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Security rivals tried to 'castrate' Vista - Gates

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Despite antitrust pressures and complaints from competitors, Microsoft will be able to ship Vista without dropping features, according to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. Gates told reporters attending Microsoft's TechEd conference in Barcelona that the software giant had discussed features in the next version of its operating system "every step of the way".

Microsoft is, of course, no stranger to regulatory scrutiny. In the case of Vista the main regulatory concerns have stemmed from the European prompted, in part, by security rivals such as Symantec, which sent representatives to Brussels to air its concerns over security features in the forthcoming OS and McAfee, which placed ads in the Financial Times highlighting similar concerns over the same issue.

Gates accused Microsoft partners turned rival in consumer security of trying to stymie innovation accusing them of trying to get regulators to "castrate" 1 Vista, the Wall Street Journal reports. Gates, whose comments came as Microsoft released the final version of Vista to manufacturers, insisted the main innovations in Vista including improvements to the security of Windows and performance improvements, remain in place. "No [antitrust regulators] insisted security features come out of Vista," Gates said.

Redmond is offering Windows Defender (the fruits of the Giant anti-spyware acquisition in 2004) as a component of Vista or as a download at no additional cost. Other security improvements include BitLocker Drive Encryption and anti-phishing technology in IE7. Most of the complaints from security vendors have centered around Kernel Patch Protection, designed to defend against rootkits and due to ship with the 64bit version of the OS. The feature was actually debuted with 64bit versions of XP and Win 2003 but throughout the later stages of the development process a number of security vendors complained the feature made it difficult for them to plug in third-party anti-malware and intrusion prevention technologies.

Security rivals such as Symantec and McAfee accused Microsoft of abusing its dominant market position to impede their development efforts while other vendors (such as Kaspersky and Sophos) said they had no such problem.

Bundling software technologies with Windows has created antitrust problems for Microsoft in the past. In 2004, EU regulators slapped a $634.4m fine in Microsoft over the inclusion of Windows Media Player as a core component of the OS, among other issues. ®

Bootnote

1 If cutting off the security features of Vista would "castrate" Windows does that means Kernel Patch Protection and Windows Defender are bollocks? We ought to be told.

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