I'm no friend to Windows. I know the operating system too well to trust it. But, I did think that even though Windows is defective by design, you could keep it relatively safe by installing patches quickly and using anti-virus software religiously. I was wrong.
First, it turns out that one of Microsoft's latest Windows patches just flat out didn't work. Whoops!
This isn't the first time that this has happened. But, what really caught my attention this go-around was that at just about the same time the news broke that a flawed McAfee Antivirus update knocked out millions of Windows XP computers. Talk about sloppy quality assurance! How the heck can a Windows anti-virus company release an update that locks XP computers into an endless reboot cycle?
McAfee has since promised customers that they'll never ever make a mistake like that again. McAfee has also promised corporate customers that they'll make it up to them by offering them a "free one-year subscription to its automated security assessment service."
Let me repeat that. After knocking out the bulk of your PCs, McAfee wants to make it up to you by looking into your systems with their services? That's an offer I can do without.
The greater problem though is that, even if Microsoft and the anti-virus companies spent ten-times the money and time on securing Windows they still couldn't do it. When your foundation is built on sand instead of rock, there's only so much any amount of patching can do to keep a house solid.
No, if you really want a secure desktop you need either Linux or Mac OS X. Is either of these perfectly secure? No, no they're not. But, they are much more secure than Windows can ever be.
Give them a try. For a beginner's Linux, I can whole-heartily recommend the new Ubuntu 10.04. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can use this version of Ubuntu once it's installed. Or, you can just buy an Ubuntu-powered PC ready to go from Dell, system76, or several other companies.
Macs too expensive for your blood? Consider trying a Mac Mini. They don't cost that much and they're more than powerful to handle most ordinary desktop jobs even if they don't look anywhere near as cool as a MacBook Pro.
Either way you go, you'll get a computer that you won't need to be constantly fixing in the vain hope of keeping it secure.