EU Concerned About Vista Security

The war of words between Microsoft and the EU continued Tuesday, with the European Commission warning that Windows Vista's built-in security features should not shut third party vendors out of the market.

The warning came after Microsoft made a public statement on the matter, telling reporters that the EU should not attempt to block the security features, as the move would only put customers at risk and delay Vista's launch in Europe. Microsoft has often used the press to put pressure on the EU Commission.

"We are concerned that [regulators] might require the removal of some of the security features we've demonstrated," Microsoft associate general counsel Erich Andersen said. "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."

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EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said the Commission understands Microsoft position, but noted it is up to the company "to accept and implement its responsibilities as a near monopolist to ensure full compliance" with European antitrust laws.

"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," explained Todd.

Back in March, the EU expressed concern regarding Vista's built-in Internet search functions and new document features. In July, the Commission sent Microsoft a detailed list of concerns regarding Vista, to which Microsoft replied at the end of August. The company says it is currently waiting a response to that reply, and last week warned that any request for product changes could delay Vista's launch.

Microsoft's Andersen added that," One of our principal concerns is that European consumers have access to the same new security features in Windows Vista as everyone else."

Microsoft has had a tumultuous relationship with the European Union after being found guilty of violating antitrust laws in March 2004. The Commission long accused the company of not complying with the ruling, while Microsoft has responded by publicly chiding regulators for ignoring key information.

The company was fined an additional 280.5 million euros in July for continuing non-compliance, and the Commission threatened to double that number if Microsoft did not get its act in gear.

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