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Allchin backs away from Vista anti-virus claims

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Outgoing Windows development chief Jim Allchin has apologised for the confusion he created in comments taken to mean Vista was so secure it might be possible to run the software without any anti-virus installed.

Responding to questions from reporters about whether Vista would be more secure than Windows XP SP2, Allchin said his seven-year-old son runs a Vista PC (locked down with parental controls and no IM or email) without anti-virus protection.

The comments were taken to mean that Allchin reckoned that improved security features in Vista - such as Patchguard and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomisation, a feature that means the system kernel is loaded differently on each Vista machine - would make anti-virus protection obsolete.

Not so.

Allchin said his comments, which if true would decimate the software security market and make Microsoft's own OneCare service redundant, had been taken out of context and misinterpreted.

"After reading the transcript, I could certainly see that what I said wasn't as clear as it could have been, and I'm sorry for that. However, it is also clear from the transcript that I didn't say that users shouldn't run anti-virus software with Windows Vista! In fact, later in the call, I explicitly made this point again, because I had realised I wasn't as clear as I should have been," Allchin writes in a posting to the Windows Vista blog.

Allchin returns to the standard Microsoft line that even though XP Vista is the most secure operating system Redmond has ever produced, users would still need additional security software.

"Most users will use some form of anti-virus software, and that will be appropriate for their scenarios," he writes. ®

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