McAfee cries foul over Vista security features

McAfee executives have bad-mouthed Vista over its security features

The other big concern with Vista for McAfee lies in a new security interface called Windows Security Center (WSC). Microsoft will not allow this interface to be turned off, so McAfee and other third-party users can't install their own security-management consoles on Vista machines, executives said.

McAfee's argument is that third-party security products can better detect potential or existing security problems that Vista inherently can, and unless those can be surfaced through the interface, users will not be alerted to them, Viega said.

Some believe security vendors are crying foul over Vista because Microsoft's ability to control security features of the OS is a threat to their livelihood. Companies such as McAfee and Symantec have all but built their businesses on the fact that Windows is inherently insecure, and add-on security software is needed to protect it from intrusion.

"Historically, when Microsoft has gotten into a market, the number of competitors goes down," Wilcox said.

However, he said there is a legitimate concern, supported by precedence, that not only will vendors be pushed out of the market, but there will be less innovation in Windows security products and more problems will arise.

Wilcox cited Internet Explorer as an example of an area in which Microsoft beat competitors, but then did not innovate on the product until it faced competition once again.

"Microsoft won the browser war and for years abandoned the territory," Wilcox said.

If Microsoft successfully reduces the number of competitors by building security into Windows, it might also become lackadaisical about security improvements, thus opening the OS up to more attacks.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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