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Microsoft Agrees to Changes in Vista Security

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the those-waters-were-a-mite-too-deep dept.

318

An anonymous reader writes "Bowing to pressure from European antitrust regulators and rival security vendors, Microsoft has agreed to modify Windows Vista to better accommodate third-party security software makers. In a press conference Friday, Microsoft said it would configure Vista to let third-party anti-virus and other security software makers bypass 'PatchGuard,' a feature in 64-bit versions of Windows Vista designed to bar access to the Windows kernel. Microsoft said it would create an API to let third-party vendors access the kernel and to disable the Windows Security Center so that users would not be prompted by multiple alerts about operating system security. In addition, Redmond said it would modify the welcome screen presented to Vista users to include links to other security software other than Microsoft's own OneCare suite. From the article: 'It looks like Microsoft was really testing the waters here, sort of pushing the limits of antitrust and decided they probably couldn't cross that line just yet.'"

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testing the waters? (3, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435513)

From the article (and /. summary):

It looks like Microsoft was really testing the waters here, sort of pushing the limits of antitrust and decided they probably couldn't cross that line just yet," Northcutt said. "That's a good thing, because it's just too easy for mistakes to happen when you are only left with a single security provider."

It's only an author's surmise, but as I understand and interpret Microsoft's position, there is no line they will be able to cross ever while they are still a monopoly. Microsoft enjoys (immensely) their monopoly position in PC OSes, and as long as they do (immensely), they will continue to be proscribed from using their monopoly to leverage, influence, and otherwise compete unfairly with any other of their products.

There is no line to test.

Re:testing the waters? (-1, Redundant)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435601)

It's only an author's surmise, but as I understand and interpret Microsoft's position, there is no line they will be able to cross ever while they are still a monopoly.

Hog wash. Microsoft has aready crossed many lines where people thought the antitrust settlement would have stopped them. Eventually, they will cross this one, too. Just not yet.

Re:testing the waters? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435667)

It's only an author's surmise, but as I understand and interpret Microsoft's position, there is no line they will be able to cross ever while they are still a monopoly.
Microsoft isn't a monopoly though. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from using any number of other x86 operating systems on their PC. Don't like Windows? Fine, install Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc. Hell, buy a Mac and use MacOS X. This myth that you're somehow forced to use Windows if you buy a PC is ridiculous. You know why people use Microsoft Windows? Because they like it. It's stable, friendly, and well supported from both the vendor and third-party software point of view. It has awesome support for a huge variety of hardware devices and it's very easy to use.

Re:testing the waters? (3, Funny)

Xiph1980 (944189) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435705)

may I assume that you took the blue pill?

Re:testing the waters? (4, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435783)

"Microsoft isn't a monopoly though. There is absolutely nothing stopping anyone from using any number of other x86 operating systems on their PC. Don't like Windows? Fine, install Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc. Hell, buy a Mac and use MacOS X."

We've all been over this before...
  1. Computer manfuacturers are bent over a barrel to include an OEM Windows install on every machine they sell. The only realistic way for a user to get a computer without Windows is to build one themself.
  2. Since everybody is already getting a copy of Windows, what incentinve is there for the end user to try an alternative OS? Better yet, even if they do, they've already paid for Windows and Microsoft still has their money and their "installed base" numbers
  3. People write software for the dominant OS rather than invest even more money into R&D for multiple OSes. Meaning that most applications (read "games") out there are designed for Windows
The 95% of end users out there who don't build their own PCs from scratch are left with choosing to continue running the Windows their machine came with, or to take on the Sisyphusean challenge of working to install their own OS and tailoring their software shopping (if not their life in general) around that OS instead of simply using what they already paid for.

"You know why people use Microsoft Windows? Because they like it."

Microsoft will never allow anybody to test that hypothesis in any meaningful way. You can't say that with any certainty until Dell and HP start saying "Would you like Vista or Fedora with your new computer?"

And how does Microsoft do this? By abusing their monopoly power.

Re:testing the waters? (0)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435917)

Computer manfuacturers are bent over a barrel to include an OEM Windows install on every machine they sell.

Apple isn't.

Re:testing the waters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436057)

"Apple isn't."

Neither is Sun. Or Toyota for that matter. At least try to pay attention to the point.

"Geeks! The Teamsters of the 21st century!"

Except for the organization or ability to enforce any sort of change. There's arguments for why geeks *should* unionize, but it's silly to think they are already.

Re:testing the waters? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436281)

Sadly, /. is becoming a cesspool for pro-Microsoft fanboys. It's scary to think that many of them have mod-powers... that's why I'm an AC.

Perhaps Microsoft is not only encouraging their employees to maintain blogs but to participate on forums as well.

Re:testing the waters? (2, Interesting)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435793)

Because they like it. It's stable, friendly, and well supported from both the vendor and third-party software point of view.

...And well supported by people like me (us IT folks), you forgot to mention. I've yet again had to do a "Standard Windows Cleanup" this past week. My GF'S Dad's XP machine was under the weather (again). He's teh Average, Joe Six-Pack (l)user. Multiple versions of AOL installed (and couldn't uninstall a single one of them), Anti-Virus Defs about a year old, etc.

