Microsoft Tries to Settle
Objections to Its Security and Welcome Centers"> The Security Center in Vista is meant to be a permanent, standard user interface through which users can interact with security software. APIs are provided for basic functions like updating, checking to see if the product is up-to-date and performing a scan. And the Security Center issues alerts to the user, as when the product is out of date, for instance. Microsoft has agreed to change Security Center so that if a third-party product is installed and issuing an alert, Security Center will not issue that alert. So the company is agreeing to solve the competing alerts issue, but it wont take the Vista Security Center down in the presence of third-party products.Even though Microsoft says the EU didnt bring it up, the company agreed to put in a nearby link to security product information from other vendors. A similar link exists in the Security Center: If, for instance, you dont have anti-virus software installed, you get taken to a page on microsoft.com that has information on available products. Currently only Trend Micro shows up for Vista, but for Windows XP numerous third parties are listed and free trial versions provided. More importantly, the configuration of the Welcome Center is under the control of OEMs, from whom almost all users get their copies of Windows. They can remove the references to Microsofts products and make exclusive deals to promote other companies products. Anyone who buys (or, more likely, steals) their own Windows copy in order to install it on a home PC is savvy enough to know that its possible to buy security software from third parties.
After heading up Microsofts newly formed security technology unit for seven months, Ben Fathi is moving over to manage a Windows Core System development team. Click here to read more.
Will this appease the third-party add-on market? First, its impossible to say for sure before Microsoft releases details, which could take some time. I suspect vendors will be OK with the PatchGuard solution, assuming its what it appears to be. Theres no valid reason for them to object to the Welcome Center solution.
The Security Center I can see being a problem, even though Microsofts solution addresses the most important problem. They might say that the existence of two security control panels would be confusing to the user, but Microsoft cant guarantee that a third party will provide minimal security UI functionality, and a third party cant guarantee that if its product is uninstalled it will put the Windows Security Center back. Microsoft has to guarantee that the user will have access to a standard UI for these functions.
In the meantime it would seem that the company wants to do what it has to do to get impediments out of Vistas way. Dont be surprised if it makes even more changes.
Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Symantec had also complained about Vistas "Welcome Center," an initial screen the user sees as part of the "out-of-box experience." This screen, in betas and release candidates, has an ad for Microsofts security software.