Growing antitrust concerns over Vista in Europe

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Brussels (Belgium) - The included encryption and handwriting features in the upcoming Windows Vista operating system are causing some headaches with European antitrust officials in Brussels. Several small European software vendors believe the features could give Microsoft a monopoly and render their products uncompetitive.

The extra features will be included in premium versions of Windows Vista. BitLocker encrypts data as it's written to the drive and has an optional Trusted Platform Module plug-in which ties the drive to the motherboard, presumably providing even more security.

Vista's advanced handwriting recognition will supposedly be a more accurate and refined version of the one we saw in earlier Microsoft-based Tablet PCs. In addition to recognizing text, users can "flick" their pen to perform navigation like going forward and backwards.

So far officials haven't launched a full scale inquiry into possible antitrust issues, but have sent Microsoft a letter. You may remember that Microsoft is already in hot water with the same commission over not giving competitors code access to Windows. Microsoft faced a huge one time fine along with an almost $2.5 million dollar daily fine.

Other vendors have also expressed concern over Vista's features. Anti-virus vendors McAfee and Symantec don't like Vista's Security Dashboard and have been rather public about it. The companies stated that Vista's dashboard cannot be turned off and this fact alone could confuse users in a scenario when their software delivers different messages than Microsoft's solution.