OK, most of the problems with it could've been fixed or prevented by properly updating the machine over time, but, Windows will happily eat itself alive if it's not properly taken care of. This is something that the target audience you reference has no idea how to do, or that there is even a need to. It's people like Us (tm) that know these things.

I personally find it much more work to keep a Win box running smooth and secure then I've ever had with my *NIX boxes.

Re:testing the waters? (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435795)

It would have been easier to just type "I do not know what a monopoly is, I should have taken more economics classes"

Finkployd

Re:testing the waters? (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435919)

This myth that you're somehow forced to use Windows if you buy a PC is ridiculous.
True but you miss a key point. You ARE forced to BUY Windows when you buy a PC. Therein lies the monopolistic power. No other OS maker can ever be on equal footing with Microsoft because of this.

Forced to use (2, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435967)

I don't use windows, because I want to control my computer.

I am, however, forced to *buy Windows every time I get a new computer. I could build my own, I guess, but that's quite a bit of work.

Or would you say that the US Postal service doesn't have a monopoly because after all I can drive my letters to Nevada myself if I don't like their product?

Re:Forced to use (1)

ethanrider (129483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436153)

UPS and FedEx come to mind as alternatives. Now these aren't subsidized by the government, hence they will cost more, but they are quite good at getting things to people fast.

Back to the topic at hand. I am not convinced that the Antivirus Software market has a right to exist; alas software has bugs. It would help if the apps that came with the OS were reasonably secure by default, but in the meantime Antivirus will remain a necessary evil

USPS is not supported by taxes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436487)

UPS and FedEx come to mind as alternatives. Now these aren't subsidized by the government, hence they will cost more, but they are quite good at getting things to people fast.

While I suppose one could say that the USPS does receive some benefits from being a gov't organization, they are independently funded, and don't receive taxes or subsidies directly.

Minor difference, because like I said, they do receive some benefits from being what they are. Like not having to pay taxes, or obey local regulations.

Re:Forced to use (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436221)

I am, however, forced to *buy Windows every time I get a new computer. I could build my own, I guess, but that's quite a bit of work.

It's not that hard. The hardest part of building a system is waiting for the parts to come in from NewEgg or TigerDirect. You start with picking a motherboard, then pick a video card, case, and memory to match it. No big thing, I can design a machine in like 20 minutes of online shopping.

Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1, Interesting)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435517)

"designed to bar access to the Windows kernel. Microsoft said it would create an API to let third-party vendors access the kernel and to disable the Windows Security Center so that users would not be prompted by multiple alerts about operating system security"

Perhaps all the alert popups that Windows is more and more cluttered with are a problem? As an XP user, I'd be sorely tempted to use a simple option if available that suppressed ALL of these popups. They are just as annoying in an OS as they are in a browser, especially that one about hard disk free space being too small.

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435543)

You must restart your computer. Would you like to do it now, or would you like me to display this same dialog 30 seconds from now, while you're doing something else like typing a slashdot comm

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435577)

"You must restart your computer. Would you like to do it now, or would you like me to display this same dialog 30 seconds from now, while you're doing something else like typing a slashdot comm"

Did that end with "NO CARRIER"? hahaha. Often accompanied by a badly-designed message window that has two or three options, NONE of which you want (one reason being is that they are poorly described). So you decide to ignore the popup and minimize it. Oh look, it breaks windows-design standards by not having "minimize" enabled! So the only choice left is to bring up "Task Manager" and kill the popup that way (or drag it to a corner of the screen where it sits with other unstoppable inscrutable popup windows until you reboot). Why is this stuff in Microsoft's OS when if you programmed this way in a freshman class you'd get failed?

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435845)

(or drag it to a corner of the screen where it sits with other unstoppable inscrutable popup windows until you reboot).

Finally, a reason for the masses to go to a dual-monitor setup. Drag that old obsolete 12" monochrome monitor and hercules card out and just "drag-and-ignore".

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

refitman (958341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435961)

No need to open your PC or start draging additional hardware around, just install a virtual desktop application such as multidesk [fusion-soft.co.uk] .

Voila, all those annoying popups on a seperate desktop.

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436425)

That's not a bad idea. And when they're finished, they can just lock their computer to that screen ... anyone else wanting to use it will have to click click click click click click click click click click click click ...

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435909)

Oh, that's nothing. I seem to recall some that went "You must restart your computer. Press OK to restart." without giving an option to restart when you feel like it. Now that I think of it, a better version would be "Computer must be restarted. This usually takes care of itself".

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (2, Funny)

GTMoogle (968547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436113)

In college I worked at a software company where one developer arbitrarily decided that the product needed to restart when first installed. So he activated the standard windows restart routine that gives you a dialog that says "Windows will restart in 30 seconds", a graph that's counting down, and a 'restart now' button.

QA didn't have a cow, they had an entire herd.

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (0, Offtopic)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436303)

Funny how the dialog managed to submit the comment just before rebooting... Seriously, enough with the NO CARRIER jokes already. That behaviour has not been seen since the BBSes died.

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435557)

I wonder how long it will be before operating systems come with a "you're running low on disk space: want me to order a 250gb drive for you?" ...or buy internet-based storage like on S3. While I doubt it'd have the best prices, I'm sure it'd be a big hit with normal users

Re:Are the alerts perhaps the problem? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436257)

I wonder how long it will be before operating systems come with a "you're running low on disk space: want me to order a 250gb drive for you?" ...or buy internet-based storage like on S3. While I doubt it'd have the best prices, I'm sure it'd be a big hit with normal users

Probably as soon as MS doesn't allow you to delete a thing off the drive for 'security' reasons.

