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Microsoft has fallen foul of the European Commission yet again over plans for its Vista operating system.

The European Commission is concerned that the tech giant's plans to include certain security features in its new operating system goes against competition regulations, mainly that the included security features will lock out competitors from providing alternatives for consumers.

Microsoft has already hit back at the Commission's concerns in a statement that expressed the company's worries that European consumers would miss out on the added security features provided by Vista.

"One of our principal concerns is that European consumers have access to the same new security features in Windows Vista as everyone else," it said. "Security is a top concern for European consumers, and we hope the Commission will not require removal of these important features in Europe. We want to launch Windows Vista in a fully lawful manner, and we want to avoid regulatory decisions that could increase security risks for European consumers."

However, the Commission is worried that Microsoft's inclusion of such features may breach competition laws. Microsoft has gone head to head with the EU in recent times over what authorities deemed anti-competitive practices, and found itself subject to a large fine as a result. This time around, however, things appear to be a little friendlier. Analyst firm Ovum said that, from the outside at least, relations between Microsoft and the Commission on the issue appear to have remained amicable.

"However, no definite conclusions have been reached, or at least none that have been clearly communicated to the European marketplace," the analysts said in a statement. "As the launch date of Vista rapidly approaches, it is absurd that that there is still doubt over whether the product will be subject to regulatory intervention."

Ovum also pointed out that the low take-up of the version of Windows XP without Media Player is not exactly a ringing endorsement of any plans to exclude certain security related features from versions of Vista.

"A version of Vista that removes security-related functionality has the potential to be an even greater turkey," it said. "Security is a major concern for the European market and needs to be addressed on multiple different fronts. If the EU is going to ask Microsoft to remove security-related functionality then it needs to be very precise in its request and very clear why it is making the request. It has the potential to cause a major market disruption, with no benefit for the end-consumer whatsoever."

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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