Charlie Miller, a security researcher, noticed a bug in iOS a while ago that would allow apps to run unsigned code in apps. All code in apps on the App Store has to be signed or approved by Apple to ensure that it is safe for the device however Miller found a way round this in iOS 4.3 that allowed him to put dangerous code into any app. He even managed to develop an app that would fetch and run unapproved code allowing the app to do things that Apple hadn’t said it could do.
Clearly if the bug had been found by someone that wasn’t a security researcher it could have been incredibly dangerous as hackers could have used it to exploit iPhones across the world to obtain users’ credit or even credentials. The iPhone was designed to be secure and so it would clearly be a problem if people were able to do this.
Apple removed Miller’s developer license because he had (technically) broken the license agreement by releasing the app. It is perfectly legal for them to do so because he did break the law with the app, however it would probably have been best if Miller had tested the bug before alerting Apple so that they could deal with it internally.
A similar procedure is adopted by Google and Mozilla who frequently offer bounties to developers that are able to find bugs in their open-source software. If Miller had acted in this way it would have been reasonable for Apple to offer a bounty, but because he broke the developer agreement it makes sense he was kicked off.
Microsoft do seem to have a worrying trend in their Windows products:
- Windows 95 was relatively successful
- But Windows 98 was far more successful
- (Won’t mention Windows 2000 because it was only around for a year and was only used by businesses)
- Windows ME wasn’t successful
- Windows XP was Microsoft’s most successful OS
- Windows Vista was a disaster
- Windows 7 has been really successful
- Windows 8?
To put it simply, Microsoft tends to plan out very big releases of Windows by adding hundreds of new ‘exciting’ features, Vista was an example of this. However, these big new features aren’t received well and so Microsoft is left to tidy everything up and release a polished version of what they had been working on before. It’s almost a ‘practice makes perfect’ approach. I do worry that Windows 8 is in the position to not be very successful because Microsoft are throwing up hundreds of new features and basically turning the whole thing upside down and taking the ‘Windows’ out of it and replacing them with ‘Apps’. A nice metaphor for apps is a house; a house with Windows allows the new in, allows you to see and explore the outside world, whereas take the Windows out and replace them with apps and you are blocked off from a whole world of potential.
My major concern about Windows 8 isn’t really that they are messing up the UI completely, but one sentence in the blog post that was posted: ‘compatibility with Windows 7 Logo PCs will continue’. This means that Windows 8 will most likely be compatible not only with Windows 7 machines, but also Windows Vista machines, because the requirements were almost identical. Considering that Windows Vista capable PCs began to be released in 2006, Windows 8 may well be able to run on six year old – potentially 32-bit – PCs. Consider that Windows 8 will need to run on tablets, this sort of makes sense.
Another concern about Windows 8 is that it is being marketed for touch quite a lot – the interface seems to have a lot to do with tablets and it is known that it will be running on ARM chips. However, this isn’t the first version of Windows to have touch support. Every version since Windows XP has marketed itself as being touch-friendly, and I’m getting a little bored of it. Microsoft still hasn’t got touch right in ten years.