Yet Another Antitrust Challenge for Microsoft?

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Two engineers at the computer security firm Symantec are coming to Brussels next week to discuss the antitrust threat posed to their company by the upcoming version of Microsoft's Windows, dubbed Vista, a Symantec spokesperson said Thursday.

Vice President for Consumer Engineering Rowan Trollope and a senior engineer in the technology strategy office, Bruce McCorkendale, will press their case to the European antitrust regulator, the European Commission.

Vista is due to launch at the beginning of next year.

Microsoft Has Been Warned

The Commission has warned Microsoft about the possible impact on competition of Vista's built-in security software. The regulator fears that by including a sophisticated antivirus program in Vista, this could have a similar effect to the bundling of Media Player with Windows XP.

Two and a half years ago the Commission ruled that the bundling of Media Player into Windows was anticompetitive and ordered Microsoft to launch a second version of Windows without Media Player. It also fined the company nearly $634 million.

Meanwhile, Adobe Systems has told European Union regulators that Microsoft should be banned from bundling in free competing software for reading and writing electronic documents into Vista, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal Europe.

The paper cites unnamed people familiar with the situation.

Security Issue or Non-Issue?

Adobe's and Symantec's lobbying moves will come as no surprise to the Commission. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote to Microsoft in March expressing concern about Vista's impact on competition, and cited the computer security and document reader and writers sectors as examples of where Microsoft's bundling strategy might pose competition problems.

However, earlier this week Kroes insisted she wasn't calling for Microsoft to launch Vista without any security system.

"I have seen it suggested that the Commission may seek to prevent Microsoft from improving the security of its operating system. This is categorically not the case," she wrote in a letter to the Financial Times newspaper.

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