EU Warns Microsoft About Vista Security Market

European Union officials warned Microsoft not to shut out rivals in the security software market.

European Union officials warned Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday not to shut out rivals in the security software market as the company plans to launch its Windows Vista operating system with built-in protection from hackers and malicious programs.

EU spokesman Jonathan Todd told reporters that the European Commission is "ready to give guidance to Microsoft" concerning Vista but added that it was up to the U.S. software maker "to accept and implement its responsibilities as a near monopolist to ensure full compliance" with EU competition rules.

Microsoft, meanwhile, warned EU regulators to avoid attempting to block the in-house security upgrades it is making to the long-delayed Windows upgrade now scheduled for release to companies in November and consumers in January.

"We are concerned that (regulators) might require the removal of some of the security features we've demonstrated," Erich Andersen, Microsoft's associate general counsel told reporters. "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."

Andersen told reporters the company was adding a more robust firewall in Vista than what's found in the current edition, Windows XP.

Todd said the Commission understands Microsoft's wish to make Vista more secure. But he added that the EU head office believes "computer security depends on diversity and innovation in the field of security software, (and) such diversity and innovation could be at risk if Microsoft was allowed to foreclose the existing competition in the security software markets."

He said that bundling its own security product as part of Vista, "its own dominant operating system ... would ultimately harm consumers through reduced choice and higher security risks."

Microsoft has threatened a delay in the launch of its next-generation Vista operating system in Europe because of the new standoff with EU regulators.

EU antitrust regulators said last week it was not up to them to give Microsoft a green light to launch its new desktop software in Europe after Microsoft complained that it could face delays unless the EU told it what it must do to avoid antitrust problems.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in March, pointing out possible issues with Vista's integrated Internet search, digital rights management tools used to protect copyrights and software that would rival Adobe Systems Inc.'s Portable Document Format, or PDF.

There is no formal investigation into Vista but Microsoft is still embroiled in a long-running legal challenge to the EU's 2004 antitrust order that found it broke competition law and fined it a record 497 million euros ($613 million).

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Sep 20, 2006 Christopher Bell Glossop U.K.

I don't get it (and I'm supposed to be European). It sounds like they (the EU) are saying "Naughty Microsoft! How dare you build a system with built in security tools!"
To which the only response is: "Doh!".

Fri, Sep 15, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I had a long winded comment and thought it was to much myself.
All I have to say is let Microsoft make there own SW and stay out of it. As long as they don't "block" other companies from the opportunity to enhance replace features built into to OS, then it's fair game. At the end of the day it's who makes a better product, and I sure don't think the EU knows how to deal with security risks.
A risk is a risk and whoever does the best and fastest job at dealing with them wins.

I know it's probable about money, but if I was Microsoft, I would rethink selling "There" products in Europe. Lets see them fine them for that since they seem to only care about other "Companies" rather than the consumer who spends to much for the OS as it is. (The less additional SW I need to buy the better, if I can)

Now if Microsoft would just release SW that was secure to start with, there wouldn't be any reason for all of the other stuff.

One should not have to buy additional products just because they chose to buy a Microsoft product.

My two cents.

Thu, Sep 14, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I like the security features in Vista and for the common user they are great. If a user want to user other tools to do the same thing they can and just disable the windows embeded one (firewall can be disabled, Windows defender can be disabled, There is not anti-virus built in but you can use windows live.

The European counsel is being ureasonable. If I was MS give them a stripped down version that is totally unsecure and then the the commission can use money from the first fine to pay for loses caused by the unsecure version.

Most users do not go looking for other products and before XP never had firewall, anti-virus or anti-piracy software. With Vista at least I know my parent computer will be more secure and they don't have to do much.

Wed, Sep 13, 2006 Jerry J Valley Ranch, Texas

Good thing 'calculator' and 'freecell' aren't new features in Vista, or the EU would be threatening MS over those too!!

Tue, Sep 12, 2006 Beoweolf Anonymous

The EU is very close to becoming a parody of its own founding premis, to encourage standards. It is on the verge of making itself look even more foolish than it actually is.

Makes you wonder if a "united" Europe is just an organ to condense and codify the worst of the nationalistic tendencies that were the reason the EU was supposed to cure.

Microsoft would be right to freeze deployment of Vista in Europe. It appears the congress of EU bureaucrats has decided that its Union should be protected; reserved for in-house innovation...only.

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