People always seem to talk about how important application security is to them. But rarely do we --as consumers of technology -- have a chance to have a profound impact on the quality and security of software applications and services. But with Microsoft's pending acquisition of Yahoo, a new opportunity arises.It took years (and years) of browbeating Microsoft into improving the security of its operating systems and applications. It took the efforts of security researchers finding software flaws, and holding the company to task to fix them. And it took its large corporate and government agency customers -- largely growing weary of the mundane and too costly task of patching -- to pressure the software company to improve its software.
And improve its software it has. If you don't think so, just go back and look at IE 6, pre-Windows XP SP2, or even pre-SQL Server 2005. Microsoft, and many in the software industry, have come a considerable way since those bad days. But there's still much to do in the industry to reach a level of truly sustainable computing.
This is perhaps especially true in the nascent area of Web 2.0 development. Let's hope Microsoft brings its Trustworthy Computing Initiative, or more precisely its Security Development Lifecycle to Yahoo, should the $45 billion deal come through.
That's not to say that Yahoo hasn't done a decent job at handling security issues. It has done a "decent" job. And in my opinion this is an area where Yahoo has an edge up on Google. The emphasis on security could certainly be better.
And now, with this deal under way, there will come an even more significant push to social networks, cloud computing, and Web applications. In fact, now the real competition will likely get under way between Google and Microsoft in the Web application market.
But with its Trustworthy Computing Initiative, and Security Development Lifecycle in place, Microsoft (I can't believe I'm about to write this) could turn security and Trustworthy Computing into a differentiator.
If Microsoft doesn't bring its SDL to the development cubes at Yahoo, it's up to us to let them know what we think about that. It's happened before.