An analysis of Microsoft's security endeavors, licensing and software plans by analyst firm Gartner found that the software giant's security track record improved significantly despite a tendency to shift blame for security compromises to hackers and worm writers.
"The worms in 2003 showed there's a long way to go before Windows is secure, and [they] prompted Microsoft to refocus on improving security," Gartner analyst John Pescatore said in his report. "By 2005, Microsoft's server software products will be at or above the industry security average."
"Progress is further away on the desktop, but the market likely has driven Microsoft to take desktop security more seriously," Pescatore said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Given Microsoft's dominance in the desktop market, it should demonstrate its commitment to being a security leader by providing a security update to Windows 2000, even at this late stage of the product's life cycle."
Gartner estimates that 40% of corporate desktops will run Windows 2000 through the second half of 2004.
The report also found that Windows servers and Unix- or Linux-based servers would come in about equal on security costs by the end of 2005.
However, others dispute that prediction. "Linux and Unix are far more inherently secure than Microsoft and should have lower maintenance costs," said Dennis Szerszen, a principal at analyst firm Hurwitz Associates. "Microsoft systems assume everything is safe and will helpfully open ports to applications that request access."
Three other Gartner reports focus on Longhorn as the likely successor to Windows; Microsoft's next-generation information management solution, Yukon, being further delayed and not fundamentally different; and software assurance being crucial to maintenance revenue streams.