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Microsoft unlocks Vista kernel for security software

Microsoft has agreed to provide some essential data from its forthcoming operating system release to software security firms, following its earlier decision to withhold access.

Microsoft has agreed to provide some essential data from its forthcoming operating system release to software security firms, following its earlier decision to withhold access.

The software giant told Reuters news agency yesterday that it will give McAfee, Symantec and other security firms access to the kernel of the 64-bit version of Vista, which is due for release in January. Microsoft used to allow access to security firms, but announced a change in policy ahead of the release of Vista.

Two weeks ago, security firms complained that Microsoft was not allowing them access to the kernel, which meant it was harder for them to develop patches for vulnerabilities in the system.

Microsoft has promised the data in order to comply with European Union regulations linked to competition issues. The codes will allow security software from other vendors to suppress Microsoft’s own security pop-ups.

Chief executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, told Reuters that the firm would deliver the data to security firms yesterday during US working hours.

A spokesperson for Symantec said at the time of the original decision: “By putting the core of the Vista operating system into a ‘lock box’, and not allowing the software of security vendors to access the core, Microsoft is tying the hands of customers from using the widest variety of security solutions to secure their computers and networks.”

Microsoft’s Middle East office was given the opportunity to comment on the earlier story, but did not do so.

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