McAfee: MS Failing to Provide Code

McAfee said Wednesday that Microsoft has failed to keep its promises, and has not delivered the necessary code and instructions to access the core of the Windows Vista operating system. Microsoft promised the European Commission it would do so last week.

The company is the second in as many days to claim Microsoft is not providing the APIs needed by its security partners. On Tuesday, Sunbelt Software called the company's announcement about sharing APIs was a "red herring" to fool the press.

After taking a very hands-on approach in enforcement, the EU Commission has now stepped back, saying it is now the responsibility of the companies to decide whether Microsoft is in compliance. From their public statements, it would seem many believe the Redmond company is not.

The issue surrounds what APIs are actually being provided. Microsoft said Monday it would allow for third party security companies to stop Microsoft's own security alerts in favor of their own. However, McAfee and others want access to the kernel in the 64-bit version of Vista.

A new feature called PatchGuard prevents code being added into the Windows kernel, which affects the way some security companies protect the operating system. Microsoft says the feature was designed to ensure customer security, and developers don't need the ability to patch the kernel.

But Symantec and Sunbelt say hackers will break PatchGuard, leaving customers exposed because security vendors can't properly protect them. McAfee claims Microsoft has not cooperated with security provides on the changes in Vista.

While some type of code was made available on Monday, it was in the form of a document on Windows Security Center. McAfee scientists didn't fully understand it, and placed calls to Microsoft to ask questions. To date, those calls have not been returned.

"In accordance with the commitments made last week, on Monday October 16th, at 6 a.m. Microsoft supplied the Windows Security Centre APIs for alerts to all our security partners," Stephen Toulouse, senior product manager for Microsoft's Security Technology Unit told BetaNews.

"We’re not aware of further questions from McAfee specifically regarding this communication but wish to make clear we are available to clarify the use of the API’s through the channels we have provided to security vendors, such as the Microsoft Security Response Alliance."

Toulouse added: "We are pleased to note that there will be plenty of third party security solutions for our customers on Windows Vista, and even today ISV’s such as Trend Micro, Computer Associates, and F-secure are providing customers with Windows Vista ready solutions for the pre-release versions of the product."

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