You & I Are Smarter Than the Average Bear (0)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435561)

As an XP user, I'd be sorely tempted to use a simple option if available that suppressed ALL of these popups.
I think you mean to say that "as a well informed computer expert" instead of "as an XP user." These alerts and popups may be the thing needed to prevent my computer ignorant siblings from obediantly installing viruses on my parent's computer.

Granted, for you or I these would be merely annoyances, who's to say they won't actually help the average computer user? Maybe this will finally stop the zombie machines that were once ma and pa's internet machines?

I know they're Microsoft and they're stupid/evil but you have to see at least some sort of benefit from these (all be they poorly implemented) security features.

Re:You & I Are Smarter Than the Average Bear (2, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435605)

"These alerts and popups may be the thing needed to prevent my computer ignorant siblings from obediantly installing viruses on my parent's computer."

You mean the ignorant siblings who always click "OK" every time they see a popup, so when you go home you find a desktop filled with bonzi buddies and casino shortcuts, 3 toolbars on the browser, and full-screen ads that pop-up at any time at random?

"I know they're Microsoft and they're stupid/evil but you have to see at least some sort of benefit from these (all be they poorly implemented) security features."

Real security involves preventing the security crisis in the FIRST place, rather than bombarding the user with a blizzard of poorly-worded popups.

Two approaches to security. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436127)

"I know they're Microsoft and they're stupid/evil but you have to see at least some sort of benefit from these (all be they poorly implemented) security features."

You know, you can either train the guy cowering in the room in the middle of the house on how to use a blunderbuss to deal with intruders..... Or you can address the fact that there are no actual windows or doors in the empty door/windowframes of the house, and maybe consider the removing the big "FREE FURNITURE - COME ON IN" sign that is on the lawn.

Maybe when you do the latter, it might not be so important that the guy keep his itchy trigger finger on the blunderbuss.

Vista (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435519)

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I don't get it. (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435525)

Sorry but I think the kernel should be off limits. Leave that to Microsoft and hold them wholly accountable to preventing issues with it.

On one hand people bitch about MS's lack of security yet when they do essentially what is asked it is claimed they only did it to be uncompetitive.

Make up your mind. Or is just permanent open season on MS?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

AcidArrow (912947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435583)

It's not us that should make up our minds. It's Microsoft.

If you make a design decision and you have good reasons for it, then you should not change it despite all the whining from any party. And if that decision was right, people will get it eventually.

Re:I don't get it. (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435631)

Here's the crux of the complaint: In Windows, to combat viruses and add security like firewalls, these programs need kernel level access (as many APIs unfortunately do). Now with Vista, MS had decided to close off that access to all software except their commercial security apps (which they will charge extra to the customer). To some that is abusing their monopoly. It would one thing if they closed it totally because of security and that nothing but the OS could access it. But they had set it up to where only their MS programs could access it. It would be no different if Vista had made changes that would allow MS Money to work but not Quicken.

Re:I don't get it. (5, Insightful)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435943)

MS had decided to close off that access to all software except their commercial security apps (which they will charge extra to the customer)

Lies. Trend and Avast have apparently been able to run on Vista without any problems. They knuckled down and wrote code so they worked on Vista, and indeed Vista has an API called Windows Filtering Platform, which allows anti-virus makers to monitor file activity. Symantec and McAfee, on the other hand, threw a hissy fit.

Microsoft is, for once, clearly in the right.

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436313)

Also Kaspersky apparently works fine with Patchguard enabled too. Plus MS Onecare doesn't bypass patchguard & has to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Re:I don't get it. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436129)

Now with Vista, MS had decided to close off that access to all software except their commercial security apps

This is false. Microsoft has stated that their own security apps will not be granted kernel access.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

rhendershot (46429) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436385)

which does not mean they can't gain kernel level privs. how else would they check for rootkits outside of users' context?

I think the point really is does Microsoft publish the exact same hooks that they use internally? In the past this has had a resounding NO answer. Will the EU change this, even in this limited way, is a question for history.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

tu_holmes (744001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435641)

Hasn't hurt Linux lately has it? Everyone looks at that kernel and it seems to do ok in the security department.

Re:I don't get it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435989)

That's because if you hack a Linux box all you get is control a system that belongs to some 28 year old guy who lives in his aunts basement. The value in finding security holes in a Windows box is that there are millions that can be turned into zombies to be used to crank out spam or worse. There is no money in hacking Linux. Most of the holes found in Windows come from Linux hackers who rarely take a look at their own OS. While there are many secure features in a standard Linux distro most sysadmins never address them. The way most people implement Linux is like parking an armored car outside of the bank but leaving the doors open.

The Wikipedia treatment (2, Insightful)

ArikTheRed (865776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436031)

That's because if you hack a Linux box all you get is control a system that belongs to some 28 year old guy who lives in his aunts basement. [citation needed]
The value in finding security holes in a Windows box is that there are millions that can be turned into zombies to be used to crank out spam or worse. There is no money in hacking Linux. [citation needed]
Most of the holes found in Windows come from Linux hackers who rarely take a look at their own OS. While there are many secure features in a standard Linux distro most sysadmins never address them. [citation needed]
The way most people implement Linux is like parking an armored car outside of the bank but leaving the doors open. [citation needed]

Just because you say it in a expert tone, does not make it credible or correct.

