The long-dormant browser wars are heating up again, thanks in part to pesky Russian scam artists looking to shake down Web users accessing sites powered by Microsoft's IIS. Because the trick of the Scob -- or Download.ject -- attack involves exploiting IE, pundits everywhere are pushing the panic button.
Columnists from eWEEK, BusinessWeek and even Microsoft-owned Slate wrote about how they are swearing off Microsoft's Web browser, and they urged others to follow suit. Slate's Paul Boutin even gives
There have also been reports this week that two influential security organizations are recommending that people drop IE.
And it appears Redmond has done just that. This morning, Microsoft released a statement announcing a configuration change for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 that "improves system resiliency to protect against the Download.ject attack." The fix is expected to be available on the Windows Update site later today. And the company said it is actively working on a patch for the IE vulnerability.
Elsewhere in the news
Organizations still running Windows NT 4.0 have been on a roller coaster ride of hope these last couple of weeks. First came news that Microsoft was offering special NT support to financial institutions through an industry group called BITS. Oops. Microsoft had to clarify that this was not an extension of support for NT, but merely a service to help banks and others with their migrations. Then Microsoft released Virtual Server 2005. Some users got a gleam in their eye thinking that they could run NT on top of Microsoft's virtualization technology, and thereby get more free NT support. Wrong again. Microsoft said Virtual Server will help companies as they migrate off NT, but it won't buy them anymore NT support.
Lest there be further confusion, here's the real deal on NT: Free support ended on Wednesday for Windows NT Workstation. Free support for Windows NT 4.0 Server expires on Dec. 31.
A coy courtship of McAfee
Microsoft is feigning indifference about a courtship of Network Associates Inc., known once again as McAfee Inc. Industry watchers say Redmond covets the antivirus software maker, and they speculate that McAfee primed itself for a purchase by jettisoning its Sniffer network management unit.
Still, the two are being coy in public. At the European TechEd conference this week, Microsoft security executive Steven Adler downplayed the company's interest in McAfee, but he didn't exactly deny it either. "We're quite happy with what we've got," he said in an interview with Silicon.com. Presumably, Adler was talking about the antivirus technology it acquired from Romania's GeCAD Software Srl. An interesting side note: The Windows Update site urges users to deploy antivirus software, and it mentions Symantec Corp., F-Secure and Computer Associates International Inc. by name. McAfee is not listed.
Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly may have to finally admit defeat in his quest to place greater government restrictions on Microsoft's business practices. This week, a federal appeals court rejected the state's bid to overturn the Department of Justice's antitrust settlement with the software maker. In fact, the justices were downright giddy in their unanimous ruling upholding the 2-year-old settlement. Referring to the technology now in Windows that lets users better access non-Microsoft software, they wrote, "We say, well done!"
Is the cease-fire broken?
It's only been a few months since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Sun Microsystems Inc. chairman and CEO Scott McNealy shook hands on a deal to end their companies' legal feuds with one another, but the harsh rhetoric has returned.