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Drug lords don't have it this good

Microsoft's David Finn sounds like a beaten man. In a speech this week, the "digital integrity" executive admitted that virus writers and software counterfeiters are pretty much operating at will around the globe.

Lawsuits and criminal prosecutions have done little to prevent such practices, which are costing enterprises -- and Microsoft -- billions in lost revenue. The costs associated with system disruptions and crashes caused by Blaster and Sobig-F alone come to about $13 billion. And counterfeiting is wreaking havoc with software vendors as well. Heck, it's a better deal to be a software counterfeiter than a drug lord. Finn estimated that the profit margin is nine times better for bogus software than it is for cocaine -- and it's a lot less likely that you'll end up in a body bag.

The software-piracy world isn't devoid of a lighter side, however. This week, authorities in Malaysia reported that copies of Microsoft's Longhorn are showing up in street markets. The trouble is, Longhorn won't be out until 2006 or later. What buyers there are really getting is some sample Longhorn code that Microsoft passed around in October at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.

Imagine the surprise users will get when they install this "operating system" and it blows up their machines like a trick cigar in a cartoon. What do you expect for something that sells on the street for $1.58?

New flaws discovered

Microsoft has released information on how to fix some flaws related to Exchange Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003. In the first instance, Microsoft pointed admins to the configuration that creates a security hole in Outlook Web Access, the component of Exchange that enables users to access their mailboxes via the Web.

According to article, Microsoft said that the vulnerability surfaces when Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 is installed on a computer running both Exchange Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003. Systems are at risk only if they have deployed front-end Exchange 2003 servers and have installed SharePoint Services -- and add-on for Windows Server 2003 -- on Exchange 2003 back-end servers.

A different flaw in SharePoint Services has also been discovered. When installing the services software after Nov. 24, some users found that validations for certain dynamic-link libraries (DLLs) failed, and error messages appeared. Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and plans to offer a patch within "the next several days," according to a report Wednesday by ENT magazine.

Even though Christmas isn't for a few weeks, Microsoft is already in the giving spirit. The software maker announced this week that it is going to make more of its considerable stash of intellectual property available for licensing by other vendors. The first technologies up for grabs are Microsoft's ClearType font display system and its file allocation table (FAT) technology.


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