The Redmond, Wash., software giant has
planned an online briefing for security firms on Thursday, a
company representative said late Wednesday in an e-mailed
statement. The meeting is to discuss how third-party
protective software can interact with the innards of 64-bit
versions of Windows Vista, the representative said.
In response to antitrust concerns from the European
Commission, Microsoft last week said third-party security
software will be able to access the kernel of 64-bit
versions of Vista and disable alerts sent out by the Windows
Security Center. Both capabilities had been requested by
security companies, but previously denied by Microsoft.
Symantec, McAfee and others had charged that Microsoft was
hurting competition and creating an unfair advantage for its
own products through the kernel protection and Windows
Security Center features.
Microsoft on Monday supplied security companies with the
technology to suppress Windows Security Center alerts. The
company, however, had not yet communicated about the kernel
protection features, called PatchGuard.
"We have not received anything at all from Microsoft
concerning PatchGuard," McAfee spokesman Siobhan MacDermott
said Tuesday. "We urge Microsoft to give security vendors
this access as quickly as possible and not wait until the
11th hour so that we can offer our customers the best
Symantec and Check Point Software Technologies also on
Tuesday said that the companies had not yet heard from
Microsoft on PatchGuard, even though the company had made
promises in the media and to the European Commission.
"Even though Microsoft has announced that they are going to
work with security vendors, that is all they have done,"
said Cris Paden, a Symantec spokesman. "We're in holding
In 64-bit versions of Vista, the kernel protection not only
locked out hackers but also prevented some security software
from running, security companies have said. They had asked
for a way to access the kernel, which Microsoft insisted
would hurt the security and stability of Windows. Microsoft
now says it will provide that access.
The Thursday meeting will discuss scheduling for development
of the technologies to work with the Vista kernel, Microsoft
said. These APIs, or application program interfaces, will
not be ready until after Microsoft releases Vista to PC
makers and CD factories, which is called release to
manufacturing, or RTM, the representative said.
That timing means that security companies won't be able to
ship certain products for 64-bit versions of Vista until
later. Also, the kernel access features won't exist in the
first release of the new operating system and will have to
be added in an update, such as a service pack.
"From McAfee's perspective, it is not at all acceptable for
Microsoft to wait until a service pack and not offer us
kernel access until after the launch of Vista," MacDermott
Vista, the long-awaited successor to Windows XP, is slated
to be available to large business users next month and the
general public in January. Microsoft has promoted Vista as
the most secure version of Windows yet.