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Viruses and hackers make Windows more secure – Gates

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Virus writers and hackers are helping Microsoft to develop more secure products, Bill Gates claimed yesterday.

Speaking at at the Developing Software for the future Microsoft Platform in London yesterday, just hours before the MyDoom virus began spreading like wildfire across the Net, Gates reiterated that security remains key priority for the software giant.

He acknowledged that better security is vital if its .NET strategy is to succeed.

Microsoft would lose out, as would businesses, if customers resisted moves to put their businesses on the Net because of security concerns, he said.

He said Microsoft wanted to make sure viral epidemics cease to happen.

Gates did not say how this might happen beyond noting that the software giant had learned from hackers and recent viral outbreaks.

Microsoft has improved its inspection techniques, emphasised the value of fewer lines of code in software development and developed firewall technologies for PCs. Internet worms have also spurred improvements in auto-updating technology, according to Gates.

Bcause the smartest hackers targeted Windows Microsoft could improve the security of its platform more rapidly than OS rivals, he argued: hackers are "good for the maturation" of the platform"

"It would be wrong to say an operating system is more secure because nobody is attacking it," said Gates, in a clear dig at OS rivals such as Apple and Linux.

Getting customers to apply patches - vital in cutting down routes viral spread - is a thorny issue for Microsoft. Only one in five (20 per cent) customers are up to date with patches, Gates says.

Gates's perspective on hackers fits fairly closely to their own frequently-cited view that they are acting in an attempt to force Microsoft to improve the security of its products. Unlike his colleague Steve 'Sherriff' Ballmer, Gates isn't inclined to drawing analogies between hackers and bank robbers. ®

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