Fired or Resigned? Microsoft Critic Out of Job

The primary author of a report critical of Microsoft is out of work.

@Stake, a Boston-based computer security firm that does business with Microsoft
, issued a statement Thursday that Daniel Geer, who presented a white paper Wednesday in Washington that said the government’s increasing reliance on Microsoft desktop software makes federal systems “susceptible to massive, cascading failures,” is “no longer associated” with the firm as its chief technology officer.

The @Stake statement also said Geer’s report was not approved by the company and that the “values and opinions of the report are not in line” with the company’s views.

Neither @Stake, which has done software evaluation research for Microsoft, nor Geer would comment whether he was fired or resigned from the company. By Friday morning, Geer was no longer listed on the company’s website as part of @Stake’s management team.

Microsoft also denied it had any hand in the matter.

Geer presented the report at a meeting of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a trade group that promotes open systems and networks and that has been critical of the Redmond, Wash., giant. Geer said Microsoft’s near monopoly of government business ensures that its software will continue to be the number one target of viruses, worms and other attacks.

Geer urged the government to require Microsoft to make its code available in order for competitors to design applications that integrate better with Microsoft products. He also said the government should require Microsoft to design its applications to work better with competitors’ programs.

The report was promptly criticized by another trade group, which includes Microsoft as one of its members, as “marketing by fear to line the pockets of a handful of large companies” that compete with Microsoft.

CIO magazine also turned down the CCIA’s efforts to distribute copies of the report to the publication’s subscribers, saying the material was “too sensitive,” according to a report in the Washington Post. Microsoft advertises extensively with the trade magazine.

Microsoft’s software is pervasive throughout the government. In July, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security signed a five-year, $90 million contract with Microsoft to supply Windows operating systems for its 140,000 employees. The government also heavily depends on a number of other Microsoft products including word processors, spread sheets, Internet browsers and multi-media players.

Geer said Microsoft’s near monopoly of government business ensures that its software will continue to be the number one target of viruses, worms and other attacks.

In response to the white paper, Jim Prendergast, executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL), said the CCIA was attempting to exploit cyber-security issues.

“Computer security is a serious issue that affects consumers, government and the entire technology industry and it is a real shame that the issue is now being exploited by CCIA as one more element of their anti-Microsoft campaign,” Prendergast, who counts Microsoft as a member of his group, said in an statement. “Cyber-security is an industry-wide problem that will not be solved by malicious finger pointing and political attacks.”

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CTIA), which also counts Microsoft as a member, said the report was “fundamentally flawed, myopically looking to technology (i.e., ‘bad’ software OS) instead of addressing the underlying cause … human behavior … for cyber breaches.”

News Around the Web