Shocking Statement: Windows Vista Doesn't Need Anti-Virus Software

Dennis Faas's picture

It has been drummed into the minds of PC users for years that anti-virus software is an absolute must! That's why most new computers today come with a limited time subscription for free anti-virus protection.

However, Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin boldly declared in a recent press conference that he's completely comfortable running Vista minus a program that shields his little boy's computer from viruses.

"My son, seven years old, runs Windows Vista, and, honestly, he doesn't have an antivirus system on his machine," Allchin said. "His machine is locked down with parental controls, he can't download things unless it's to the places that I've said that he could do, and I'm feeling totally confident about that. That is quite a statement. I couldn't say that in Windows XP SP2."

Allchin's supreme confidence can be summed up in four letters: ASLR. That stands for Address Space Layout Randomization, and it's a new technology that has been developed for Vista.

Here's how it works: "Each Windows Vista machine is slightly different than every other Windows Vista machine," Allchin explained. "So even if there is a remote exploit on one machine, and a worm tries to jump from one machine to another, the probability of that actually succeeding is very small. And I wanted to do this in Windows XP SP2, but we couldn't figure out how to do it. So then a smart guy here came up with a solution, so we put it in Windows Vista."

But Allchin did admit that "there's just no way for us to say that some perfection has been achieved [with Vista and its new ASLR technology]." (Source:

A world where computers are much safer from the threat of viruses sounds like a lovely dream. Unfortunately, Allchin eventually had to later "clarify" (retract) his grandiose claims.

From his official blog about Windows Vista:

"Wow, you describe a specific situation and suddenly people extrapolate something completely different! ... The point I had been trying to make (albeit unclearly) is that Windows Vista includes new security features that can dramatically help improve our customers' security for certain situations. ... I ended up telling a story about how the machine my seven-year-old son uses has no antivirus software installed because it runs in a very locked down configuration, which includes only being able to visit websites on an approved list (approved through the parental controls feature in Windows Vista). He also has no access to email or instant messaging and he doesn't run as an administrator of the machine. In fact, parental controls in Windows Vista requires that the user you apply controls to is not running as an administrator. Email, phishing, and other social engineering attacks are definitely among the most prevalent attacks that home users experience today, and his machine has been locked down in these regards. ... Now, the comments have unfortunately been cited out of context implying that I said Windows Vista users shouldn't use antivirus. I want to be clear, most users will use some form of antivirus software, and that will be appropriate for their scenarios. In fact, Windows Security Center, a great feature in Windows Vista, specifically encourages the use of antivirus software." (Source:

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