Controversy Surrounds Upcoming Vista Release
Microsoft's decision to ship its free anti-spyware program in late October opened newly healed wounds between the software giant and the security industry.
Just two weeks earlier, Microsoft smoothed things over with security vendors, promising to make changes to its upcoming, controversial Vista operating system. It decided to grant access to the kernel, the central core of its 64-bit versions of Windows Vista, and make it possible to disable certain parts of the Security Center when a third-party security console is installed.
This came after two of the largest vendors in the Window security tool aftermarket, Symantec and McAfee, had gone public with their concerns. McAfee went as far as publishing a full-page ad in the Financial Times slamming Microsoft for locking out third-party security firms from its built-in security system for Vista, and accusing the software giant of creating an unfair advantage for its own products.
Anti-trust concerns were also brought forth by the European Commission, who became involved in the debate after fining Microsoft 497 million Euros back in 2004 for anti-competitive behavior.
Microsoft says its PatchGuard technology was designed to prevent kernel attacks on Vista, and until recently, the company insisted any access from third-parties to the kernel would hurt the stability and security of Windows.
Microsoft changed its tune on October 13th issuing the following statement, "We have committed to create a new set of APIs that will enable third-party security products to access the Windows kernel in a secure manner."
According to a Gartner research analyst the whole PatchGuard issue will not likely be resolved until sometime in 2008. "These APIs do not yet exist, and the changes will require changes to the 64-bit Windows kernel that will not be complete in time for the initial release of Vista," writes Neil MacDonald.
Microsoft has also said it will provide security vendors with a way to disable alerts sent out by the Windows Security Center if their third-party protective software is installed.
"If Microsoft follows through on these promises, it is a step in the right direction," says Lavasoft CEO Ann-Christine Åkerlund. "Customers need to be able to choose what security solution is best for them personally."
Vista is the much-anticipated, long-awaited successor to Windows XP. It is scheduled for release to big business in November and the general public in January.