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Microsoft Plans to Develop APIs for Vista

To avoid antitrust penalties in Europe, Microsoft is prepared to develop Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to facilitate security firms' access to Vista. The company is now making them available.

Software makers can use the new APIs to add to the functionality of the Windows kernel in the 64-bit editions of Vista, Microsoft wrote on its website. Security firms, including Symantec and McAfee, who lead the market, however, complained that Microsoft has separated the APIs from the kernel, a fundamental component of Windows.

At first, Microsoft only desired to stop kernel manipulations in the 64-bit versions of its operating systems. But under the pressure from the EU Commission, the company had to change its plan. Microsoft is now thinking to introduce the new APIs with Service Pack 1 of Windows Vista, in 2008.

The APIs will equip security and non-security software creators with the power to make software that can increase the advantages of the Windows kernel on 64-bit systems in a documented way. The APIs are designed neither to disable nor weaken the kernel patch protection, said Microsoft.

The APIs will also enable security firms to remove malicious manipulations and image loading executions, as they will command irrespective of applications being loaded or altered.

The APIs may also be applied on the 32-bit version of Vista. Since only 'signed drivers' will be able to control the new interfaces, they may provide it with a more secure build up.

The recent programming interfaces are aimed for third parties to extend functions to the operating systems' kernel in a documented manner with Microsoft's support. Microsoft has invited security firms to submit proposals for changes or improvements in the draft.

The largest security software developer, Symantec, has admitted receipt of Microsoft material but has not furnished any detailed comment. A company representative said that it was assessing the information and awaiting further information from Microsoft.

George Heron, chief scientist at McAfee, said they were happy with Microsoft's APIs. On conducting a preliminary study of the API specifications, the company found that Microsoft included some of its recommendations.

Related article: Microsoft Patches Live OneCare to Tackle Quarantined E-Mails

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