Attacking Vista and defending HSBC

A look back at the stories that got people talking this week

Windows Vista — an Easter present? The mystery surrounding when the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, Vista, will actually ship continues to attract debate. This time, analyst house Gartner has postulated that Microsoft may be holding Vista back for political reasons rather than the usual bug-fixing issues.

But the continuing debate is lost on some of you. Jon Stenton for one argued that it really doesn't matter when Vista eventually ships as the days when Microsoft's OS ship-dates had a major impact on the industry are over.

"Why would anyone care if Vista ever arrives?" Stenton asked. "It is an unusable, completely outdated and malware-infested platform. Even if it arrives now, next year or the year after, it is behind modern OSs like Apple's by several years and Apple will be raising the bar substantially early in the new year."

Stenton argues that Microsoft is simply trying to play catch-up with Apple but has fallen so far back in the race that it's no longer worth their while trying to catch-up. "Longhorn / Vista was promised originally for the 2002/2003 time frame with features intended to compete with Apple's OS X four versions ago. Any of the real improvement have long since been dropped. While Microsoft is still desperate to mimic what it can of Apple's innovations they are pale, buggy and crappie imitations of long since replaced or improved concepts"

However, not all readers think Microsoft is a lost cause quite yet. Robb Kimmer responded to Stenton's comments by arguing that there are still plenty of people out there who will buy into Vista.

"While I agree with most of the previous writer's arguments/comments, I think that Vista will be very popular on enterprise and home desktops. It will be the natural upgrade to XP Pro," said Kimmer. "Microsoft still has a long future as the number one software company. But, the times they are a-changing."

Can't see past Vista? With Microsoft trying to whip up interest in Vista ahead of its eventual launch early next year, there are plenty of stories doing the rounds about the new OS. Aside from its eventual ship-date, the news that all versions will ship on a single DVD has attracted some attention. And the idea that the OS will be the most secure to date has given some of you a taste of déjà vu.

"The spokesperson also denied that Windows Anytime Upgrade would prove an attractive target for hackers, saying Vista was 'the most secure version of Windows yet'. The same was said about 95, 98, 98SE, ME, 2000, and XP. Maybe the 7th time is the charm," said regular Talkback-poster Oldator.

HSBC's security arms race. The daily Leader article is a publication's collective thinking on an issue, rather than the unbiased approach taken in regular news reporting. Opinions tend to polarise readers and our take on what we perceived as some flawed thinking on the part of HSBC was no different.

At a recent conference, one of the bank's senior security heads argued that rivals that had chosen to augment their security systems with technologies such as two-factor authentication were guilty of marking out those banks that hadn't done likewise for attack by hackers. Our Leader pointed out the flaws in this reaction and argued for greater co-operation by the banks when it comes to protecting customers.

But some readers thought we had missed the point. "What a short-sighted piece of so called 'journalism'," said one reader known as Asec Mann. "My take on what the HSBC guy was saying was that the principles of two-factor authentication are fundamentally flawed (if you can be bothered to do just a little research you will understand why this is). Those banks who are currently losing a VASTLY disproportionate percentage of UK industry losses may deploy two factor as a temporary fix precisely because they have not invested in other very effective anti-fraud measures."

Another reader, company director Tony Harbon, argued that we hadn't done our homework. "All of this is quite bizarre seeing as HSBC has itself started to ship out one-time password tokens to its business customers this week!"

Broadband 'sub-letting' makes no sense. The concept at the heart of Fon has rubbed some of you the wrong way. Members of the Fon community, known as "Foneros", use Wi-Fi to share broadband connections with other members, either for free or for a fee, depending on the class of membership. The Fon community idea got short shrift from one reader, Myles, who wrote: "Who in their right mind would consider doing this? What a stupid idea"

But Antonio Fuentes, the organisation's chief financial officer, used Talkback to point out that despite Fon contravening the terms and conditions of most ISPs out there, some allow this kind of broadband sharing. "FON has already signed agreements with major ISPs like Neuf in France, Jazztel in Spain and Labs2 in Sweden and is also negotiating with many others. These partners welcome FON as an opportunity and a complement to their businesses, allowing their users to use their connections in this manner," he said.


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