I like the Windows platform. It's highly functional, a plethora of software is available to help me accomplish nearly anything I want with a computer, and I've been using it for so long that it's like riding a bike--it just happens almost automatically.

But, as with most things in this world, Windows does have its annoyances, and there is one particular annoyance that bothers me more than most other annoyances: malware.

Recently, security solution vendor McAfee said that back in September 2004, it added the 100,000th threat to its database. It took 18 years for the company to reach that milestone. Somewhat shockingly, it took fewer than two years for the database to double in size. Between September 2004 and July 2006, the company added another 100,000 threats to its database, effectively expanding it to 200,000 threats. That's a phenomenal growth rate, and it doesn't appear to be slowing. McAfee said that if current trends continue, the company will surpass 400,000 threats in its database before the end of 2008.

Another security solution provider, Sophos, recently released a report that gives an overview of trends in cyber crime over the past six months. The top 10 malware programs on their list are all variants with familiar names, such as Sober, Netsky, Mytob, Bagle, Zafi, and Nyxem. One notable point from the report is that so far in 2006, the majority of new malware programs are some form of Trojan horse and all the new Trojans affect Windows platforms.

The most interesting point about Sophos's report, in my opinion, is that it recommends that home computer users switch to Mac OS X. "\[Intruders\] seem happy to primarily target Windows users and not spread their wings to other platforms. It seems likely that Macs will continue to be the safer place for computer users for some time to come, something that home users may wish to consider if they're deliberating about the next computer they should purchase," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

http://sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2006/07/securityreportmid2006.html

Of course that comment sparked plenty of debate, some of which took place over at Slashdot (visit the URL below for a summary). As expected, opinions and perspectives vary.

http://backslash.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/06/1821235

I find Mac OS X incredibly appealing not only because the OS is a much less interesting target to intruders than Windows (for now anyway) but also because it's a highly functional desktop platform. Apple plans to unveil the next generation of Mac OS X, code-named Leopard, in early August at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the new OS can do.

When it comes time for me to upgrade my system to Windows Vista and use it full time, I'll definitely need to buy new hardware. I'm considering buying Apple's new Intel-based hardware and building a dual-boot system that runs both Mac OS X and Windows Vista. I wonder if any of you have thoughts about doing something similar. Write and let me know.