ORLANDO, Fla.--Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Tuesday defended his company's efforts to secure its software and fend off open-source rivals.
Ballmer, speaking here at an industry conference market research firm Gartner sponsored, acknowledged that the software maker has been late to introduce better ways for its customers to patch their systems but said Microsoft is now making strides. "I know we need to do better, but we are in this challenging position where the hacker only needs to find one vulnerability, and we need to keep them out," he said.
CEO Steve Ballmer reiterates Microsoft's "top priority" efforts to make its software more secure, and he continues the company's campaign against open source.
Despite its recent efforts, Microsoft still needs to do more to ensure antsy customers about the security of its products. It's also out to prove that proprietary software adheres to higher standards than Linux and other open-source software.
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"We have put a lot of energy into patching, later than we should have," he said. "We have been raising our game."
Ballmer also said increasing the quality and security of the company's software is vital to retaining customer confidence. Microsoft is in the midst of a nearly 2-year-old plan, called Trustworthy Computing, to better secure its systems.
Critics say the plan has been slow to take effect. And that's no small matter, according to researchers who have been pointing to the dangers of overreliance on Microsoft software, especially the Windows operating system.
"We rarely fail at something that is our top priority, and this is absolutely our top priority," he said. "It's hard. It's not like horseshoes--we can't just come close. We have our best brains on it. The issue of customer satisfaction can slow down progress for the whole industry and can help us differentiate ourselves from the competition. It's a defining-moment issue for us."
Ballmer said the mechanism for applying patches to the company's Windows operating system and related application "needs to be more predictable, with one simple installation, (with) rollback and management tools." Microsoft earlier this month said it will focus on adding new security technologies to its products and improving its process for releasing patches.