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MS on Trial Global virus armageddon will be the result of the breakup of Microsoft, "writes" Bill Gates in this week's Time magazine, due to go on sale today. Or very nearly, anyway; you may well wonder how the hell he makes that one out. It's simple, really, as Bill - or whoever knee-jerked the piece out so swiftly - explains. The front line defence against viruses is apparently a "continually evolving" computer operating system that encourages large numbers of software developers to write for it. But if Microsoft is split into two, there would be less innovation in the software, hence fewer developers, and ultimately less defence against viruses. "Bill" also claims that subsequent to a breakup new, more virus-proof versions of Office and Windows would be "much harder for computer users to obtain". So there you go. If you've been thinking that the reasons viruses are specifically targetted at Microsoft software are because Outlook leaves plenty big holes for them to drive through, and because Microsoft software has 90 per cent plus of the market, then you're wrong. On the contrary, continual Microsoft innovation must have made the software less vulnerable. The way "Bill" tells it, all of the stuff you read about security holes in Microsoft software (much of it... er... on the Microsoft Web site) can't possibly be true. And even if it is, so long as Microsoft doesn't get broken up, in the future it'll still be possible for consumers to buy new Microsoft software that offers better virus protection. Honest. Maybe.

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