Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Windows Vista – friend or foe?

It seems you can’t open a newspaper or magazine without reading something about Microsoft Vista - in fact, it seems like the name itself was prescient - we are seeing a veritable vista of articles about Vista. As a security solutions vendor focused on Microsoft technologies, we have publicly expressed our opinion about the firewall and kernel patch protection issues associated with Vista in previous postings. This time, we thought we would take a look at Microsoft’s and Agnitum’s business interests - where they differ, and where they converge.

In a nod to Microsoft’s undeniable marketing prowess, we’ve decided to address these as the below “five Ps” (anyone who has ever studied marketing knows that the core of marketing theory is built around a concept called the “four Ps” - but ours are a little different from the originals).

1. Price

A complete personal user license for Vista is priced at $199. If you’re upgrading from a previous version, that price comes down to $99.95. But of course the price of the operating system is just the beginning. Most people will also need to upgrade their hardware (or buy a whole new PC). For a short period (which ended last month) some users were able to get an “Express Upgrade” from their hardware vendor, but that is no longer an option. Of course, like Microsoft, Outpost wants to keep its customers (and keep its customers happy), that’s why we provide ongoing upgrade subscriptions. Unlike Microsoft, we don’t ask our customers to spend more than the advertised price of the subscription.

2. Pitch

How do you decide it’s time to abandon the tried and true XP and move to Vista? At this time, with relatively few Vista-compatible products on the market - at least Vista-compatible products that have been thoroughly tested - you’re unlikely to be tempted by exciting new applications available only for that platform. However, as noted earlier, the media is writing about Vista constantly, so the feeling is bound to grow in the user community that this is a technology one must have, rather than one that would be nice to have. And there are other messages coming through other channels that are designed to influence your buying timetable. No doubt about it, the Microsoft marketing machine is a force to be reckoned with. Very few software companies (and Agnitum is not one of them) have the luxury of spending this much marketing money to maintain or increase market share.

3. PRESSure

Of course, as soon as Vista shipped, every software vendor was being asked when their products would be Vista-compatible. This PRESSure (and yes, much of it comes from the press) is particularly felt by us security vendors, since Vista purports to be the most secure version of Windows yet. Which in turn means it is harder than ever for third party security vendors to ensure that their products are fully compatible with Vista over the long term. That’s why we are spending so much time testing and debugging our Vista-compatible products - we don’t want to deliver something that works now, but will break when Vista security is patched (as we know it will be - and long before the first service pack comes out).

4. Protection

Many third-party vulnerability monitoring sites and services such as Secunia’s reports are already reporting multiple unpatched vulnerabilities in Vista and problems with the included firewall and other “security” measures. Although Vista is significantly less vulnerable than XP, it’s important to remember that operating systems are designed to do many different things, whereas a company like Agnitum produces products designed to do one thing - protect Windows PCs. We admit to being on the side of the “best of breed” advocates, rather than the “good enough” crowd when it comes to system security.

5. Porting

We cheated a bit with this heading, as porting is usually used to describe moving code between operating systems and we want to talk about people moving between operating systems. But we couldn’t think of a synonym for migration that started with ‘p’ …

As Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, put it: “I'm really excited about how enthusiastic everybody is about Vista. But people have to understand that some of the revenue forecasts I've seen out there for Windows Vista in fiscal year 2008 are overly aggressive." Third-party opinion seems to support that view. Here are a couple of excerpts from related surveys:

“According to a survey by Boca Raton, Fla.-based Amplitude Research conducted on behalf of Albuquerque, N.M.-based security firm VanDyke Software, more than half of respondents said they have no plans to deploy Vista when it comes out, despite all of the security improvements that Microsoft says will be baked into the operating system”. (SearchCIO.com)

Gartner research indicates “that Vista will be running on less than 10 percent of PCs in the installed base by the end of 2007, rising to 29.3 percent in 2008, 50 percent in 2009 and 67.7 percent by the end of 2010”.

We also conducted our own survey on migration intentions among our user base and will post the results here shortly - we don’t expect the results to differ much from other results.

And what does all of this tell us? It tells us that
  • Microsoft is a very effective marketer
  • Users welcome the concept of a more secure operating system, but many are waiting for proof before they spend money on the necessary new or upgraded hardware
  • There is no rush to create Vista-compatible versions of software, because customers choose the applications they want to run before they choose the platforms they want to run those applications on.
To that end, we will release Outpost Firewall Pro and Outpost Security Suite Pro for Vista later this year after it has been fully tested and debugged, both in our labs and by our loyal band of beta testers. (To join the Agnitum Vista beta testers’ team, click here).

Mikhail Penkovsky

Global Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Agnitum Ltd.


Anonymous said...

What rubbish!

Using 'There is no rush to create Vista-compatible versions of software, because customers choose the applications they want to run before they choose the platforms they want to run those applications on' as an excuse for incompetence/complacency and lack of customer care for your customers. You should have your Firewall vista compliant by now. You have had since Late November RTM and it is now mid April! You are one of the Few (Minority) companies that are lagging in producing software that works on Vista. It really is time to stop making with the excuses and progressing with development!

