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Brief: Microsoft Bends To Brussels

The company has made several concessions to regulators and rivals in the run-up to Vista's release.
It's official now: The days of triumphant Windows releases are gone. Instead, Microsoft is limping to the starting line with its next operating system, appeasing regulators on the way.

Commissioner Kroes is on Microsoft's case. -- Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

Commissioner Kroes is on Microsoft's case

Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters
Windows Vista is undergoing last-minute changes to quell complaints from rivals and antitrust regulators. The biggest is in security. Microsoft will publish new APIs to give vendors of security soft- ware access to Windows' kernel. Microsoft tried to block all access to the kernel in 64-bit Vista, but European Union regulators pushed for the concessions. Symantec and McAfee, which say they need kernel access to protect PC users from some malicious software, aren't satisfied. Symantec says Microsoft's plan doesn't let it provide all the functions its products did with kernel access.

Microsoft aims to allow competitors' malware-sniffing capabilities, says Adrien Robinson, a director in Microsoft's security technology unit. "But it's a two-way street," she says--security software companies will have to change their code, too.

Microsoft also made last-minute changes to Internet Explorer 7, released last week for Windows XP, so users have greater flexibility to make search engines other than Microsoft's the default.

In Brussels last week, Microsoft said it would make its virtual hard disk format for running multiple Windows and Linux apps on one server available royalty-free (see "Microsoft Opens Virtualization Standard In Gambit Against VMware").

The European Commission, guided by competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, has fined Microsoft 777.5 million euros in the past two years and made little secret of its concerns about Vista. They won't likely end with its launch.