Re:The Wikipedia treatment (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436461)

Just because you would like it to be false does not make it so.

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435815)

Agree - if people think it's too "inconvenient" to have to turn the security center off themselves then maybe they shouldn't own a general purpose computer.

If there is another API you had better believe that people will find a way to exploit it..just how are you going to "VALIDATE" that the calling process is entitled to legitimately use the interface?

I get tired of supporting PC's for people who have no idea how they work. I even know some people who have the "PC's are so cheap now" tech support strategy of "just buying a new computer" when the old one slows down because it's been blindsided by spyware..because they couldn't be bothered to install or update antivirus.

Government Interference in the Marketplace (1, Insightful)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435817)


Sorry but I think the kernel should be off limits. Leave that to Microsoft and hold them wholly accountable to preventing issues with it. On one hand people bitch about MS's lack of security yet when they do essentially what is asked it is claimed they only did it to be uncompetitive. Make up your mind. Or is just permanent open season on MS?

Exactly.

That is why we got such awful security in Internet Explorer [although for the opposite reason]: Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Clinton administration was suing Microsoft over their "monopolistic" marketshare, and because of that [vis-a-vis Netscape and their browser], Microsoft was forced to integrate Internet Explorer into the operating system so that they could say to the Justice Department that they couldn't ship a version of Windows without it.

Fast forward eight or ten years, and now we've got the reverse: Microsoft is forced to open up the operating system to appease EU regulators who want all of their security vendors to be able to get a cut of the action.

In either direction [governments forcing Microsoft browsers into the operating system, governments forcing third party vendors into the operating system], what you get is government-induced mayhem.

But of course that's not the politically correct point of view here at Slashdot, so expect me to get modded down to "-1 Troll".

Re:Government Interference in the Marketplace (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436203)

Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Clinton administration was suing Microsoft over their "monopolistic" marketshare, and because of that [vis-a-vis Netscape and their browser], Microsoft was forced to integrate Internet Explorer into the operating system so that they could say to the Justice Department that they couldn't ship a version of Windows without it.

That wasn't the only course of action they could have taken. They could have just actually made a better browser than Netscape. It's a radical idea I know, but apparently people tend to gravitate to a better product, even when multiple choices are available.

Re:Government Interference in the Marketplace (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436437)

"...governments forcing Microsoft browsers into the operating system..."

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Re:Government Interference in the Marketplace (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436463)

Oops.... Forgot to quote this line as well:

"Microsoft was forced to integrate Internet Explorer into the operating system so that they could say to the Justice Department that they couldn't ship a version of Windows without it."

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435879)

The anti virus companies have made tons of money off of Microsoft insecurties.

Now that there's a chance all those holes might go away, they will fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. I'm no Microsoft fan but these companies whining about Microsoft using their monopoly position to shut them out of the market, are in conflict of interest.

Nothing new here, just buisness as usual.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

javaxjb (931766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435945)

But the crux of the matter is that the kernel is not off limits. Signed drivers from third parties are allowed to access the kernel. So how is this any different? Why make an arbitrary distinction between say video drivers and antivirus software? Shouldn't we welcome the choice. After all, if Microsoft can actually make a decent security add-on, won't we be better served by the competition between the third party vendors. Maybe then the other players products will be more efficient and less annoying.

Bullocks (3, Funny)

ViaNRG (892147) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435537)

'It looks like Microsoft was really testing the waters here, sort of pushing the limits of antitrust and decided they probably couldn't cross that line just yet.'

Just like I test the waters before I dump the bodies... Oh, wait I better not cross that line

Most important question (3, Interesting)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435549)

Is this going to be a backdoor into the protected parts of the kernel that also handle media protection?

It would be nice if one batch of companies out to screw you over had accidentally been defeated by another batch of companies out to screw you over. Sort of collateral rebuilding, if you like.

Damn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435555)

Finally MS gets their act together (somewhat) and who comes in to ruin the day? SYMANTEC. I don't know about the rest of you guys but I'd rather not have a 'Symantec Security Center' on my machine, because I know that two weeks later it'll just stop working for no apparent reason. The fact that there is a method of officially bypassing many of these built-in features is begging for misuse.

Yes, I recognize that MS shouldn't be leveraging their monopoly status to promote their own suite (OneCare) but there are certain things that I would rather let them do their own thing on.

Microsoft cant win (1)

majortom1981 (949402) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435565)

People complain that windows is not secure , then when microsoft makes it secure people go nuts that its tooo secure and they complain .

THis is not right.

Re:Microsoft cant win (2, Insightful)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435587)

when microsoft makes it secure people go nuts that its tooo secure and they complain

The problem is that Microsoft's record with security isn't great; lots of people (myself included) prefer to trust another company to provide anti-virus and firewall security under Windows. Microsoft will have to work very hard - in an equal arena -- to show that their AV and firewall solutions are as good or better as those of their competition

Re:Microsoft cant win (2, Interesting)

rhendershot (46429) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436283)

That trust is severely misplaced. Third-party companies can only play catch-up and do so from the disadvantage of external access to the system.

