Microsoft Struggles with Role as Top Hacker Target

New software, such as Windows Server 2003, slated for release in April, should be more hacker-proof than any other version, Microsoft's Steve Lipner said, just as Windows XP is considered Microsoft's most stable PC operating system yet.

As the company whose software runs more than 90 percent of all personal computers, Microsoft Corp is the constant target of hackers -- and these days, of irate network administrators.

Almost every major Internet attack in recent years -- computer "worms" and other bugs with names such as Slammer, Code Red and Nimda -- was directed at servers using Microsoft's software.

Among hackers, the company's products are favorite targets not just because they're so widely used, but also because they're known to have flaws.

Last year, the software giant issued more than 70 "patches" for network administrators and everyday computer users to download and install. So far this year it has issued eight of the cumbersome patches, including two early last week.

Microsoft's security problems are so bad that company Chairman Bill Gates in January 2002 issued a rare corporate directive to make what he calls "Trustworthy Computing" the company's primary focus. Among other steps, Microsoft shifted software designers from developing new products to combing through the code of existing software for flaws and bugs.

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