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Microsoft Agrees to Changes in Vista Security 318

An anonymous reader writes "Bowing to pressure from European antitrust regulators and rival security vendors, Microsoft has agreed to modify Windows Vista to better accommodate third-party security software makers. In a press conference Friday, Microsoft said it would configure Vista to let third-party anti-virus and other security software makers bypass 'PatchGuard,' a feature in 64-bit versions of Windows Vista designed to bar access to the Windows kernel. Microsoft said it would create an API to let third-party vendors access the kernel and to disable the Windows Security Center so that users would not be prompted by multiple alerts about operating system security. In addition, Redmond said it would modify the welcome screen presented to Vista users to include links to other security software other than Microsoft's own OneCare suite. From the article: 'It looks like Microsoft was really testing the waters here, sort of pushing the limits of antitrust and decided they probably couldn't cross that line just yet.'"
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Microsoft Agrees to Changes in Vista Security

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 14, 2006 @09:56AM (#16435667)
    It's only an author's surmise, but as I understand and interpret Microsoft's position, there is no line they will be able to cross ever while they are still a monopoly.
    Microsoft isn't a monopoly though. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from using any number of other x86 operating systems on their PC. Don't like Windows? Fine, install Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc. Hell, buy a Mac and use MacOS X. This myth that you're somehow forced to use Windows if you buy a PC is ridiculous. You know why people use Microsoft Windows? Because they like it. It's stable, friendly, and well supported from both the vendor and third-party software point of view. It has awesome support for a huge variety of hardware devices and it's very easy to use.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 14, 2006 @10:57AM (#16436129)

    Now with Vista, MS had decided to close off that access to all software except their commercial security apps

    This is false. Microsoft has stated that their own security apps will not be granted kernel access.

  • by Stradivarius ( 7490 ) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @02:19PM (#16437801)
    Your last paragraph identified the real issue, which is applications. Most people could care less what operating system they run. They just want to be able to use the computer in certain specific ways - write documents, play games, surf the web, etc. If people could get all their applications and not have to put up with all the Windows spyware and viruses, I bet they'd jump at alternatives. (Just look at the recent upswing in the popularity of Macs, despite the much smaller choice of software available on the Mac. ).

    The primary thing that keeps people from switching is the network effects associated with Microsoft's dominant/monopoly position. Since they have 90-something percent of the market, it's often not economically feasible for software companies to provide versions of their application for non-Windows platforms. That lack of applications (or data/format compatible applications) in turn prevents people from choosing alternative operating systems, thus growing the Windows user base more, and making switching even less feasible. It'a vicious cycle (or a wonderful one, if you're Microsoft).

    And in fact Microsoft does their best to reinforce that cycle. It's smart business strategy to lock-in your customers. IMO that's the largest reason why MS is always inventing proprietary APIs and formats to replace open standard ones (DirectX vs OpenGL, Microsoft's bastardized version of Kerberos authentication, IE-specific HTML/DOM extensions, XPS vs PDF, etc.). It makes it harder for software developers to port their applications to other platforms, and harder for users to switch. (Sometimes they actually make an improvement over the open standard. Sometimes they don't. But they make their own version nonetheless because people will use what's there, furthering the lock-in).

    That's why the move to Web services is a great thing for competition. It increasingly forces Microsoft to compete on the merits of their software rather than on the basis of their monopoly's network effects.
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @02:29PM (#16437861)
    Computer manufacturers are motivated to provide a product customers want to buy. The number of people that would buy machines with some flavor of Linux is very small. It would be foolish for computer manufacturers to make computers without Windows.

    Um, that's because Microsoft has OEM contracts in place that raise Windows license fees if companies ship competing software, even if it's simply provided as an option. Why do you think Dell barely advertises Linux? Yes, it would be foolish for OEMs to cross Microsoft because they risk having their licensing fees raised, or worse, their license revoked, which would be commercial suicide. And so Windows stays firmly entrenched on OEM pre-installations.

    True enough but you are forgetting that most people are getting what they want. Windows isn't simply being forced on them - they want Windows and don't want to try an alternate OS. "

    This myth needs to die. People don't "want" Windows; they simply use whatever is installed on their computer. They barely even know what version of Windows they're even running. That's why OEM contracts are the lifeblood for Microsoft, because almost all Windows sales come from OEM pre-installations.

    Again, people do not WANT Windows. Whatever starts up when they push the power button is what they'll use. Microsoft has spent decades using its power to negotiate itself onto that boot screen.

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