The parent article misses a beat in that Microsoft has an API to the kernel for their AV needs, by definition. The only issue is should that be public. The EU is making them publish this API (in some form, I don't trust Microsoft to release all their 'goodies'). But should it remain private to Microsoft then the consequence is that virus writer's will de-engineer it as they have done with so much of Microsoft's closed technology. Obviously, then, it benefits the end-users that the API be published and it benefits the end user that third-parties have a better vehicle towards check&balances of their own AV solutions.

But don't ever expect them to be able to produce the tightly-integrated, non-intrusive extensions to the kernel that Microsoft *could* produce, were they sufficiently motivated. To that, having the load-library/file-access hooks published for the kernal and the necessary security credentials to do so is a good thing since various pieces can be compared as to how one or the other of third-parties or Microsoft works better/faster/less problematic. That's good for the end user.

The squeals heard from AV companies are to be expected. Any change affects their income lines. Vista could be remedially-exempt (eg. totally secure) and some form of the same complaints from them, and the EU, would still be heard. That's a case of they're damned if they do and if they don't. My assertion is they created the situation so just have to live with it ;)

Re:Microsoft cant win (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435689)

Your use of the word 'secure' has two different meanings here.

1. "People complain that windows is not secure" People say this because there are a lot of holes in Windows. This is not to say that it is generally unsecure, but that people are still able to find vounerabilities within the OS. As proven before, Microsoft does patch these holes (although it can take a while compared to time needed for the exploit to cause damage). This is always going to happen with any complex piece of software that allows things to be installed on top of it and contains networking features...It's a fact of life that people should expect in a limited sense and deal with. This is where #2 comes in.

2. "when microsoft makes it secure people go nuts that its tooo secure and they complain" Herein lies the problem. Microsoft is not making the software any more secure by blocking out other security vendors. I do think they need to restrict access to the kernel, but why from software makers such as Norton, AVG, McAfee? These programs compensate for the vounerabilites of the OS and allow protection from secutity flaws that come up between when they are discovered and when they are fixed by Microsoft. Another thing to note: this is generally the same software that protects us from users doing stupid actions such as running scripts and .exe's from random emails and who don't know enough to secure a computer.

Re:Microsoft cant win (1)

Darkon (206829) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435801)

do think they need to restrict access to the kernel, but why from software makers such as Norton, AVG, McAfee?
If a means is offered for Norton, AVG, and McAfee to bypass the security then you can bet your bottom dollar that hackers and malware writers will use it as well. Personally I'd rather not have deliberate holes in my kernel just to keep 3rd party security companies happy.

I find it kind of interesting... (5, Insightful)

dghcasp (459766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435579)

Companies like Symantec (aka Norton) have profited immensely from an industry created because Windows wasn't secure.

Now they're upset because Microsoft wants that piece of that market; in other words, Microsoft wants to profit from the fact that Windows isn't secure.

Yet in pretty much every other operating system, the solution is simply to make the darned thing secure.

Now, I realize that the issues are a bit larger than this, but I do wonder: IF Microsoft ever released a truly secure operating system, thus making Symantec and other such companies as relevant as the buggy whip, would they then sue to prevent the release of the O/S?

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (2, Insightful)

MalusCaelestis (172079) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435907)

You're missing the point that this is exactly what's happening. By implementing PatchGuard, Microsoft was trying to make the OS more secure. But because these "security" companies bitched and moaned that Microsoft shut them out of the kernel (where no software but the OS ought to be), Microsoft must now make the system less secure in order to look like they're not abusing their monopoly powers. No reasonable person can place the blame on Microsoft here. If they don't open up the kernel to Symantec, McAfee, et al. then they'll be opening themselves up to another anti-trust lawsuit, risking billions of dollars in fines and damages in both the US and the EU. Not even Microsoft can afford that.

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (1)

GTMoogle (968547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435973)

From the way the article states it, I understood that the problem was popup boxes requiring user authorization every time the 3rd party security software does, well, anything. This could easily be changed to be a one-time only authorization. Which could very well be hackable on its own, but on the whole generally not a gaping hole you could drive a truck through.

I'd welcome any clarification on the specifics if you have them.

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436039)

Microsoft is screwed either way on this one, unfortunately.

The hacker community has already figured out how to bypass patchguard. If the antivirus/antispyware/etc vendors dont resort to the same tactics, they lose. So Microsoft gives them an API, which is now open to the blackhats as well. Might as well just forget the damn Patchguard altogether.

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (1)

scuba0 (950343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436143)

"Now they're upset because Microsoft wants that piece of that market; in other words, Microsoft wants to profit from the fact that Windows isn't secure." But how come Microsoft is opening up the kernel to its own security-programs. Wouldn't the platform be better of not having any at all? And by the way, just because they want a piece of it doesn't mean that they can remove all other vendors from the pie (guess why they complain?).

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436393)

But how come Microsoft is opening up the kernel to its own security-programs.

They're not. Onecare has to live by the same restrictions re: kernel access as everyone else was going to (btw other AV vendors like avast and kaspersky also apparently work just fine with patchguard in place).

