Vista "more secure than Linux or OS X" claims researcher

Computers running Microsoft's latest operating system Windows Vista are more secure than those running Linux or OS X, according to a new report from a Microsoft researcher.

The study revealed that in the 90 days following the release of the OS, Microsoft patched fewer flaws in the product compared to any other recently released operating system.

The Windows Vista 6-Month Vulnerability Report compared Vista against its predecessor Windows XP, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 workstation, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and OS X.

The operating system had no high-severity vulnerabilities prior to its launch, compared with 40 in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and nine in Ubuntu, the report claimed.

Patches to fix 12 vulnerabilities in its new operating system in the first six months after Vista went on sale to business customers were released by Microsoft. Another 15 vulnerabilities stayed unpatched, with NIST rating one as "high severity", four as "medium" and ten as "low".

The study compared this with 36 patched and three unpatched vulnerabilities in XP, 74 patched and 11 unpatched in Ubuntu 6.06, 214 patched and 59 unpatched in Red Hat Enterprise Linux , 123 patched and 20 unpatched in Novell SLED 10, and 60 patched and 16 unpatched in Mac OS X 10.4. Both Red Hat's and Ubuntu's operating systems were tested as a reduced component set that had applications such as OpenOffice uninstalled to give a better comparison with Vista.

"Windows Vista has and improved security vulnerability profile over its predecessor and a significantly better profile to comparable modern competitive operating systems," said Jeff Jones, director of the Trustworthy Computing Initiative at Microsoft's Security Business Unit.

In closing comments in the report Jones admitted that his security claims would provoke a reaction from Linux and Apple fans. "Jeff actively encourages readers to challenge his assumptions, analysis and conclusions and provide critical feedback - but asks for equal (or better) rigour in methodology and analysis to support the challenges, as opposed to enthusiastic espousal of unsupported evangelistic fervour," said Jones.

The report can be found here.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.