With Vista just released to manufacturing, Bill Gates told reporters in Europe that antitrust concerns had not caused Microsoft to cut features from the operating system. Gates insisted that “the idea that we should make Windows better is a pretty pro-consumer idea,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although his company has had discussions for years with regulators, Gates said that none of them ever insisted that specific features be removed from Vista. The main regulator that concerns Microsoft is the European Commission, which has already fined the software giant millions of euros and has entertained visits from many Microsoft rivals. The Commission has repeatedly said that it will not issue an approval to products in advance, since doing so would amount to government censorship. And while the Commission itself may not have asked Microsoft to remove any features, the company was certainly aware of what competitors were making trips to Brussels.
These included several security vendors concerned about the expansion of Microsoft’s security offerings, and Gates had nothing postive to say about his rivals. He told reporters that competitors wanted to “castrate” the new operating system, which begs the obvious question: if Vista gets castrated, does it just become one of many UNIX?
Competitors did convince Microsoft to make some changes, but the company argues that it has not made Vista any less secure as a result. Sven Hallauer, the Director of Program Management at Microsoft, said in a separate statement that “security is top of mind for all who work at Microsoft.” He pointed to the company’s Secure Development Lifecycle plan for writing better code as an example of the process changes that Microsoft has made in order to increase security. Hallauer claims that an analysis of reported problems with Windows XP shows that the majority of them would be eliminated or reduced simply by switching to Vista.
Business users can find out whether the hype matches the reality on November 30, when Microsoft is planning a launch party for its corporate customers. Consumers will have to wait until January 30.