Re:I find it kind of interesting... (1)

prelelat (201821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436537)

I wonder though if other operating systems like Linux and Mac OSX are really that much secure than windows, or if the target is the mass of Windows users. I'm not saying OSX and linux are just as unsecure I'm asking the question are they really unlikely not to get a virus? I do believe that even though the chances of getting a virus for linux isn't exactly as high as for windows that their are virus scanners for it. AVG I believe is one example of this. I don't think its simply that the OS is more secure, if Windows was just as secure as OSX and Linux and what ever else you want to throw in the mix I'm sure that you would still be seeing viru's and people complaining about the security. I think the big thing is that Microsoft has a reputation in this department.

I'll stick with tried and tested security models. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435597)

You don't get security from drastically changing your security model time and time again, and then once more as you're nearing your final release. Even if your conceptual model is improved, any source changes will quite possibly introduce new security glitches.

That's why for my systems, I only stick with OpenBSD. It's built on the decades-old UNIX security model, and put simply, it works. They take it further, by basically auditing every single line of code in their core system. While third-party packages may suffer from insecurity, the mere fact that the base system is so secure means that security issues in general are completely minimized. To harm a well-maintained OpenBSD system, one would essentially be forced to resort to social engineering, or physically accessing the machine.

I will not use Windows Vista, let alone use it for anything serious, since Microsoft is pulling shenanigans like this. What they're doing isn't an example of good software development techniques. And that ignores the potential problems that this new model, with its recent politically-incited tweaks, will no doubt have. The mere fact that third-party security software is needed just goes to show how bad the situation on Windows is.

While I dislike the M$ monopoloy... (2, Insightful)

Ichigo Kurosaki (886802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435599)

I personally don't want a crippled OS to accommodate third party security vendors. If Microsoft can make there OS so secure that third party software is not needed I say go for it.

Of course if it turns out that Microsoft was just locking other vendors out to make users use their security software, which performed poorly I applaud the EU for helping the consumers. Because really all I care about is how well the end result is.

Re:While I dislike the M$ monopoloy... (1, Offtopic)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435669)

"I personally don't want a crippled OS to accommodate third party security vendors."

But before this you were willing to spend money on a crippled OS to accommodate third party media vendors?

Re:While I dislike the M$ monopoloy... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436163)

At least it would have been that little bit harder for rogue apps to pwn the box.

Re:While I dislike the M$ monopoloy... (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435977)

I personally don't want a crippled OS to accommodate third party security vendors.

Who says it's crippled?

You can write a Linux loadable kernel module to do what Microsoft is currently preventing with Vista? Is Linux "crippled" because it doesn't have that feature?

Re:While I dislike the M$ monopoloy... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436069)

I personally don't want a crippled OS to accommodate third party security vendors.

It sounds like MS is planning to sell its own security stuff separately. If there is a mechanism for aftermarket installation of MS security products/patches then there is already a mechanism that could potentially be cracked*. Legitimate security software vendors could not legally use such a crack (thanks to DMCA and its EU equivalents) but that is hardly going to bother virus writers, is it?

* This is not an "Alice wants to talk to Bob without Eve hearing" scenario (which the cryptographers have pretty well sewn up) - like DRM, this is "Alice wants to stop Bob talking in his sleep to his girlfriend Eve" situation (which can only be solved by castrating Bob).

Beginning of the downfall (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435613)

I honestly thing vista is the beginning of the end for Microsoft.

They are pissing off their corporate customers, the governmnent. end users, 3rd party vendors.. Pretty much everyone...

Much as the *AA's are starting to cross the line, and will pay the price if they dont adapt, quickly.

The world has changed, and people are more aware and just wont put up with it..

Re:Beginning of the downfall (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436371)

I am sure most of you forget (or the younger kids don't know) that MS started out as the pioneers in their field. They were the Slashdotters of their day. They set out the break the monopoly held by IBM for years. The did it with a little purchased code that they heavily modified to run on personal desktop computers that IBM thought was no threat. The end result is an OS that runs on 95% of the worlds desktop computers and for most folks who know what they're doing it runs with few if any problems. While I am sure that many who read this will distance the Linux crowd from the MS of old, I have already seen the seeds of control planted in these forums. There are those we read daily who would outlaw Windows and force the world to run Linux for their own good as it is obviously the optimal choice. They will in the end become what they fought to eliminate just like MS. When they do, someone will come up with something new that fights the establishment with it's Linux monopoly and the whole thing will start all over again.

I dont agree (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436525)

No, i do remmber. and I dont agree they were pioneers. They were a bunch of wealthy snot nosed kids raised on theft from others. Bills parents were lawers .. a rotten industry if there ever was one.

They stole products ( DOS ) and concepts ( GEM anyone? ), and screwed people over during their 'rise to total domination'. From day one they were against software freedom. "dont copy our paper tapes of BASIC, its wrong" . They screwed IBM with NT after they drained IBM of the OS/2 code during their 'partnership'. The list goes on and on.

They have NEVER been a good company. Ever.

Though, i do agree that in the old days we *thought* they were the good guy fighting the good cause against the 'man'.. They snowed us on that one.

3rd parties should protect the OS (2, Insightful)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435647)

Why should the OS be secure when I can pay $30 for a 3rd party can do it (and destabilize the system as they do it, since they root the OS in undocumented ways)? This is a bad precedent and a huge loss for consumers.

