Microsoft demands secure passage for Vista in Europe

Microsoft has said it wants the forthcoming security features contained in Windows Vista to remain intact for European customers, as the European Commission deliberates over the matter.

Microsoft has said it wants the forthcoming security features contained in Windows Vista to remain intact for European customers, as the European Commission deliberates over the matter.

The Commission is considering whether any of the security features or other new elements to the company’s latest version of Windows will contravene any anti-trust laws in Europe.

Reuters reports that Erich Andersen, Microsoft vice-president and associate general counsel for Europe, told reporters, “One of our principal concerns is that European consumers have access to the same new security features in Windows Vista as everyone else.

“Security is a top concern for European consumers and we hope the Commission will not require removal of these important features in Europe. We want to launch Windows Vista in a fully lawful manner and we want to avoid regulatory decisions that could increase security risks for European consumers.”

The Commission previously said it was up to the companies producing products, not European institutions, to ensure they are legal before they are launched.
 
Action can be taken by the Commission only when a final product is shipped. However, the two sides are discussing matters raised about features contained in Vista, with concerns expressed by some of Microsoft’s rivals.

Analyst Ovum said of the situation, “There have been long-term discussions between the EU and Microsoft on the forthcoming Vista operating system, and whether elements of the product are likely to fall foul of EU regulations and become subject to regulatory intervention.

“The interaction seems, from the outside, to have been amicable. However, no definite conclusions have been reached, or at least none that has been clearly communicated to the European marketplace. As the launch date of Vista rapidly approaches, it is absurd that there is still doubt over whether the product will be subject to regulatory intervention.”
 
Ovum said that if the EU is going to ask Microsoft to remove security-related functionality, then it needs to be “very precise in its request and very clear why it is making the request. It has the potential to cause a major market disruption, with no benefit for the end-consumer whatsoever”.

Ovum added, “If the EU is to intervene, there is a desperate need for a clear timetable, a properly articulated set of reasons why an intervention is necessary, and the target outcomes that the EU seeks to achieve.”

Microsoft has still not complied with the Commission’s 2004 anti-trust judgement, and was recently fined for not doing so.

Vista is set to be shipped to large businesses from this November, and is scheduled to be available to all users from next January.

 

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