Agnitum BLOG said...

Well, here's the "majority". If you prove that any of the products mentioned there provides the same level of proactive defence and passes an equal number of leaktests as Outpost does with its XP-version and will do with its Vista-version in the near future, then you are entitled to critisize.

Pavel Goryakin
Agnitum Ltd.

Anonymous said...

Whilst it is currently not possible for me to prove either way (due to no published results I can find) the levels of protection for Vista compatible versions, from experience the following work well on Vista - ESET Smart Security (Beta), Kaspersky (RC), Trend Micro (RC).

Both Kaspersky and Trend also scored higher than Outpost within this published results http://www.matousec.com/projects/windows-personal-firewall-analysis/leak-tests-results.php

Don't get me wrong, I like Outpost and used it all the time whilst using XP. I am eagerly awaiting the Vista Version so I once again can use it and recommend it within my IT circles.

Agnitum BLOG said...

In my opinion, Matousek's data should be taken with a pinch of sault. No vendor is perfect including Agnitum, the point is that you can't talk abruptly about "incompetence/complacency" in relation to any company. E-security solutions for XP and Vista are very much different. One can't just port XP work-outs to a Vista version. Our strategy has been to develop a good-quality XP Security Suite followed by a good-quality Vista Suite and firewall. Improved performance is worthy the time.

Pavel Goryakin
Agnitum Ltd.

Anonymous said...

Когда примерно появиться vista-совместимая версия?

Anonymous said...

I don't think ignoring Vista customers or talking down the number of adopters of the new windows version is viable. I bought Outpost a year ago and just refreshed my support program. I'm also on Vista already. If you think you don't lose customers without a Vista version you are wrong.

Agnitum BLOG said...

Once again about Vista-compatibility: Agnitum plans to release the compatible version this autumn, a primary beta must be avaialble by the summer.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why Agnitum does not (cannot?!) make a Vista version?
I am a Agnitum Beta Tester and does have 3 Computers. 1 has Xp installed and 2 others have Vista OS on them. I never use the one which has XP and Agnitum. It is not Agnitum which makes me to use my OS.
I am really waiting and counting night and day to see a Vista compatible version. But as I guess, if Agnitum wants to develop a Vista version, they have to build the outpost from scratch, else they could develop it even when Vista was in earlier Beta testing period. But what they did? Develop a NEW version for XP?
oh no, it doesn't seem good here.

len said...

maybe it is time to teach ol billy a lesson or two. like, IGNORE the silly 'new & improved' mess that will mean we all must purchase not only THAT sistema, we now must get new everything else.

i have tax/ payroll clients who use juno. juno no longer works with vista. they have a pc -new- that is basically worthless unless i can rip the vista off it and get an xp or 2000 cheaply to install on it.

then comes the 'migrate' from the article and mosey stuff from the OLD one to the NEW one.

a pox on vista. bloated like the mac ads. and i do NOT like macs at all.

west coast gramps

Anonymous said...

What a cop out....!!!

Agnitum BLOG said...

Not quite so. Agnitum has been engaged in two main currents of development:

1) maintaning good XP product line, integrating components in the security suite;

2) building Vista-compatible Outpost nearly "from scratch" (you're right here) as Vista-related security solutions are completely different in architecture.

"Pox on vista?" :) As long as you are psychologically forced to do something, you'll resist. Windows Vista is a great system, a technological and marketing accomplishment of Microsoft. But it has shown itself as imperfect so far, with various vulnerabilities that need months of consistent work on Microsoft's side. So what's the use rushing to a shop right now?

Anonymous said...

It seems that many people are beginning to realize just how bad/unimpressive Vista really is. The most telling sign is that many are starting to call Vista, "Windows ME2."

Anonymous said...

I have no choice. My laptop went up in flames when the powersource suddenly shorted. After long and honorable service my XP is dead. So I am having a computer built. Why? I shopped and hear "And Windows Vista" and they heard "I don't do Vista" I am putting Linux on the new computer. When the wife buys hers we are putting Linux on her computer. Our back up is now a used Mac.

Gates blew this one. We won't be back and I have been working with his software since DOS 1.0. I am tired of being yanked around and told I am being "improved" I want some control and I am getting it. I am going Linux after a LOT of consideration. I do know it will take an act of congress to get me to go back to Windows anything.

People hate this software but there are always those starry eyed ones who say "BUT this is great." Yeah.. right.

Anonymous said...

You say "In my opinion, Matousek's data should be taken with a pinch of sault" then you fix some of the bugs he reported to you.. I wonder who I believe! Do you possess the level of skill to be able to find such bugs.. if not who cares about your opinion? If you do have the same level of skill then you wouldn't have the probs in the firewall in the first place.

