, so that went first. I’ve battled this product before and once needed the “Jaws of Life” to dislodge Norton’s grip. Thankfully, uninstall was sufficient this time. Then I went through the tedious process of patching the OS up to current standards (SP3). While it was time consuming, I must say that our friends in Redmond have figured out how to make patching work with Windows Update. As part of that process, I added Microsoft Security Essentials, which is a free, serviceable replacement for Norton. Takeaways:

  1. Microsoft & Symantec/Norton have reversed positions. Microsoft feels responsible for the security of home computers and they’re acting on it. Windows Update works well and Microsoft Security Essentials gets the job done without being intrusive. Symantec/Norton, on the other hand, has lost its way – at least with consumer products. The old Norton was pure genius. In contrast, Symantec offers the “Norton Removal Tool”, which promises to remove their software from your system.
  2. I’m not an expert on anti-virus, but wouldn’t recommend buying one or continuing a subscription. Corporations need broad, deep, deployable antivirus solutions but Microsoft has eliminated the need for 3rd party solutions in the home market. I removed Norton before patching the OS because that process was long enough without getting an overactive security product involved.
Categories: Microsoft Windows
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