It's time to start issuing PC licenses

If you think I'm about to make fun of Windows users because one in three of them haven't patched their PCs for a known security hole, which has been used by the Conficker worm to infect more than a million Windows PC in 24-hours, you'd be wrong. I'm also not going to make fun of Ubuntu Linux, because one Dell user couldn't get Linux to connect to the Internet or run a word processor.

No, what I think both situations show is that the most common problem with PC today is between the monitor and the keyboard, aka Joe User.

Joe, you see, is dumb. You'd think that in the 21st century with no one under the age of 40 able to remember when there were no PCs and no one under the age of 30 who can recall when there was no Web, that we'd be over basic computer illiteracy. You'd be wrong.

While Windows is insecure by design, you can stop most of its security problems just by patching it on a regular basis and using an anti-viral program. So simple even a chimp could do it right? Well maybe a chimp could, but not Joe User.

No matter how many times people are told to "Patch your computer," or "use anti-virus software," many of them don't. The result? According to MessageLabs, a security company, about 90% of all spam came from botnets.

Botnets, in turn, live on unprotected Windows PCs. In fact, by December 1st, we already knew that Conficker was being used to build botnets. So, several months after the problem was fixed, and six weeks after we knew a botnet was being built around this security hole, more than a third of Windows PCs were still wide open for attack. Amazing isn't it?

On the Linux side, we have a college student who was unable to manage even the basics of PC 101. She couldn't get an Internet connection up or open a word processor.

What both these cases have in common is that in 2008 we still have tens of millions of PC users who can't master even the basics of using a computer.

So, my modest suggestion is it's time to start licensing computer users. If you can't show that you're able to at least update your computer and use its software's basic functions, you're not allowed to play on the Internet.

I'm serious. Idiotic Windows users are costing everyone who uses the Internet time, trouble and money by enabling it to be flooded with malware and spam. Dumb users, on all operating systems, are showing that they're incapable of even using their PCs. So, why should they be allowed to run one?

Come on, we don't let drunks behind the wheel of a car, why should we let idiots on the Internet? Isn't it time we required at least Internet users to show that they have some kind of clue?

I'm not asking for people to show that they really understand their PC, operating system, or applications. I just want them to show that they know how to start, run, and stop their PCs. I don't think that's too much to ask for.

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