It took them some time to get it right, but eventually IE took over. Now, you'd have a hard time finding a Microsoft product more complex than Minesweeper or calc.exe that doesn't connect to the Net somehow. And let's not forget that Netscape provided Microsoft with some much-appreciated help in taking over the Web, by screwing up their own release schedule so badly that there never was a Netscape 5.0.
Flash-forward to a couple of years ago, when Bill sent out yet another all-hands memo, pointing the company in the direction of security. At first, we all laughed. But now it's becoming more and more obvious that they're taking security every bit as seriously as they once took the Internet. They are aiming to be the top of the heap in security, and they've got drive, ambition and aggression.
Make no mistake, this kind of event is exactly what a company that wants to get secure should be doing. Thomlinson's comments about how seeing their code exploited "hits people in the gut", and the fact that "he was glad to see the crowd of engineers taking things personally" -- these things are right on the money. These things say to me that, within a few years, we're going to see some really damn secure stuff coming out of Microsoft.
In the meantime, Firefox exploits are cropping up at a seemingly greater pace. This worries me. It looks like a repeat of 1997, when Netscape lost huge amounts of ground to IE by producing a product that wasn't as good as the competition. SP2 wa s huge leap forward in security for Windows and for IE, and Blue Hat makes it obvious that Microsoft is just going to get better at it. In the meantime, Firefox appears to be standing still on the security front, or maybe even losing a little ground. Sure, it's still miles ahead of IE's security, but if IE keeps up the pace, it will overtake Firefox sooner or later -- probably sooner.
Is there any way the Firefox development team (and the OO.o team, and anyone else who's working on high-profile F/OSS projects) can take a lesson from Blue hat? Can we get together events like this of our own?
If we don't, I can already see that by 2009 or so, at the latest, I'll be telling clients to go with Microsoft products, because they're more secure than F/OSS. And I don't want to see that happen.