Microsoft’s Slammer pain is good for everybody

SQL Slammer hit where it counts, including HP–historically, one of the biggest Microsoft supporters around–and Microsoft itself.
This is good. Really good.

Microsoft is one of its own biggest customers. Part of this is due to one of the worst cases of not-invented-here syndrome in the industry, and part of it is marketing. If Microsoft can run its enterprise on mostly its software, its argument that you ought to be able to run all of yours on it is much stronger.

When Microsoft feels our pain, that’s good. Problems generally get fixed. Not necessarily the way we want them fixed, but fixed. When Microsoft for whatever reason doesn’t feel our pain, things languish. Witness the development of Windows 9x late in its lifecycle, after Microsoft was able to run everything internally, including laptops, on Windows 2000. While Windows 98SE was fairly good, all things considered, Windows Me was so horrid that one of my magazine editors wrote me and asked me the least painful way to escape it. Windows Me was fast, but it was less stable than 98SE.

What happened? The patches were difficult to install, poorly tested, poorly documented, and it was extremely difficult to know when you needed them. Microsoft’s inability to keep its own servers sufficiently patched illustrates this.

Several things are likely to happen now. People will take non-Microsoft solutions more seriously and, in some cases, deploy them. A not-as-homogenous Internet is good for everybody. Meanwhile, Microsoft will be cleaning up its act, making it easier to ensure that their patches actually work and can be deployed with reasonable ease.

I still think we’ll have disasters like SQL Slammer again. But this is a good step in the right direction.

One thought on “Microsoft’s Slammer pain is good for everybody

  • January 29, 2003 at 9:42 pm
    Permalink

    I am reminded of Richard Feynman’s (http://www.feynmanonline.com) final comments on the shuttle disaster…

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    Well, in this case, the laws of nature at the bit level, or something like that.

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