Will Vista Decimate Third Party Security Sales? Is That An Antitrust Issue?

from the seems-unlikely dept

The computer security business always seems like a difficult business to be in — because the more successful you are, the less need there is for your product. That always seems like a dangerous business to be in, and one where people may often question the incentives involved. At the same time, Microsoft keeps insisting that its new operating system, Vista, will have much better security — which, of course, will likely make many people laugh. However, an analyst firm is predicting that the included security offerings will be good enough that it could make life difficult for some third party security software providers in the firewall and antispyware space. Given that Microsoft’s security efforts haven’t always gone over so well in the past, it may be a bit premature to assume that they’ll be successful here. In fact, Microsoft already includes a firewall offering, but many users feel it’s nowhere near as good as plenty of third party offerings. However, this does bring up the same question we asked a year ago. If Microsoft is including all this security software in their operating system, do they get accused of antitrust violations for “bundling” this security software with the operating system? After all, isn’t that what they’re repeatedly accused of doing with things like Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player? Of course, this seems a bit absurd when you think about it. Would the same accusations hold in a fantasy world where Microsoft produced perfectly secure code (remember, I said a fantasy world)? It would seem like the act of making their products secure would leverage their monopoly power to suppress a thriving industry in security software…

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Comments on “Will Vista Decimate Third Party Security Sales? Is That An Antitrust Issue?”

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Dom says:

A joke

I think these antitrust cases are a joke. Why shouldn’t Microsoft bundle software they make themselves with the operating system they make themselves? Just like with their browser and media player, there’ll be people who find their security products sub-par, and will choose a third-party product.

Exiled From the mainstream says:

Course not

Mechanics would just charge more to fix cars if they broke down less anyway.

And microsoft making good security…excuse me while I bust a gut laughing please. BUWHAHAHHHghAHAHHAAHHHAHAH OH GOD THATS RICH!! HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHahhahahaha… oh god thats a good one.

But seriously. Every hacker or script kiddie targets microsoft, making the security better wont keep them out unless they patch it DAILY! Its a never ending fight and security partys wont make the flawless system because one it dont exist, and two because that’d put them outta buisness.

DreadedOne509 says:

Anti-trust? Hell yes!

I believe the point of all this discussion is this, Microsoft makes the operating system that is literally riddled with security holes. They then produce a seperate ‘for pay’ software package that supposedly fixes them? That is a sure fire way to stay in business, let’s keep (and possibly make) security flaws in our flagship software and then sell fixes for it…they will never go out of business this way.

You would think that they would integrate it into the OS to begin with, you know, fix what they broke and no additional cost to the consumer.

And yes, I do know that they are integrating some of the fixes into the OS, but they are also selling that One Care crap on the side. Kind of like GM making a car that blows up whenever you brake and turn left at the same time, then selling a computer chip that fixes the problem for $5000.00 extra. Criminal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anti-trust? Hell yes!

Kind of like GM making a car that blows up whenever you brake and turn left at the same time, then selling a computer chip that fixes the problem for $5000.00 extra. Criminal.

No, its even more insideous than that. Its like they sold a car that is not 100% perfect, and then sold a warranty to cover the possibility of breakdown. Or hell, what if they charged a monthly fee for a service plan that even performed free oil changes and other similiars..

The horror.. We woudl definitely need the government to step in if THAT ever started happening.

ThreeToedSloth says:

I don’t care how well designed a piece of software is, it can be cracked to pieces if enough people and effort is put into it. Example? Two operating systems:

SlothWare O/S 12 – (windows-like OS)

MS Vista

Both have equal levels of security and coding, but there’s going to be about 48,000 hackers working on Vista… on slothware, you may get 3.

Simple numbers peoples. No matter how good Microsoft makes ANYTHING, the label name of the software makes it NUMBERO UNO on the hackers list.

The perfect programmer could never make an uncrackable code with those kinda odds

Topher31 (profile) says:

Well, ask if OSX is an anti-trust issue

I mean, Symantec and McAfee and all the rest are not making any money off the Mac OSX platform simply because there isn’t any (or rare) viruses or security issues on that platform. Same goes (but not as strong a case) for Linux. So, shouldn’t those companies sue Apple for antitrust for not supplying an OS that creates a market for them?

I am being facetious, but I can’t stand the double standards that constantly are applied against Microsoft but ignored by every other software company and OS maker.

So, Vista will be more secure. Whether that comes from bundled Firewall and Anti-virus/spy/spam tools, or whether that comes from tighter security in their networking and kernels, you can’t expect an OS to continue to leave gaping security holes in their OS just because some 3rd party Firewall/anti-virus maker is getting rich off of it.

I believe there are certain features that MUST comes with an OS, these are not optional components. Network Security, Media handling (simple playback of all media types), Internet Browsing and support for simple data types like text, xml, etc. This is what I consider the minimum functions of an OS. Microsoft gets challenged every time they add a “value-added” application, but these are simply required features of an OS.

