If you were looking for a reason to make the switch to Windows 7, you may have found it in form of Microsoft's latest Security Intelligence Report. The document, available for public download at Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report website, covers the state of Windows, application and web security in the year 2010.
Security interested users find lots of information in the report, including the most dominant threats and trends.
You will find information about infection rates for Microsoft operating systems somewhere in the middle of the report.
When you look at the average infection rate per thousand computers, you will notice that infection rates for more recently released operating systems are lower than for earlier ones.
Windows XP SP3 is showing an average infection rate of 15.9 computers per thousand. This figure drops to 7.5 on the most recent Vista version and 3.8 for Windows 7. The 64-bit editions of Vista and Windows 7 fare even better with 5.3 and 2.5 infections per thousand computers respectively.
32-bit Windows 7 computer systems are four times less likely to be infected with malicious software than Windows XP systems, and two times less likely than Windows Vista systems.
Comparison is even more favorable if you compare 64-bit editions. The 64-bit edition of Windows 7 is 6 times less likely to be infected than Windows XP.
Microsoft tries to explain the lower infection rate on 64-bit editions two-fold. One of the reasons may be that more tech savvy users pick the 64-bit edition of an operating system, the second that the Kernel Patch Protection feature of 64-bit Windows editions may contribute to that discrepancy as well.
Infection trends confirm that 32-bit editions of Windows 7 have consistently had the lowest infection rates of all Windows 32-bit client operating systems.
Trojans, worms, adware, password stealers and other potentially unwanted software made up the bulk of infections world wide. Microsoft found significant location differences.
Running a specific Windows operating system version does not necessarily mean that you will have a higher chance of infection, as that chance depends on the individual user. Experienced computer users can reduce the chance of infection significantly, both by expertise and experience, and security software that they have deployed on their system.
Still, if you are looking for an operating system for your parents, you may want to pick Windows 7 over a previous system.
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