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The EU calls for Microsoft to remove security features from Vista

It looks as though Microsoft and European regulators are butting heads once again. The European Union is asking Microsoft to remove new security features, including its improved built-in firewall, that have been added to Vista. Microsoft is urging the European to back off and has threatened to delay Vista’s European launch as a result of the latest calls for feature reductions. The new features, which make Vista a more stable and secure platform that its Windows XP predecessor, are seen as a stifling competition. "Less diversity and innovation would ultimately harm consumers through reduced choice and higher security risks," said Jonathon Todd, an EU competition spokesman.

Microsoft's Associate General Counsel, Erich Andersen, is trying to help the software giant walk the line balancing security with abiding by the law. "We are concerned that [regulators] might require the removal of some of the security features we've demonstrated. 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. One of principal concerns is that European concerns have access to the same new security features in Windows Vista as everyone else."

Making Windows more secure was a pivotal design point for Windows Vista. The Windows XP operating system has been the target of numerous attacks in the past five years and Microsoft saw fit to make its consumer operating system less of a target. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the European Union wants the company to leave those duties to 3rd party software developers.

Microsoft was fined $634 million USD in 2004 by the European Union for monopolistic practices and was fined another $357 million USD this past July for not complying with antitrust rulings.

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I can see the future!
By brystmar on 9/12/2006 5:03:19 PM , Rating: 5
Here is a list of future events as I see them happening, in sequence:

1) EU forces MS to release Vista with only barebones security built in.

2) MS complies and releases Vista as requested, but includes disclaimers that people have to OK before installing the OS which says Vista doesn't have alot of security built in. MS highly recommends users install a security suite to accompany Vista.

3) Consumers ignore this warning just like we ignore every other superfluous warning or disclaimer when installing software. Many users run Vista for months without any additional security or protection programs.

4) Security flaws, vulnerabilities, and exploits are found in Vista. This was inevitable. The above customers get attacked, get viruses, or their computers become overwhelmed by spyware and other malware. Data is lost or corrupted. Said customers are furious and hire lawyers to sue MS.

5) MS faces a class action lawsuit in Europe for their gross negligence of releasing an OS without an adequate amount of built-in protection/security. MS points to their disclaimer that must be accepted before installing the OS, but the lawyers argue that their negligence was so great in this area that it supercedes the verbose warning shown to every user installing the OS.

6) MS loses and is forced to pay a ridiculous sum of money to in fees. They are also ordered to remove Vista from store shelves until an update for it can be released which provides a vaguely-defined "adequate" level of protection for the OS.

7) Much debate over the definition of "adequate" ensues when MS' first version of the update is rejected because it "stifles competition in the computer security programs market". MS is fined another ungodly sum for its non-compliance.

8) The CEO of MS pulls Vista from the shelves in all of Europe and tells them they can simply live without it. MS continues to sell unmodified versions of Vista around the world, most of which knows that they can simply not use the built-in features if they so choose. *

* Ok so #8 probably won't happen, but I'd be really happy if MS told the EU to F off and announced that it simply would no longer sell Windows OSes in Europe if this is how they would be treated. Anti-trust and monopoly prevention measures are one thing, but this crap is just getting ridiculous...

RE: I can see the future!
By dwalton on 9/12/2006 5:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
Highly unlikely. All MS has to do is point to the EU and say "Hey, they legally forced us to do this".

May a class action lawsuit against the EU would be a better choice.

RE: I can see the future!
By TomZ on 9/12/2006 8:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
More likely - EU forces to release a Vista "N" version, and allows European customers to decide to get, for the same price, the standard version or the "N" version. And by no surprise, 99% of consumers choose the version with the bundled features.

RE: I can see the future!
By xebax on 9/13/06, Rating: -1
RE: I can see the future!
By CSMR on 9/13/2006 12:13:14 PM , Rating: 3
Please do not take this person as representative of all people in EU countries. There are many people in the EU who are both sensible and law abiding.

RE: I can see the future!
By Crassus on 9/13/2006 1:31:53 PM , Rating: 2
a) There is no such thing as a class action law suit possible in any EU country's legal system I'm aware of.

b) In highly governmental regulated economies, as found in Europe, it is usually a perfectly valid defense against Product Liablility law suits to point to compliance with the applicable regulations. (=If it complies with the regulations, it's not defenctive)

c) Tort damages will only get you damages for actually caused harm/loss. There's no such thing as punitive damages (to some extend they exist in the UK, but if my memory serves me right, that would not be available in a case like the one envisioned here).

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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