OSX and Linux come with bundled features, and nobody bats an eye, but Microsoft integrates a web browser (which, BTW, nobody likes anymore), or some simple firewall/anti-virus feature, and suddenly its fair game to attack Microsoft.

Anyways, Microsoft being who they are, I am sure that Symantec and McAfee have nothing to worry about. Expect years of REQUIRED 3rd party security features for Vista and any upcoming OS in Microsoft’s future. Largely this point is moot, its just bitching for the sake of not having something else to bitch about Microsoft today.

Mark B. (user link) says:

Re: Well, ask if OSX is an anti-trust issue

There seems to be three distinct issues of discussion here: 1) If Microsoft bundles security software, is it an antitrust violation, 2)Does increased security of code, e.g. the supposed improvements in Vista and the seemingly secure state of OSX, pose antitrust threats, and 3) The neverending debate over MS versus Mac security.

1. So long as Microsoft offers the ability to turn off/uninstall any bundled software, there exists a reasonable market for competitors to offer superior products. Competing for marketshare is not synonymous with intentionally attempting to secure a market monopoly. If Microsoft wants to offer for free what others choose to charge for, that is their perrogative. Long live capitalism and free trade.

2. A secure operating system can in no way be construed as an antitrust violation. There is no element of competition or opposing products to even analyze.

3. PCs have been the market leader (by a vast majority) for over 20 years. At one point, 85% of the computing world – and over 95% of non-professional consumers – were using PCs. I am personally thrilled that Macintosh is gaining popularity – I believe it will serve to expedite progress on both platforms – but the reason there are fewer Mac exploits is plain and simple: There is no joy to the hacker who poisons the smallest fish, and it’s much easier to aim for the larger target. Ask anyone who has used a Mac prior to 2002, and they will tell you of freeze ups (more elegant than the BSOD, but equally annoying) and contrary to belief, Macs are not impervious to malicious scripts. In the coming years, as hopefully Macs gain a bit more market share, you will see these exploits surface… or maybe not. Maybe the pressure from Mac’s rising popularity has motivated Microsoft to offer the kind of product we’ve always known they were capable of.

Closing thoughts: I’m a developer. I have a multi-boot system running Windows, Vista (Preview,) and Linux. My first impressions are that Vista will deliver the goods to anyone fortunate enough to own a 64-bit machine. 32-bit users may be a bit disappointed. The security features are impressive, but admittedly, the OS is installed on such a small footprint of users – much like the Mac – that there are probably no real threats so far. Ultimately, we’ll all just have to wait and see.

My 2 cents.

Mark Richards (user link) says:

Doesn't matter what you do

No matter what software you develop these days, you run the risk of going up against MS if you prove that a sufficient market actually exists.

Look around – that’s what MS does! They provide the best software development tools and wait for people to innovate. Once the market is proven, they leverage their vast pile of cash to consume the space.

George says:


I think it’s people like “Exiled From the mainstream” and “Me” who need to shut the hell up and go and learn something about building software before they go around touting that ‘lInUx RuLzzx u GoTtA uSe It D00d, M$ sUxx0Rz”. I absolutely detest people like this, and will gladly punch them in the e-face because of their blatant retardness.

I find it unfair that the majoroty of people who use the internet run windows, yet they feel the need to bash it at any given opportunity. Yes i’ve heard the excuses, that windows runs everything they need etc, but really, compared to linux, windows is infinitely more useful for what consumers actually need it for, and that is driver support for peripherals, word processing, internet and gaming. Linux does two of these well, but without others its nearly useless. You can have your dual-boots and such, but who the hell will restart just to use the internet.

Anyone who has the knowledge to install and properly use linux is perfectly able to secure windows from any internet attacks. In my opinion Vista will be a big milestone for microsoft, and a great product.

So learn how to use your head, faggots, before you go around spreading ideas that are not your own.

godric says:


If the Kernel was open source, a lot of the security issues would not be issues any longer. We could harden it to the point of ultra paranoia and then go in and recode the applications so they are hardened.

But since MS is not into letting us fix their broken code for them, they can piss off. Let their software suffer the inevitable fate. This is why Linux is so much better. And since Mac runs on a secure platform, there is no need to really harden it any further. Once Mac moves to an Intel platform, it has more potential to be compromised.

DreadedOne509 says:

Some seem to have missed the point of what Anti-trust really is.

I think it’s great that MS is building anti-younameithere software to make their products more secure. The ‘anti-trust’ part comes in when they create the holes in the software to begin with, then charge for a seperate service/application to fix it. Isn’t that what their OneCare is?

MS Engineer #1 ” Heya No#2, I put this hole in our security code that is being updated tomorrow on all of our supported operating systems.”

MS Engineer #2 “Heya No#1, great news, send me the code, and I’ll make another patch we can include in our OneCare package that will be sent out to only our paying customers next month to fix it.”

MS Engineer #3 talking to wife on phone “Hey baby, good news, this OneCare scam is working out better than expected. We’ll be able to retire to Switzerland by Christmas!”