What other changes before launch? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435649)

"Microsoft said it would configure Vista to let third-party anti-virus and other security software makers bypass 'PatchGuard,' a feature in 64-bit versions of Windows Vista designed to bar access to the Windows kernel."

Can't say I'm particularly happy about this (breaking security in the name of security? Could even OneCare touch the kernel before this?), but this makes me wonder if they'll actually bend to user pressure to change the licensing terms [slashdot.org] ?

Of course, the users don't have a legal team on speed-dial or other things to leverage against Microsoft. And there's no reason to believe that Vista will do anything but sell like hotcakes (after all, there are more reasons to go from XP to Vista than there were to go from 2k to XP), so there won't be any of the user backlash that most Slashdotters pretend they see in the future.

So, when all is said and done, I've got 14 months to figure out how I'm going to migrate to Linux before XP's end-of-life. It's a good thing I do most of my gaming on consoles...

Re:What other changes before launch? (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435975)

And there's no reason to believe that Vista will do anything but sell like hotcakes (after all, there are more reasons to go from XP to Vista than there were to go from 2k to XP), so there won't be any of the user backlash that most Slashdotters pretend they see in the future.

For those who missed the "irony" tags - people didn't switch from 2k to XP - they went from Win9x to XP - the 2k users continually dug in their heels when it came to switching. And certainly nobody I know even has Vista on their radar ...

Really, is there ANYBODY who knows a real live "Joe Sixpack end user" who is even aware that Vista exists? Its pretty bad when both OSX and Linux have a bigger awareness in the general community than linux's new flagship.

People will continue running XP long after its end-of-lifed, mostlyt to play games. And the antivirus vendors will cash in on this, by selling patching services to fix bugs in XP long after Microsoft stops supporting it - because its "good enough" for most users.

Its not like you need the source code to patch. Virus writers "patch" XP all the time.

Win-win (1)

Dacmot (266348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435651)

To me this just seems like a win-win situation: that is letting third-party by-pass their security measures to install their own.

At best, the third-party solution is better than Microsoft's, people's confidence in running Windows Vista has increased, which may prompt more people to switch from XP.

At worst, the third-party solution is worse than Microsoft's, in which case they can point fingers and re-affirm to the public that Vista has great security. The increased confidence in Microsoft's capability of delivering security solutions may help with sales of Vista as well.

Re:Win-win (1)

oggiejnr (999258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435733)

Unless virus makers work out how to access the kernel by using the mechanism that has been added to pander to the security companies which would otherwise be impossible. I foresee an incident where sloppy security at a security company means that someone get hold of a private key (I'm assuming this is how this will work) and write a virus and sign it using said key and everyone blames Microsoft for poor security. Also, if this is done by digital certifcate, what constitutes a security company who deserve access to the kernal. What's stopping me from setting up "Oggiejnr's Antivirus" and then claiming that I have to be allowed to hook the kernel as well? Once I have the key I can do what I want in the kernel and the whole system is useless

Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435695)

So MS does what we have asking for a decade or more to make their OS secure. Now, some 3rd party vendors bitch and MS is the evil oppressor for not "leaving access to the kernel open".
So, once the haxors get a hold of this open API, they will be cranking out root kits and other hacks that no one will be able to stop.

Great, thanks EU.

The anti-virus market shouldn't exist (1)

ByTor-2112 (313205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435805)

Microsoft's responsibility should be to provide an operating system that isolates the kernel from the user to the extent that no application run by an unpriviledged user could ever compromise anything other than that user's files. If they succeed, then the AV vendors have no need to get into the kernel. They just create software that looks for malicious software or libraries and eliminate them. If no app can get into the kernel they have nowhere to hide. That's the real solution IMO (not like I'm the first, second or even millionth person to opine that!)

Surely the AV companies had to know that MS would eventually be pulling a netscape on them. The company has to grow, and that market is a great opportunity for them. That being said, Microsoft being in the anti-virus market itself seems like some form of collusion. Imagine if the car manufacturers were also the owners of all the gas companies.

Disable Patchguard (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435839)

Just edit the registry:

Set

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Windows\CurrentVersion \PatchGuard\AllowRootKits

to 1

Re:Disable Patchguard (1)

SteelFist (734281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436157)

Could changing this value back to 0 reactivate the PatchGuard once it is deactivated in the final release?

Just let them have it already (2, Interesting)

Temujin_12 (832986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435849)

To my own suprise, when I read this I thought, "So, MS is striping away a part of its core security to accommodate 3rd party businesses? What would we say if our favorite *nix distribution started doing this?" Perhaps it is time to just let MS be. Let them provide their own security, their own browser, their own IM, etc, that are all tightly interwoven. Let them squelch creativity on their OS to the point that they either blow us away with what they can do when they lock the doors or alienate themselves from the entire software industry. Let them do whatever they want to lock/unlock 3rd party vendors out/in. We all complain about security, but then come unglued when MS tries to take a hard line to improve it because they close holes. Granted, the way they are closing holes may not be the best approach.

