Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I Shun Some Microsoft Programs

This is something that I need to explain to almost every new customer; so it makes sense to write it down – finally.

For technical purists: I know my wording is not always technically 100% correct but this blog is written for totally non-technical people; their understanding of the concepts is more important to me than expressing my thoughts technically fully correct. I ask your forgiveness.

In the 1990s Microsoft developed a programming technology known as ActiveX. This technology naturally is widely used in all major Microsoft products. ActiveX programs require the so called “ActiveX environment” on any given computer to be able to work. Consequently all major Microsoft programs contain and supply an ActiveX environment.

In December 2009 Microsoft operating systems powered more than 92% of installed computers according to this ArsTechnica article. This market share has somewhat shrunk but I believe I still can say: Since ActiveX was introduced Microsoft has become a world encompassing monopoly.

According to Internet World Stats currently there are over 2.3 billion Internet users worldwide. Around 80% to 90% of these people use a computer that is run by an operating system from Microsoft.

What is a crook going to do if he wants to (ab-) use your computer for his purpose? What programming technology or programming language is he going to choose? Likely he will choose the programming language that will give him access to the largest number of computers, machines run by a Microsoft operating systems.

Around 2006 there were estimates that about 75% to 80% of all viruses were written in ActiveX. I have not found current statistics but that percentage is lower now. By my personal estimate currently ca. 50% to 60% of viruses are still written in ActiveX.

My conclusion: Just by not using certain Microsoft programs we can easily avoid common ActiveX viruses! Microsoft programs that I avoid are primarily:
  • Internet Explorer
  • Any and all Microsoft email programs
  • Windows Media Player
  • MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint when I need to tap into Internet connected features 
  • Microsoft Messenger (a chat program)    
How do I “get to the Internet” and write letters and so on you ask? The alternatives of my choice are all free, free as in no money at all and safe as far as malicious ActiveX programs go:
As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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