Microsoft Corp. plans to bundle anti-spyware protection into Windows Vista, a move that is sure to raise eyebrows among the companys security competitors, many of which are also its partners.
The Windows AntiSpyware product, which currently ships to consumers as a free stand-alone application, will be integrated into Vista, as is indicated in the latest beta build of Vista distributed to technical beta testers last week.
"The core Windows AntiSpyware functionality gets built in," said Greg Sullivan, lead Windows product manager, in Redmond, Wash. "For unmanaged environments—home and small- business users—we want to provide base-level security services."
The actual anti-spyware code was not included in the second CTP (Community Technology Preview) release of Vista (Build 5213), but visual evidence was found in the Security Center, a built-in feature that lets users manage settings for security patching, Internet options and the embedded firewall.
Microsoft is careful to note that many of the features included in the latest Vista preview are still being developed and "do not yet represent their final functionality or design."
"Some of the features in the October CTP will undergo significant changes before the final version of Windows Vista ships," the company said, noting that the anti-spyware functionality "will continue to evolve throughout the development process."
The decision is seen as a bold gamble by Microsoft, coming at a time when its emergence as a security vendor has already raised questions about software bundling and unfair competition.
In the past, rivals have bitterly complained about Microsofts integration of Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Outlook Express and Windows Messenger, among other technologies, into the operating system.
A Microsoft spokesperson insists the company has worked "openly and collaboratively" with vendors in the security business.
"At the end of the day, Microsoft has to do whats good for consumers. Making Windows AntiSpyware a part of the Security Center means that anti-spyware technology will be pluggable in Windows, just like anti-virus and the like," said Robert McLaws, president of IT consultancy Interscape Technologies Inc., in Mesa, Ariz.
Ryan Naraine is a senior writer for Ziff Davis Internet.
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