Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

Summary: If you're a Windows user that's holding onto your Vista or XP installation, then this recent security report from Microsoft might make you think about switching to Windows 7.

SHARE:

If you're a Windows user that's holding onto your Vista or XP installation, then this recent security report from Microsoft might make you think about switching to Windows 7.

The report goes on for nearly ninety pages, but I think that this chart of quarterly infection rates for 2010 says it all really:

This data has been normalized so that it represents infections per thousand systems (in other words, the popularity of XP doesn't skew the results towards XP).

Windows XP SP3 32-bit has an infection rate of 15.9 per thousand systems, while Windows Vista SP2 32-bit has half this infection rate, 7.5 per thousand. Windows 7 32-bit nearly halves this again to 3.8 per thousand, while Windows 7 64-bit managed to get the infection rate per thousand down to 2.5.

Why is 64-bit Windows more secure? Microsoft offers up two possible suggestions:

  • That 64-bit users are more savvy than 32-bit users (more true in 2010 than it is in 2011)
  • Kernel Patch Protection helps to prevent unauthorized modifications, hobbling a lot fo malware

There are other interesting nuggets in the report. Take this chart of exploit attempts, showing how hackers have leapt on Java:

Here's another interesting chart, showing how PDF exploits have fallen dramatically:

So, Windows 7 is safer than Vista, and much safer than XP ... does this make you want to upgrade?

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

179 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Message has been deleted.

    Economister
    • Message has been deleted.

      LiquidLearner
      • Message has been deleted.

        nilotpal_c
      • Message has been deleted.

        LiquidLearner
      • Message has been deleted.

        Economister
      • Message has been deleted.

        LiquidLearner
      • Message has been deleted.

        Economister
      • Message has been deleted.

        athynz
      • Message has been deleted.

        betelgeuse68
      • It's really really really sad...

        XP being less secure is understandable.. It's more than a decade old... But Vista??? I just spent my weekend cleaning malware off a friends Vista PC (She should have listened when I told her to get a Mac, but she didn't have the money at the time... But she swears that her next one will be a Mac)...<br><br>So she is stuck with a Vista POS... Not only is it buggy as horse snot on a spring day, but it's end of life for Microsponge updates is just around the corner... MS has really slacked off on keeping Vista secure and really dropped the ball for those customers who supported them in their time of need... It's a big fat sweaty slap in the face to their customers... I think Win 7 is more secure simply because malware writers can't find drivers... especially for 64 bit winblows 7 (good luck getting that to function in enterprise with an slightly older print server... talk about a total POS)<br><br>From my perspective, this is just business as usual for Microbrains.. er I mean Microsoft... Not only is Apple hitting them where it hurts, but they are shooting themselves in the foot every chance they get... Oh.. And that IE 9 POS... No friggin search bar??? Are you freaking kidding me??? Good thing Safari and Firefox haven't hit themselves in the head repeaditly with a STUPID rock... WOW!!! MS is sucking it real good and just when you think they can't suck anymore, they step the sucking to the next level... Talk about a bunch of idiots... Who is running that company??? Oh Yeah... Monkey Boy Ballmer... Go figure...
        i8thecat
      • Clueless, are we?

        @i8thecat
        First off, why would she be "stuck" with Vista? You DO know she can get an upgrade to Windows 7 and can get one fairly cheap. The excuse that she needs more/better hardware won't fly - Win 7's hardware requirements are actually lower than Vista's.

        Secondly, Vista and Windows 7 actually share the same driver model. So your retarded comment that the virus writers can't find drivers is so bleeping wrong on so many levels - it isn't even funny. Since the drivers for Vista and Windows 7 are pretty much interchangeable in most cases, your own tale of woe - having to clean your friend's Vista based system - kinda throws your theory about malware writers not finding drivers out the window.

        Furthermore, I just upgraded my system to a new motherboard, CPU and RAM because the old one died after 5 years of use. When I fired up Windows 7 after installing the hardware, it immediately went to work, found EVERYTHING that needed a new driver, asked for a reboot and everything was working. I didn't even need to break out the driver DVD that came with the board. I did need to go to windows update to grab a few updates that were waiting, but there weren't any drivers waiting.

        Third, and BTW... The main address bar doubles as the search bar in IE9.

        So the bottom line - you're utterly clueless when it comes to Windows and things Microsoft. Save the Mac commercial for somewhere there are more gullible fish to be found. Seriously...
        Wolfie2K3
    • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

      @Economister I'm with you in that I never really had any infections on any version of Windows I've run but then again I'm not stupid with the sites I surf and the Software I download...

      However, just because your or I don't have this issue, it does not mean that other users don't...

      I have made quite a bit of money on Windows XP Infections, cleaning them up for people who's kids kept screwing up their PC! A Couple of times I reloaded the OS and the kids had their XP install in the same shape 3 months later! I finally locked the little bastards out to save their parents some money!
      slickjim
      • I agree ...

        @Peter Perry

        that ignorant users cause themselves a lot of grief. I also agree that malware is a serious issue. Without removing individual freedoms however, it is quite difficult to protect people from themselves.

        Remember that the numbers presented in the blog are statistical averages, not you and me. That means there are both very savvy and very stupid users included. As such, when looking at the numbers my way, the infection rates are somewhat surprisingly low, at least to me. Going from 984/1000 to 996/1000 does not strike me as particularly motivating.

        Not being your average user, my numbers would be substantially better across the board, which reduces my incentive further. I know MS fan boys do not like it, but these are MS's numbers after all.
        Economister
      • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

        @Economister That's a 300% Reduction from XP, that's not bad but you're right, 1.6% for an operating system that is 10 years old is not a bad deal at all but .4% is way better!
        slickjim
      • The possible fallacies of percentages

        @Peter Perry

        Let's say infection rates for W7 just before the W8 release will be 5 per thousand, in other words 995 are not infected. Let's further say that infection rates for W8 end up being 1 per thousand, or 999 not infected. That is a 500% reduction according to your calculation, which sounds VERY good. For most users however it has little practical significance, because the vast majority is not going to get infected under either OS version, hence the improvements are almost irrelevant to them. Their odds of staying clean go from 99.5% to 99.9%, which are basically without much practical significance.
        Economister
      • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

        @Economister [i]Their odds of staying clean go from 99.5% to 99.9%, which are basically without much practical significance.[/i]

        If you stand back and look at the bigger picture, sure 4 less people infected in 1000 doesn't seem like much. Unless you happen to be one of those 4.
        Badgered
      • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

        @Peter Perry
        This is part of Microsoft?s latest multi-billion dollar advertising campaign. The objective is for everyone to send their money to Redmond, because they are not making those obscene profits.
        Rick_K
      • I see you have your own marketing campaign going.

        @Rick_K
        But then I guess that's to cover for Apple, as part of Apples latest multi-billion dollar advertising campaign. The objective is for everyone to send their money to Cuportino, because they are not making those obscene profits on Macs.

        I guess it fits right in, and is undisputable.
        John Zern
      • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

        @John Zern
        Show me an Apple product that has an 86% profit margin. When you do then we can compare it to Microsoft?s obscene profits (for barely working products).
        Rick_K
      • RE: Windows 7 more malware-resistant than XP/Vista

        @Peter Perry "I've run but then again I'm not stupid with the sites I surf and the Software I download..." nail on the head. I have never been infected and I have been using it since v3.0
        ItsTheBottomLine