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Microsoft's games with Vista will makes us all pay

Microsoft is playing a bit of a game with its Vista operating system.

Last month saw several IT security vendors complain very loudly that they were unable to get access to the operating system kernel, and so code their software to interface with it at the API and machine code level.

And then the software giant relented, slightly, and allowed the third-party companies limited access, and Vista-compatible versions of their IT security applications started being released.

Last week we had Jim Allchin, Microsoft' co-president, claim there was no need for anti-virus software on Vista, and that his seven-year-old was happily surfing the Net using Vista without any IT security software.

And now the Microsoft spin-doctor machine claims that Allchin's comments were `misunderstood' and yes, there really is a need for third-party IT security software to run alongside Vista.

But it's not as simple as that. Vista has a kernel patch protection feature, originally designed to prevent hackers from accessing the kernel, but it also makes life difficult for programmers with third-party vendors, who want to link at the API/machine code level.

In previous versions of Windows, Microsoft freely provided data tables detailing the read/write machine code points, and so allowed third-party applications to access the kernel.

That facility is no longer available to third-party vendor programmers, who also have to content with the jump from 32-bit to 64-bit programming.

The bottom line is that third-party programmers are having a miserable time with Vista. It's a real pain to program for.

This isn't a good situation. Ultimately the consumer will pay the price in the form of delayed commercial applications, as well as limited numbers of shareware and freeware packages.

And whose fault will it be? That's right - Microsoft's. Thanks a lot guys...