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Windows - where?

Lord Julus
VX-tasy [1]
August 1999

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Windows(C)(TM)(R)(ETC...) is something which seems to be making most of the people feel nausea. Why? I will try to explain this using my own feelings towards the thing.

I remember 1990, when I was in the 11th grade in high-school. It was then when the first 286s were penetrating the romanian market and my high-school was priviledged to have some. I remember playing nice games for those times like Barbarian and Sokoban. Also I recall my first lines in Turbo Pascal 5.0 and QuickBasic. Our main tool was Norton Commander and we didn't need anything else.

Then, one friend came with a few floppy disks and said to us: "Hey, I have this cool thing... Windows it's called. It's supposed to give you many facilities and stuff..." We said, deh, hell!, let's try it out. It was version 3.0.

And we installed the darn thing... At first sight it looked pretty ok, but, then again, pretty useless... A bunch of application we didn't need. A clock, a calendar, a notebook... All looking the same. Of course, it caught our eyes. All those colored icons, the animated stuff... But we didn't stop there...

I wrote a small tsr which was supposed to move the screen up and down two minutes after its launch. I started it under DOS and then enter Windows. After two minutes the whole Windows' screen started to shake. I understood then that Windows was nothing more than an alternative to a disk/application browser coming as an application over the operating system.

Nobody back then didn't even think about the mighty plans Microsoft had of overcoming the entire software industry... It came a few years later with the international launch on the market for Windows 95. Man, what publicity... what drums beaten for nothing more than a bunch of animated stuff having no other use than to do exactly what was doable before, but in a more "nice" environment. The mouse became the most important tool... But more important than that, for the first time Windows tried to become an operating system.

The try failed miserably. Even if Windows 95 tried to look like a pathetic try to imitate the Macintosh desktop it was more than obvious that still Windows 95 is a "something" sticking on the back of the good old Ms-Dos. I will not enter the technical details here, but check for example Gryio's article from 29A#3 about VxD calls.

Let's not even mention the fact that Windows 95 probably had the biggest number of beta releases than any other product.

Due to the huge ammount of bugs and the continous strange hangs experienced by Windows 95, Microsoft released the Windows 95 OSR2, also know by some people as Windows 96. Some bugs were fixed, other appeared.

Two years later and after another serie of buggy betas, Microsoft released what they said to be the last version of Windows based on Windows 95, named Windows 98.

It's true, Windows 98 has less problems than it's parents, but the concept of HTML desktop makes it worse than them. The HTML desktop looks exactly like the playground of some stupid children playing in sand... Of course, this is merely my humble opinion.

A complete other way got the other OS from Microsoft, called Windows NT. Well, this is more like what Windows was thought to be. Much more reliable, less hangs, more security and more speed. It's big disadvantage: the high price. This is not an OS to have home but at the company.

However, in 1999-2000 Microsoft planed to join the two products in what will soon appear as Windows 2000. Even if the market is full of betas of this product, I was not curious yet to get it and check it. From what other people said, it looks like a Windows NT with a Windows 98 layout.

The question we all are asking: where is it gonna reach and how will this way affect the virus authoring.

In my opinion, the Windows 2000 will soon become the most used OS all around. The win32 viral technique will face a big challenge then. Most of the win32 viruses work only under Win95/98 because of their leak of security. Windows 2000 will be harder to overcome, but not impossible. I also think that probably in a few years, Microsoft will drop completely the 16 bit applications under Windows and will move to only 32 bit. Also, I have a feeling that soon we shall see a new modification in the PE format, maybe even a new name. I think soon Microsoft will loose completely the NE format and the PE format will remain for the new format as NE was for PE.

What is most important for the virus author is too always be in touch with the latest news on the OS. For this one must visit pretty often the Microsoft site and download any new DDK or SDK uploaded.

Basically I think that in the following two years the most obvious enhancements for Windows will be first of all graphical and second of all based on Internet. Mostly e-mail clients will appear with more and more security, to avoid Internet worms. The browsers will go who knows were. But the virus writer should stay calm... Microsoft Corporation will continue to give us working material in the future as it did in the past. The more complicated the OS gets, the most holes will it have to use. The more advanced the low level programming gets, the more difficult will it be for viruses to be stoped.

Already the anti-virus industry is far beyond the virus scene. The AVs cannot hold against the win32 attack. It's maybe the peak of the virus activity, and all resides in the lameness of the Windows design. I understand making a "nice looking" OS, but not by loosing all the security. Unfortunately for the AV people, they cannot rely on using the undocumented ways because their programs must be trusted, while the viruses may basically use anything that comes in handy... And its much, so much...

So, as a platform for the Win32 System, the Microsoft Windows is and will still be a perfect place to unleash viruses. Hail, people!!

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