Last week came proof that Peter Gutmann's thesis is not FUD [fear uncertainty doubt]. The computer science professor from the University of New Zealand describes how the Vista operating system is fundamentally flawed.
The Gutman paper lists several doomsday scenerios. The most serious, in my opinion, is Microsoft's ability to remotely shut down all Vista display drivers should a security flaw be found. (Your computer would still run in VGA mode, at a tiny 640x480 resolution and a mere 16 colors.) The security flaw could be something like a cracker finding a way to copy videos -- a security issue that concerns Hollywood, not your business.
And now the first shutdown has occured. All over the world, at the same time on December 31, the same Media Center tv tuner feature in Vista RC1 [release candidate 1] beta simultaneously stopped working. The problem is not with the tv tuner component, reports Ina Fried of CNET, but with two subcomponents, MPEG2 decoder and Dolby Digital 5.1. Microsoft had paid royalties for licenses to use these subcomponents only until 31 December. They will not be reactivated in RC1.
The problem affects as many as five million computers, including those using third-party tv tuners from nVidia and Cyberlink. "I can see now why people go for the bootleg versions of software," says Andy Rodon on the Windows Vista newsgroup. "I have done everything correct. I registered for the Beta program and downloaded from the Microsoft Web Site, and now I can't use the software I wanted to use."
This is the first timebomb to go off in Vista, and Microsoft did not warn its customers ahead of time.
How much might your business be disrupted by this sort of Vista-induced instability? Microsoft's has a slothful track record in fixing secuity flaws; last year, for example, Internet Explorer was usafe for users on 284 days (ref: Brian Krebs on Computer Security).
Imagine a business having 77.8% downtime a year.