Internet giant Google has ticked off Microsoft by revealing bugs in Microsoft’s Windows 8 system. The revelation by Google was interpreted by Microsoft as irresponsible because releasing the information before Microsoft could patch the bugs put Microsoft customers at potential risk.
Google recently revealed that there were bugs in Microsoft’s Windows 8 software. Windows 8 is the latest Microsoft release and has many capabilities, including touch input. However, the software has been plagued with bugs and complaints from users. When it first launched, the OS was castigated for lacking the ‘Home’ button that people were used to in Windows. That made navigation of Windows 8 a complex affair, with seasoned users finding the whole tab display quite unnerving. Microsoft went ahead and added the home button, then the bugs started affecting the system.
Recognizing that bugs are unavoidable especially when software is as complex as Windows 8, Microsoft has put in a predictable cycle where they release patches on Tuesdays. That allows their customers to anticipate and plan for running patches forehand. This is especially important for enterprise customers who need to test the patches before they deploy them.
Now, the recent revelation by Google came from Google’s initiative called Project Zero. The initiative is a program ran by Google which brings together some of the world’s top internet-security brains and asks them to review software for bugs. When the bugs are found, there is a policy that Google will not reveal the information to the public for 90 days, a period within which the software developer should have released a patch. If the developer fails to release the patch within 90 days, Google releases the information to the public. Curiously, the Google sponsored Project Zero does no list any flaws in Google software.
The danger with releasing bug information to the public is that for one it damages the reputation of the developer. Secondly, it notifies hackers of flaws which they can take advantage of. On the other hand, the 90 day grace period, if we can call it so, puts urgency on the developer, forcing them to make a patch before they get exposed.
The bone of contention in this case is that Google released the information to the public after 90 days had elapsed, even though Microsoft had informed them that the patch they developed was buggy and had to be redone, and would therefore be released 2 days after the 90 day period. Microsoft felt that Google acted in an irresponsible way since they were aware that a patch would be released the coming Tuesday.
Microsoft’s Chris Betz was quoted saying, “Although following through keeps to Google’s announced timeline for disclosure, the decision feels less like principles and more like a ‘gotcha’, with customers the ones who may suffer as a result. What’s right for Google is not always right for customers. ”
The battle for internet supremacy between Google and Microsoft seem to keep going on. Microsoft is quick to point out flaws where Google errs, such as when it was accused of collecting too much personal information. Google, on the other hand, is quick to expose Microsoft like in this instance.
Top/Featured Image: By Manuel Iglesias / Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/michperu/3702942040/)