I say, let's just let them do whatever they want. A few things could come of this:
-Nothing really changes, we take off our tin foil hats, and life continues just fine
-Vista may actually be more secure and developers become adjusted to developing for it
-Vista becomes so hard to work with (as a software developer) that no software is written for it and everyone keeps using (developing for) XP, or switches OSes (and Vista becomes one of MS's big blunders)
-Vista becomes hard to work with (as a software developer) and we see more software makers moving over to alternative OSes (OSX, *nix, etc)

Really, what is so wrong with the LONG TERM results of these scenarios? Let's let MS make or break itself. Let's let them "test the waters" and see what happens.

Re:Just let them have it already (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436095)

Microsoft did this because they were going to be sued for billions. They'd rather close it off and force the security companies to use a supported API than let them hook into the kernel and do whatever they want. The EU just made Windows Vista less secure on x64 systems.

The real reason they are doing this (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435901)

The real reason they are doing this is that vista is behind and they need may also need a way to get out of Software Assurance / RTM release dates by saying that due to legal / antitrust regulations they must push back vista to test the changes out.

Re:The real reason they are doing this (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436077)

He never met a conspiracy he didn't like...

NO NO NO. (4, Interesting)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435913)

Trend Micro's anti-virus and Avast both work on Vista, because their respective developers spent time developing new software to work with it.

Symantec and McAfee on the other hand, rather than invest money in development for a version of their programs which fits Vista's new security model, decided to bitch and whine loudly about Microsoft's new security in Vista while doing nothing of any value. In a sane and equitable world, Microsoft would have offered to aid them in building their new anti-virus products for Vista, and McAfee and Symantec would have agreed. Instead, probably with the threat of a lawsuit from the two companies, and because of the two launching attack ads, they let them bypass their new security features.

This should not be happening. This is BAD for security, as once you let one program bypass security barriers it's only a matter of time before others do, not all of them friendly. This is STUPID because Microsoft has kowtowed to pressure from two companies far more focused on saving money on developing their shitty, shitty antivirus programs than actually providing any more security.

Fuck Symantec, fuck McAfee.

Re:NO NO NO. (2, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436109)

They kowtowed to a government body that has control of an entire continent. If they hadn't made Symantec and McAfee happy, they'd be right back in the EU courts having even more restrictions they can never meet and fines that will never stop shoved down their throats.

Re:NO NO NO. (1)

texaport (600120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436349)

once you let one program bypass security barriers it's only a matter of time before others do, not all of them friendly.

"Redmond said it would modify the welcome screen presented
to Vista users to include links to other security software."

Maybe the forced Vista sound at logon will play a friendly tune for Microsoft's solution, and dire music for those who bypassed it.

microsoft should... (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435927)

microsoft should offer a choice of kernels, an open one for use friendlyness and a hardened one for security, but i guess they never thought of giving their victoms ^^ er customers a choice...

And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16435941)

And of course, this new way that MS lets AV vendors bypass Patchguard isn't going to comprised by anyone at all, ever ....

How likely... (1)

trellick (67244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16435979)

Not being a troll here, but I am genuinely interested on US 'dotters opinions on this one: just how likely would've a similar decision been made in US courts, and what body would be the one to have done it?

Is it just me or... (1)

Knossos (814024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436009)

Is it just me or is this a huge security risk. By opening up the kernel to access by outside programs, you're not only allowing security vendors to access it, but also people who would seek to exploit it. Perhaps I'm just being simple-minded here, but programs that can bypass and disable inbuilt security systems seems senseless.

Re:Is it just me or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436167)

Yes, it's just you. No one else has mentioned it. /cough

Check out MS's wrongdoing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16436025)

It's here: http://malfy.org/ [malfy.org]

I don't get it... (1)

RootWind (993172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436189)

Why is it that Symantec and McAfee were complaining about it, yet Kaspersky and Sophos said it was fine? Does Symantec and McAfee do something different than Kaspersky that they can't adapt to it at all? Lazy programming?

Political Solutions to Technical Problems (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436323)

We have all seen this before, each one of us that has worked anywhere in IT for more than a month. How many times have you been asked to implement a poor system or work around to make another department or division happy because they don't want to put forth the effort to do things the right way? MS faces the same problems on a greater scale. They try to do it right but everyone on the planet tries to get them to implement their version of "right" and we end up with the best of a series of a million compromises.

blah, EU went too far (3, Insightful)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436439)

I could understand why the EU was upset about the media player bundling. I can understand them being upset about the splash screen for MSs AV stuff. I dont agree with them forcing MS to get rid of those things, but I understand where they are coming from.

Forcing MS to weaken Vista's security and reliability to accomodate these AV companies sucks though.

This is a -bad- thing. Why are we applauding it on slashdot? Are we so caught up in MS hate that we want the government to force them to weaken their product from a technical standpoint?

Maybe this is an example of how having a reputation for lying will make people think you are being dishonest even when you are telling the truth. I know a lot of people on this website dont totally understand the technical issues involved. But doesnt the EU commission have any experts that can explain to them that they are weakening Vista by forcing this on MS?

Re:blah, EU went too far (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436467)

"Are we so caught up in MS hate that we want the government to force them to weaken their product from a technical standpoint?"

In a word, Yes.

What is the point... (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16436483)

As we have realised with DVD-CSS, and DRM, exceptions like these cannot be restricted to certain parties.

Put simply, crackers will ultimately be able to use the same backdoors to do Bad Things(tm).
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