Microsoft Tries to Settle

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2006-10-16 Print this article Print

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 And the Security Center issues alerts to the user, as when the product is out of date, for instance.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.
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.
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 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 Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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