Microsoft contends that its partners should embrace the security features being added to its Vista operating system instead of complaining about them, but software makers including Symantec and McAfee said that the company's mandate for new product innovation only benefits its own interests.
At the crux of the dispute is Microsoft's contention that controversial security features included in Vista, its next-generation Windows OS, have been added merely to provide an adequate "baseline" of protection for users.
Meanwhile, its oldest and largest security software partners, including Symantec and McAfee, said that the tools have been designed to put their products at a disadvantage and give favor to rival technologies made by Microsoft.
When presented with the security companies' issues, Microsoft defends that it has taken the opportunity with Vista to blend much needed security protection into Windows, which has long been the primary target of virus writers and other hackers.
The features may make it harder for its partners to build new products that work with Vista, but the addition of security features is an evolutionary development demanded by users' need for onboard OS protection, Microsoft leaders said.
Rather than protesting that its work has made new product development more difficult, Symantec and McAfee need to think of new ways to build their applications to build off of innovations offered in Vista, which is due out in November 2006, said Ben Fathi, corporate vice president of the Microsoft's Security Technology Unit.
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