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September 21, 2006

Symantec, Adobe Give EC an Earful Over Vista Bundling

Symantec is complaining to the European Commission over security features in Vista that apparently lock out third parties in favor of Microsoft's built in security.  The complaints revolve around Microsoft bundling its own security software into the OS and using its security structure to lock out competitors.  The company has asked the EU for guidance but the Commission has said that Microsoft as a monopolist should know what its obligations are. 

Commentators liken this to the uncoupling of Media Player from Windows XP.  That was a flop as a competitive measure by the Commission.  No one bought the MP-less version of XP in Europe.  Comparing the security situation to the Media Player fiasco isn't quite apt here.  Basic media players are free from every company that offers one.  So, for audio, it comes down to using whatever plays the file.  Security is different as people pay for the these products.  Free virus and spyware software are available, but don't offer as complete protection as the money products.  That's where the market is, and that's where Microsoft seems to be problematic with the EU.

Adobe's beef with Microsoft involves the XPS printing system and the PDF creation features that Microsoft intended in putting into Vista and Office 2007.  "Save as PDF" was to be an included option in Office.  Microsoft took the feature out but made it available as a free downloadable add-on.  XPS, on the other hand does the same thing as PDF, but it's a native Vista and Office file format.  Adobe claims these features would kill its business.  The PDF standard is a de facto document presentation standard for quite some time.  Adobe has had that market more or less locked up.  So the question is will XPS destroy the market for Adobe as Internet Explorer did for Netscape?  It's hard to say.  It's not as if Adobe couldn't stand some competition, but there is that problem of Microsoft leveraging the operating system.

This is getting close to release time.  Microsoft has indicated it could delay releasing Vista in Europe if it can't resolve the issues with the Commission in advance.  There is still more time for developments, however, as this game of chicken plays itself out.

Stories are in Microsoft Watch, Ars Technica, the Financial Times, and PC World.

In another note on Vista, Microsoft plans to include every version of Vista on a single DVD, differentiating between installs through the product key.  This simplifies manufacturing and distribution and makes it easier for the company to lure customers into buying sequential upgrades to the various versions of Vista.  The same feature should provide hackers with something to do once Vista gets to consumers.

See the story in PC World on this.

September 21, 2006 | Permalink

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