Whats better? paying him the money to let you know the gaping security holes or dismissing him and letting him sell the exploits to hackers? we dont care that he charges you for the info or what rules he adheres to within the security industry.. your customers only care that the holes are fixed, and that should be your number one priority FULL STOP!

Agnitum BLOG said...

First of all, no comparatives are 100 % objective. One can always tune the testing conditions to put this or that product in a favorable position. Matousek is one of the very few professional testers of security products, that's for sure. But... nobody can be completely impartial. Besides, if you manage to show me some software that doesn't reveal any bugs at all (apparent or concealed), I'll retire from the industry.

Pavel Goryakin
Agnitum Ltd.

Mr, An OutPost User said...

Pleased to see The Agnitum attitude torwards Vista support.
I suggest, when a Vendor supports their software and stands by it, maybe it's time for Third party app vendors to consider it!!
I ask, why should 3rd party app vendors, like Agnitum, point out shortcomings & effectively BetaTest, Like the other vunerable users who have been enticed?
Also, why should Third Party Vendors Join in the backscratching commercial ping pong with another Vendor. I like to see vendors stand by therir OWN product, not look for other developers to shore them up.
I recall the days when, follwing the 98 release & the courting of the BIOS vendors, suddenly, & for no apparent reason, 95 was not stable with subsequent BIOS releases.
"Well struggling to Be"

Mr, An Outpost User said...

Just a thought, & comment I leave with customers I deal with.
When you have monoplised the OS market for well over a decade & had the ?000000,000000,00000's of dollars to invest in R & D, & the best you can come up with is Vesta, oops sorry, Vista, (I confused it with the boil in the bag ready meals), the you are entitled to question other vendors who try their best to offer a solid product & use profit in R&D.
I have not renewed my Outpost for a while, so I am NOT an Agnitum patsy. But, compared to other software that I use myself, & some that I supply to customers, (some of which is mega bucks). Critisising the integrity of Agnitum is absolutely unhinged.
NOTE - I have some VERY intersting support logs from other well known thrird party vendors? (using the term "support" VERY loosly)!!
So, when Agnitum describe reasons for not having a Vista Ready version, and the rest of the Business market still seem to be INSISTING on previous OS's for their new buys, I'd take it as read & sit down & accept who has made the mistake!!

Hirudin said...

Hmmm... I'm on Vista right now. It's fine. I'm not an uber 1337 HaXoR or anything, but I consider myself a power user. Sure, I've had a couple problems (I had problems with XP too, right up to the end).

Anyway, Vista is here, it's been here, get with the program(ming)! The fact that "I'm running Vista right now" wasn't a choice in your "poll" speaks volumes about your true intentions, Agnitum. Also, was it a surprise that Outpost Firewall users (that CAN'T USE VISTA with their firewall of choice) don't plan to upgrade to Vista any time soon? Why don't you conduct your next poll on distrowatch.com?

I've have 3 3-year licenses that are going to waste. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

I don't consider fair that you attack agnitum so much because there is no vista version yet.

Outpost is just the best firewall i have ever found (and i was an unconditional fan of Zonealarm Pro until i found outpost) and i feel much more secure with XP and outpost pro than upgrading to Vista and not having Outpost. The only minor but is that the antispyware engine doesn't detect too much threats, but i purchased it as a firewall, not as an antispyware and i use nod32 in combination with outpost and that makes a very good combination.

Also, microsoft doesn't mark my tempo, i mark my own tempo, i will use Vista when i purchase a new computer and therefore Vista comes already installed there, but now i don't need a new computer and i would not purchase a new one until Outpost was already available in Vista.

And i'm pretty sure that when they have a good version for vista, they will release it. they have been doing a great job with outpost for XP, so why don't you wait and let them time to release another wonderful version for Vista?

I am very happy with this software, so i can't say anything but good words about agnitum and if you are happy too with outpost, you should support them instead of criticizing them.

Agnitum BLOG said...

Thank you for both critisism and support! We're doing our best to come up with a good Vista-compatible product as soon as possible. Meanwhile, right today we'll announce good news for users. Please, check our next posts.

Pavel Goryakin
Agnitum Ltd.

Visa user said...

I am using Vista for about 2 months now on my main computer as well as my laptop. I've got a family license of Outpost Pro and have about 2.5 years of my license period left.

Now, I'm seriously wondering, if a Vista compatible version comes out in autumn (e.g. September), I have effectively lost half a year of my license period. Will Agnitum provide those users with some sort of compensation, e.g. by giving us half a year of license extension?

Agnitum BLOG said...

Dear Visa User, we're really sorry you had to face this inconvenience. However, we've never concealed that the current version of Outpost isn't yet Vista-compatible and nor have we hidden the real time frames of launching a Vista version. We're now doing our best to provide a public beta of Outpost Firewall Pro for Vista this summer.

Anonymous said...

I went Vista on the day it was released and have been happy with it ever since.

The only part I do not like is the UAC that I disabled.

It's a great OS.