back to article Ex-Microsoft Office chief reflects on early malware and the 'global attack on the new Windows PC infrastructure'

Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's former Office and Windows chief, has recalled the impact of early viruses like WM/Concept.A, Melissa and ILOVEYOU, as well as early privacy debates centered on hidden GUIDs (globally unique identifiers) in Word documents. Sinofsky is writing a book on his time at Microsoft, currently titled …

  1. Paul Herber Silver badge

    " 20-page memo"


    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: " 20-page memo"

      One advantage of Outlook (I never thought I'd utter those words together in the same sentence) is that he was able to.

      Sending email via a web browser at that time almost certainly he would have been timed out and lost the whole lot. To this day if I'm forced to send a long and important email using a browser interface I will compose it using Notepad, then paste it into the Message Body box when ready to send.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: " 20-page memo"

        I'm still not clear why the web browser has effectively become the new OS, sitting of course on top of the real OS. For preference I still use native applications, as they run much faster, are more durable, and don't keep changing in little details at some stranger's whim.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: " 20-page memo"

          Mobile apps are slowly killing the web anyway much to Berners Lee's annoyance. In one way that's a shame as a common non walled off gateway to information is a Good Thing. OTOH the web and its 3rd rate hacked together technological mashup of style pages, html, javascript etc have become a bloated inefficient bug ridden ball and chain holding back progress.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: " 20-page memo"

          And, for the most part, if you are careful about the software you use, the data remains on your machine or on your network, it isn't blabbed out to clouds or software producers...

        3. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: " 20-page memo"

          I'm still not clear why the web browser has effectively become the new OS, sitting of course on top of the real OS.

          That was the worry Microsoft had with Netscape, that it might become a competitor to Windows. You could run applications on the browser and if that became popular Windows might be ignored or sidelined. It got so bad that as Wired published in their article:

          According to an America Online internal email, Gates asked an AOL executive in January 1996, “How much do we need to pay you to screw Netscape?” by designating Internet Explorer as AOL’s featured browser.

          Wired Article

  2. Daniel von Asmuth


    If gravity was invented by Steve Jobs for the Apple Newton, wasn't security something that Microsoft invented as the next big thing after XP or perhaps it was called Dot Net.

  3. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not that early

    These weren't THAT early of viruses... UNIX systems after all had already been getting viruses 10 years earlier, and in fact DOS systems had been getting viruses throughout the 1980s too.

    And Window (circa late 1990s) lack of security can't be blamed on a 1960's-style lax culture... UNIX (especially BSD UNIX) definitely has a countercultural background to it, and in fact was quite insecure in the 1980s*. Morris worm came out in late 1988, and woke up the UNIX vendors that security is important. The Microsoft and UNIX cultures were just so seperate that, despite the clear warning on what can happen to insecure networked systems, Microsoft decided to totally ignore security until things seperately came to a head on Windows systems.

    *flaws in 1980s UNIXes.... just to name 3 off the top of my head... UUCP -- UNIX-to-UNIX CoPY -- typically set up so actually any file off the system, including the password file, could be requested for download; unpassworded guest accounts; some vendors kept a root-level "field service" account on their systems, username: field and password: service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not that early

      The Morris worm exploited bugs in unix daemons whilst the windows macro viruses utilised functionality *deliberately* and stupidly built into windows programs clearly without the MS designers even bothering to consider the possibilities of misuse. Two entirely different scenarios.

      Unix security issues are usually either bugs or admin screw ups, not fundamental OS and application suite design flaws as with Windows.

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Not that early

      u$ was not ignoring security lessons from UNIX. They were refusing to learn lessons from the plethora of DOS viruses.

      u$ -- the world's worst industrial polluter.

  4. Dvon of Edzore

    Corporate blind spot

    The real solution, totally preventing executable content in documents, was apparently never considered. There's a reason we never heard of WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 viruses - and market share isn't it. Each was king until MS dirty tricks deposed them in favor of the Office cabal.

  5. big_D Silver badge


    together with the sense that what really counts is not the device you use, but the cloud services you access.

    Hmm, I use OneDrive to save my photos to from my smartphone, before downloading them to my local PC and NAS. That's about it for cloud at home.

    At work, nearly all employees have a PC, about 5% of them have a company smartphone and they aren't allowed to install any third party apps onto the phone, only those provided by the IT department. The only cloud service we are currently allowed to use - and this rolled out last week - is Microsoft Teams. Everything else has to stay behind the firewall...

    Not every cloud has a silver lining. I'd rather not have my data held to ransom.

    1. Kabukiwookie

      Re: Cloudy...

      I use OneDrive to save my photos to from my smartphone

      The NSA thanks you for providing a test data set for its face recognition software.

      Hang on. That's no face...

    2. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: Cloudy...

      My smartphone (Android) has a google and a samsung cloud but I never access them. I Think my phone gets backed up to the cloud/ I just do not care.

      as for Windows, I have no microsoft account for my pc and NO onedrive.

      I have other, safer ways of backing up by data. Anyway onedrive only has a tiny capacity. I have ober a gb alone in pictures.

  6. Claverhouse Silver badge

    "The software industry had grown up from the counterculture 1960s. Steve Jobs with no shoes. Bill Gates hacking his high school computer system. Both college dropouts. What the PC industry lacked was any formal notion of what it meant to be a software engineer,"


    Lovechild, maybe; but Billybob never struck me as ever a free-spirited hippy.

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      No Shoes Steve

      Steve J. too. He was intensely serious and driven. Hardly an acid head.

  7. tony2heads

    RE picture

    I never realised that Steve was so tiny. Clearly a micro-manager

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