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Vista blunder upsets security vendors

Software firms locked out of meeting

Security vendors looking to gain insight into Microsoft's plans for opening up the Vista OS (operating system) kernel have been frustrated by a technical glitch that prevented many from joining the first online discussion of the issue.

"Oops," wrote Microsoft senior product manager Stephen Toulouse in a blog posting on the subject. "We had a glitch where we sent out a messed-up link.

"We're very sorry about that. It certainly was not intentional and we definitely see that was not a good thing for people to experience on such an important topic."

Microsoft set up the meeting to talk about how it plans to give security vendors access to Vista's kernel on 64bit systems. This has been a contentious issue, as Microsoft had initially planned to lock out of the kernel software vendors such as Symantec and McAfee, claiming this would make Vista more secure. The security vendors said the move would harm their products, and Microsoft finally capitulated, after first being warned by EU (European Union) regulators.

Microsoft rescheduled its Thursday morning web conference after it realised it had sent out a bad LiveMeeting link to participants, but in the end some security vendors were shut out of the meeting.

Most of Symantec's team, for example, was unable to attend. "It turned out that all but one of our team was not able to make the first meeting," said Cris Paden, a Symantec spokesman.

Microsoft set up a second meeting later in the day to take questions from those who missed the first, Paden said. A further meeting is also planned for Monday, according to Toulouse.

McAfee said there was "little indication" that Microsoft planned to live up to its promise, made late last week, to work with security vendors on several issues relating to Vista.

"We have been greatly disappointed by the lack of action by the company so far and Microsoft has not lived up, either in detail or in spirit, to the hollow assurances offered by its top management," said Christopher Thomas, McAfee's outside legal counsel in Brussels.

Sunbelt Software president Alex Eckelberry said the mix-up was due to an honest mistake with Microsoft's conferencing software. "Someone at the firm accidentally sent out the LiveMeeting presentation invites as 'presenter', which is an invitation to chaos," he said in a blog posting. "Realising their error, the meeting was rescheduled for 30 minutes later, and that didn't all come together, because the meeting had been originally setup to end at 12:30 [Eastern time], so we were promptly all kicked off.

"While I have my disagreements with Microsoft on the PatchGuard issue, I must defend it in this instance. It was a case of a few honest mistakes made by well-intentioned people, probably working under a tremendous amount of stress."

Microsoft has said it expects to make new kernel APIs (application programming interfaces) for security products available as part of the first major – or 'service pack' – update to Vista. Security vendors are pushing to have them included sooner.


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