Chris says:

Re: DreadedOne509

Imagine that! Charging for virus and firewall updates! Thats just as bad as Symantec, or Macaffee, or any other pay for updates virus checker.

I don’t see how this is an issue. If it was, then doesn’t that make car dealerships charging for servicing cars an issue? Or what about electrical retailers doing repairs on washing machines?

People need to get out of the whole “It’s Microsoft, so they must be doing something evil!” frame of mind.

DreadedOne509 says:

Re: Re: DreadedOne509

Chris, you’re missing my point. I have no problem with MS integrating applications that do ‘good’ things for us. I do however have an issue with MS making the problems to begin with, then charging people more money to fix it.

And I am not saying they do intentionally create problems to justify thier OneCare subscription, but how would we know if they were not?

Why do we need anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewalls on Windows systems? Because MS, by design has allowed these problems to flourish. Then they want us to pay more money on top of what we have already paid for the software to fix it? Thats bullshit, plain and simple. If you can’t see that, you are a hopeless fanboi and need to get a job with MS if you are not already working for them…

Viceroy says:

Re: Re: Re: DreadedOne509

Oh, how the ignorant must struggle in life. Look DreadedOne, when you say you have a problem with MS “making” the problems…you are missing the point. The problems are inherent to any MASSIVE development endeavor which just by it’s nature will never be leak proof. When you say they are charging you to fix the issues, I guess your too short sighted to realize that, no, they’re not. When any security hole is identified, Microsoft’s top priority is releasing a patch as soon as it’s possible (generally within a day or two, I’ve seen patches in as little as two hours.) These patches can be downloaded for free. Your argument that they might be developing software knowing full well of any security holes is RIDICULOUS.
It doesn’t take a BS in economics (which based on your post, I think a high school education is stretching it in your case) to realize that Microsoft stands to make far more money by making proactive efforts to produce as secure an OS as possible and thereby strengthen it’s name. And even if none of that were true, it’s America (unless your in France or some other whiney ass country) and you’re free to choose which security utilities you install and use on your computer. That fact alone is just another nail in the coffin of your argument.

Stephen Ancona says:

Regarding Apple's "Secure" Platform

Just as a comment to the people out there saying that Microsoft has huge security holes that OSX and Linux does not have, this isn’t necessarily true, I will admit that Microsoft has security holes, I’m not a diehard fan of Microsoft by any means, hell I haven’t paid for a copy of the OS ever, I’ve run many different distro’s of Linux and even run a x86 version of OSX. The reason I use windows as my primary OS is because of the operating systems available it’s the most versatile. Sure I can emulate a windows environment for gaming on Linux and OSX, sure I can use OpenOffice.org instead of Microsoft Office, but why would I want to?

For anyone who doesn’t want to pay the premium for Microsoft software it’s pretty easy to find, so that reason is null, then yes I can play BF2 on Linux or OSX, but I can’t get 50 frames on either even with the same hardware. Think about that.

The reason Windows gets so many virus’ isn’t that it has huge security holes, the reason is hackers don’t have OSX or Linux, they want to affect the largest group possible, as long as there are more consumers running Windows then Linux of OSX there will be more virus’ for Windows, that’s just how it works…

marc (user link) says:

Security Yes! WMP No!

I seriously don’t think Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player should be compared to added security in Vista!

The IE and the WMP are added on extras, while more (or should I say enough?) security seems to be the bare basics of any operation system. The third party security providers are at the moment just trying to fix the mistakes MS makes, why should MS not be allowed to fix the errors themselves? It seems ridiculous that MS should ship a broken and vulnerable product just so that those security companies should survive! On the other side, they do have an extremely strong monopoly position and including WMP and IE does not fix errors but uses the monopoly to leverage other products! I could easily imagine a situation in a few years where MS adds a “SkypeOut” function to the Messenger everyone will be using MS Voice services (Or whatever they will call it) This would be a good thing, if there was a serious competition in the market and this would give MS a competitive edge, but them Microsoft has an unfair monopoly and should take the responsibilities that come with this!

Viceroy says:

Microsoft: The Whipping Boy of the Ignorant

All I have to say is that from reading some of these posts, they would have you believe that Microsoft’s software is equivalent to a Yugo in the car industry. AnonymousCoward has it right with, “If Vista was actually secure and put the third party security businesses out of business they would be accused of anti-trust. If it wasn’t secure they would be bashed because the operating system wasnt secure. Microsoft cant win”
Speaking as a software developer, even the smallest of OS’s is a HUGE development endeavor. Even with all the unit testing, secure development methodology and you-name-it efforts to produce “secure” code, humans will never be infallible creatures. If the Mac had as big a market share as Windows, a proportionate amount of the hacker’s time would be aimed at them. I think then the whole argument of “Mac=secure” and “Windows=insecure” would could then be seen for what it is: inaccurate. The reason Microsoft is so successful is not because they keep others down with market monopolies, it’s because for all intents and purposes they make decent software that gets the job done.

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