Vista isn't security software: Symantec CEO

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

Microsoft Corp. has been touting the security features of its Windows Vista operating system as a key reason for people to switch to the latest version of its flagship product, but at least one senior security executive has turned up his nose at the notion.

John Thompson, the CEO of Symantec Corp., said he won't use Vista and consumers shouldn't be fooled by the slick, feature-laden software.

In an interview with CNet News published today, the computer and internet software security company's chief executive said that no matter how Microsoft tries to spin things, Vista isn't a security tool, it's just an operating system:

Vista is an operating system, and Vista provides some very important advances from Microsoft's perspective and for the industry's point of view on building a more stable, more reliable, more secure operating platform, but people still need the efficacy that comes with the products that Symantec and others in the industry build, and so we should not be confused by the marketing rhetoric with what Vista is. It's a hopefully much better product than XP or any of its predecessors, but it's not a security solution.

At least part of Thompson's motivation for putting his views out there are clear: naked self-interest. Microsoft has been touting the anti-spyware and anti-phishing features of its Windows Defender and Internet Explorer 7 software that ships with Vista (which are both available as free downloads for Windows XP) so much that it can leave a distinct impression that it's a one-stop shop for all of your computer security needs.

In short, Thompson was doing his level best to counterspin and make sure that people remember that there are other security tools besides the ones Microsoft offers.

But Thompson's arguments may also be justified. Microsoft issued a dozen fixes for security problems with its software – including Windows – today, although none were for Vista.

But that may be just a matter of time.