Symantec, Adobe Complain Over Vista

It's no surprise that Symantec and Adobe are wary of Microsoft bundling its own security software and electronic document format in Windows Vista, but the companies had yet to lodge official complaints about the operating system until now.

According to a report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Adobe has told the European Commission that Microsoft should be barred from building into Vista competing software for reading and creating electronic documents. Adobe developed PDF and is the leading provider of software for the format.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has developed its own fixed-layout document standard known as XPS, or XML Paper Specification. Vista will have a new printing architecture based on XPS, and the operating system will also be able to natively render documents created in the format.

Microsoft previously got into hot water with Adobe regarding plans to add PDF export into Office 2007, which will instead be offered as a free downloadable add-on. Adobe now seems to be taking aim at XPS, asserting that with Microsoft including both reading and creation tools, sales of its PDF software could be negatively impacted.

The WSJ says that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer previously asked EU antitrust chief Neelie Kroes if the Commission wanted XPS removed from Vista, but received no response. It seems the EU has been focusing instead on Vista's security features, with a warning being issued earlier this month telling Microsoft not to shut out third parties.

Symantec claims that the features will do just that, giving precedence to Microsoft's own security offerings. Windows Defender, for example, will be integrated into Vista, and Microsoft recently launched its own all-in-one security suite known as Windows Live OneCare.

For its part, Microsoft says that if the EU requires changes to Vista's security components, it will delay the operating system's launch in Europe and potentially put customers at risk. Symantec denies such a claim, saying it simply wants to be able to replace Microsoft's Security Center with its own, like it could in the past.

In addition, Symantec is unhappy about a new feature called PatchGuard, which is designed to prevent malicious software such as rootkits from modifying critical system files in Windows Vista. The feature, however, also has the side effect of locking out security vendors that need such low-level kernel access to be able to detect and prevent security threats.

The European Commission isn't commenting on the specific requests, although Symantec plans to travel to Brussels next week to brief journalists on the issue. Microsoft has often used the press to present its case to the public, and now the Redmond company's competitors are doing the same.

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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