Given that Microsoft products appear to be full of security holes, more and more thought is being given to migrating to other platforms. However, this has problems of its own. Macs are expensive, and Linux isn’t quite ready as a desktop platform.
This leaves a lot of people in limbo — they need to minimize Windows security problems as much as they can without abandoning Windows entirely. There may be Windows-only applications they need, or they make have to connect to a Windows network, etc.
The question then, is, if you can’t leave Microsoft entirely, does leaving it in varying degrees help make you more secure?
I ask because I’m slowing leaving the Microsoft platform. It wasn’t explicitly planned, but every day, I find less and less use for Microsoft products. Currently, Firebird is my browser of choice, and Mozilla Mail is my email client. I still have to use Outlook for work, but I’m slowly migrating my users off the Exchange server and going to client-based SMTP accounts, so Outlook’s days are numbered (perversely, I may keep it around just for NewsGator).
I had been maintaining a Web site in FrontPage, but that’s not going to last either. I’m moving the site to a Linux server, and there are other, better options. I do image editing in IrfanView and Photoshop Elements, and MySQL is my server database platform. I still use Access for some things (very handy for printing reports from a linked SQL or MySQL server), but I’ve heard FileMaker is even better and I have a copy of Crystal Reports 7 sitting around that I can use.
We have a Windows network, but you can replace the domain controller with Linux. Samba will act as a PDC, and Suse has released a new version of Linux designed specifically to take the place of a Windows workgroup server.
So, back to my question. Say I move off Microsoft applications entirely, but I keep Windows XP Pro as my operating system. So, Windows still forms the walls of the house, but I’ve decorated it completely with non-Microsoft applications. Am I better off? Does the lack of Microsoft applications make me safer? Or does the existence of Windows as the underlying operating system make any extra security this would provide irrelevant?