Windows Vista more secure than XP, says security company

But its edge is little more than half what Microsoft claims, says PC Tools

Microsoft's Windows Vista is 37 per cent more secure than its Windows XP ancestor, a security vendor claimed Friday, a rate it hinted was disappointing.

Using different data collection techniques, Microsoft has recently asserted that Vista is 60% more secure than XP.

For every 1,000 machines running Vista, security company PC Tools counted 639 unique threats over a six-month period, said Michael Greene, the firm's vice president of product strategy, on Friday. "A threat is actually when [malicious code] has penetrated the machine," Greene said. "The malware has to be on the machine to be counted by our ThreatFire community."

Vista's number is lower than the one for Windows XP. Users of PC Tool's ThreatFire behavioral-based anti-malware software who run the nearly-seven-year-old XP reported 1,021 unique threats per 1,000 machines in the same six-month period.

"We wanted to find out how bulletproof Vista was," said Greene, noting that Microsoft has claimed Vista is significantly more secure than its predecessors. "The answer is that it is more secure than XP, but not so secure that you can give up on anti-virus and other security software."

Ironically, the even older Windows 2000 is much more secure, by PC Tools' statistics, than Windows XP or Vista; ThreatFire users reported just 586 unique incidents of penetrated PCs per 1,000 machines during the six-month span.

But Greene essentially dismissed that number, or at least direct comparisons with XP or Vista. "It's a matter of what people are using as desktop machines," he said, adding that since ThreatFire targets consumers and Windows 2000 is rarely run as a desktop client outside of businesses, the unique-threat-per-1,000 doesn't necessarily mean that the old OS was more secure.

Overall, Greene was disappointed in the stats for Windows. "I didn't think the situation would be this bad in general," he said, adding that Microsoft's claims that Vista is substantially more secure than XP doesn't jibe with the ThreatFire numbers.

"I don't think Vista is really any more secure than XP," he said. "People still need to practice safe computing and need to have good security software, and keep their machines patched and up-to-date."

Microsoft, however, has recently claimed that Vista is more secure than XP, and by a greater margin than what Greene and PC Tools allege. According to data collected during cleansing operations of the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), software that Microsoft updates monthly and feeds automatically to most Windows users, 60 per cent fewer Vista machines were infected by a recognizable piece of malware than PCs running XP during the second half of 2007.

Microsoft summarized its MSRT data in a security report published about three weeks ago. The report's key findings, as well as the full report, can be downloaded from Microsoft's site.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?