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article imageMicrosoft Lashes Back At McAfee, Calling its PR Engine Out of Touch with Reality

By Digital Journal Staff     Oct 11, 2006 in Business
Digital Journal — Symantec started the public hanging of Microsoft’s upcoming operating system Windows Vista, and it looks like McAfee has showed up to tighten the noose.
Responding to Microsoft’s plan to increase security in Vista, McAfee reportedly took out an ad in the Financial Times where CEO, George Samenuk, says Microsoft is “increasing [the] security risk with Vista.”
"We won't remain silent as Microsoft imposes unnecessary security risks” Samenuk says in the ad. “Microsoft's new approach is misguided in principle, bad for innovation and competition.”
McAfee is up in arms over Microsoft’s PatchGuard system that hides operating system code.
"We want a level playing field," Jeremy Burton, group president of Symantec's security and data management group, told Information Week. “We want the same access to the operating system as their engineers and developers. Let us integrate; we can do a better job of integrating security than Microsoft can."
Better? That probably depends who you ask.
As the Guardian Unlimited points out, PatchGuard only appears in 64-bit versions of Windows and it was introduced two years ago — McAfee’s public ad failed to mention that fact. And in reality, the PatchGuard has no effect on McAfee’s 32-bit Windows programs.
Ben Fathi, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's security technology unit, told the Guardian Unlimited McAfee is misrepresenting facts and "taking a very small molehill and making a mountain out of it. They think that yelling and screaming is going to make their points true, and that's not the case.”
Fathi says Microsoft is giving full access to PC labs where Vista is being built to all security vendors, with staff on-hand in Redmond to help. Furthermore, Fathi says McAfee is currently working with Microsoft to fix these issues, and this case represents a PR engine not in touch with reality.
“I hate to say this,” Fathi said to the Guardian Unlimited, "but we're seeing an example of the doctor wanting to keep the patient sick. To us it seems clear: They stand to lose a chunk of their market if Windows becomes more secure."
Kudos to Microsoft for not side-stepping or dancing around an issue. This type of honesty doesn't usually come out in the public boardroom.
For more info, check out the Guardian Unlimited
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