microsoft bug or monopolist instinct?

Discussion in 'other anti-malware software' started by Rick923, Apr 2, 2005.

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  1. Rick923

    Rick923 Registered Member

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    My wife and I have a small home network consisting of two xp home computers used to share our single internet connection. We have microsoft anti spyware installed on each computer and have enabled automatic updating, While this is not our only spyware defence, microsoft antispyware is a usefull addition to our security toolbox. And Bill Gates is happy, our versions of XP are not pirated. Last night I noticed microsoft antispyware automatically updated on my computer, the client computer on the network. Checking the host computer this morning, I noticed my wife's copy of microsoft antispyware had not updated. So I attempted to update it manually. I got a message that it was unable to update because I was not connected to the internet when I was connected to the internet. (exactly the kind of reality denying stupid things only a computer can say when paired with stupid software) I first suspected my firewall and made sure microsoft antispyware had the correct permissions and tried again to manually update with the same results. I even went so far as to briefly disable my firewall with the same results. I then opened my microsoft internet explorer web browser( to see if I could find any hints on why this updating was not working) and noticed that when last used it was closed in the offline status condition. I should mention I try to be security aware and that means I use other web browsers for most of my web surfing and 100% of my e-mail on both computers. Setting the internet explorer( latest version ) to online again verified I was still connected to the internet. I then went back to imicrosoft antispyware and was able to manually update the spyware definitions with no problems. I think this proves the problem I was having with microsoft antispyware updating was in the fact that internet explorer was accidently set to offline. I do not know if getting microsoft security updates for the OS is similarly hooked to internet explorer being online. For now, I will assume its a bug but suspect its deliberate monpolistic behavoir. Microsoft has recently been forced by the EU to remove internet explorer from windows, I suspect that sooner or later microsoft will be busted in the US for antitrust violations, yet, there seems to be that kneejerk use our stuff or else from Microsoft. Microsoft just can't play well with others.

    Sorry for the rant but I do wish to report that problem with updating microsoft antispyware definitions. If it helps someone else get those updates,
    I am glad. I use other web browsers simply because they are both better and
    more secure. I sometimes use internet explorer, after all its better to have options rather than than only one way to do things, but to hook security updates to internet explorer being online is really bad for any company.
     
  2. Togg

    Togg Registered Member

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    You were right about the monopolistic instinct.

    The whole point about incorporating IE into Windows, in such a way as to make it almost impossible to remove, was to prevent/discourage the use of alternative browsers. That was obviously monopolistic behaviour, but it might not have mattered that much if it weren't for the fact that IE was, and still is, horribly insecure.

    MS decided early on to put ease of use before security, and Windows users have lived with the consequences of that decision ever since. Windows software is not attacked because it is so dominant, it is attacked because it has so many weaknesses.

    The only error I can see in your post is that it is Windows Media Player that has to be unbundled, not IE. I believe that there are so many shared components Windows would stop working properly if IE were removed (which is why it is necessary to disable so many of the 'dangerous' aspects of IE, namely ActiveX, cross domain scripting etc., even if you use other browsers).
     
  3. erikguy

    erikguy Registered Member

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    You both are right except for the monopoly thing. Apparently setting IE to "offline" makes Windows believe it is truly not connected to the internet. Not just for Microsoft applications even though yes it's true Media Player and other M$ software won't update until IE is set back to "online". But I also remember other applications doing the same. I remember Spyware Blaster behaving the same way back in an older version I think, it definitely doesn't do it now. What I don't understand is what Rick's talking about "hooking updates to internet explorer being online"? Of course if you use IE it would need to be "online" to browse the internet or if you use another browser it probably won't be dependent on that. IE is "offline" and I'm browsing with Firefox 1.02 here no problem.
     
  4. Rick923

    Rick923 Registered Member

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    To ericguy or anyone who does not understand what I mean by ie being offline.

    First, I am sorry if anyone is confused about what I mean by set to offline.

    At least in my case, I connect to my isp by doubleclicking a modem icon on my desktop. Normally, once an internet conenction is established with my isp I can then doubleclick the icon of any of a number web browsers I have installed on my computer. At which point the web browser is supposed to open and do its thing. Or I can update programs like spyware blaster 3.3 without opening a web browser by doubleclicking its icon on the desktop and selecting update when the program opens.

    Either due to lack of internet access or for no pressing need to connect to the internet, one might have a reason to open a web browser such as internet explorer or mozilla. Two common examples might be to re read a previously opened e-mail or to check or change some security setting. The default status of a web browser is online and once opened a web browser will search for the home page and without internet access it simply will never find its home page until an active internet connection is established. To allow a person to work with a browser without an internet connection an offline option exists in internet explorer and mozilla to name two. In such an offline state the browser ceases searching for the home page and disables those parts that require internet access. This offline state allow the user to do needed things without the browser perpetually reminding them they are not connected to the internet. Until internet access is restored, no option exists to reset the web browser to online status. So a web browser could be closed in the offline status. If a browser is closed in the online status it opens in that status. If a browser is closed in the offline status it remains in the offline status but offers the option to go to online status when it detects an active internet connection when its icon is next doubleclicked.
    A web browser will also go offline when an internet connection is termanated
    for any reason with or without user intervention.

    In my case, evidently that is what happened. Either my wife or I closed internet explorer in the offline status and went on to do other things. As we seldom use internet explorer but rather use mozilla for 99% of our web browsing and 100% of our e-mail, we went days and days without ever clicking the internet explorer icon or realizing internet explorer was in an offline state. Mozilla was used frequently over the course of many reboots and my wife and I never thought about internet explorer or realized it was in an offline state. You cannot tell by the desktop icon. Meanwhile no microsoft antispyware updates reached that computer

    In my case I have a large number of anti-malware apps. Some autoupdate and others require manual updating. Only microsoft antispyware beta cares what browser I have, if its opened or closed, or what state any web browser was closed in. Normally I update my antimalware apps from the desktop with an internet connection active and no web browsers open. When microsoft antispyware beta refused to auto or manually update, I knew I had a problem.
    I knew this problem was solved when I doubleclicked the internet explorer icon, internet explorer then offered to go online, I enabled the online option, closed the internet explorer web browser, and then updates worked. I assume but have not verified that microsoft security updates will behave the same way. For those persons like me who mostly use web browsers other than intrenet explorer, it might be wise to check from time to time to make sure internet explorer was closed in the online condition or you might miss critical updates to other microsoft products especially your OS. And updates are your first line of internet security defense.

    Hope that clarifies the matter to anyone who is confused by what I mean by a browser being offline. And for that matter, you can easily replicate these conditions on your own computer.

    Rick923
     
  5. erikguy

    erikguy Registered Member

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    Yes, I know what you were talking about my point remains valid....
    BTW some programs ARE dependant on IE's settings usually concerning the proxy settings.
     

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