Symantec: key Vista info withheld by MS

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Symantec has accused Microsoft of trying to gain an unfair advantage in the security market by withholding key information about its upcoming Vista operating system (OS).

The security giant claimed that Microsoft was holding back on releasing information on the Windows Defender spyware product that was to be included in Windows Vista.

It said that Microsoft was refusing to hand over the application programmable interfaces (APIs) for Windows Defender and claims that without these it was unable to ensure its own security products are compatible with the operating system.

The timing of the APIs release is crucial for Symantec as it is due to ship a Vista compatible Norton anti-virus product to PC makers this month.

Johan Brigden, senior vice president, Symantec for Europe, told the UK news service ZDNet: “Microsoft is affirmatively introducing bottlenecks to funnel customers to their products. It’s all about control and dominance. It is deliberately delaying giving us the APIs.”

In response a Microsoft representative denied Symantec’s claims and said the APIs had been made available on September 22.

“As a result of our ongoing dialogue with partners and our customers Microsoft decided in August this year to add the ability for any security software company to programmatically disable Windows Defender access through an API,” the company representative stated.

“Availability of the Defender APIs was announced to security partners on Friday, September 22, and we understand Symantec requested and received the go-ahead to develop on that API on Monday.”

According to the Cnet news service, Microsoft added the functionality to disable Windows Defender in Release Candidate 1 of Vista, which was released last month.

Microsoft claimed that there may have been some confusion within the industry because the accompanying information for developers — the software development kit or SDK, did not include details on this added functionality.

Adrien Robinson, business development manager at Microsoft told Cnet, “Two weeks after releasing RC1, we provided the follow up documentation, which was released out-of band; normally we release it with major milestones.”

“The confusion, I think, that people are having is that the functionality is not in the RC1 SDK and the reason for that is that we added it just before before RC1,” he added.

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