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The European Commission has hit back at suggestions it has got it in for Microsoft over security features built into the heavily-delayed Windows Vista.

In a letter to the Financial Times, competition commissioner Neelie Kroes protested: "I have seen it suggested that the Commission may seek to prevent Microsoft from improving the security of its operating system. This is categorically not the case.

"We do nevertheless seek to ensure that rival security software vendors...are able to compete on a level playing field."

It has been reported that sources within Microsoft are briefing that Dutchwoman Kroes is taking the dispute personally.

Kroes also rubbished an attempt by Redmond last week to link the anti-trust investigation to a study it sponsored trumpeting Windows' contribution to the EU economy.

"It would be wrong to imagine such a link," she wrote. "If jobs are created as a result of Vista's release, any such job creation would only be enhanced with the release of a version of Vista which allowed others to compete on the merits of their products."

Microsoft has also said it may have to delay the European release of Vista if it is forced to alter the security features. Given the OS' release date has already proven slippier than a greased hog, we doubt such PR posturing will bother the gravy train in Brussels. ®

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