Adobe, Symantec Lobby to Take On Microsoft in Europe

Graphic design software maker Adobe and Internet security software maker Symantec are lobbying antitrust regulators in the European Union to block some of the features in Microsoftis Windows Vista operating system. The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that the two companies fear unfair competition from Microsoft because it plans to bundle competing features for free.

Representatives from Adobe claim that Microsoftis XPS document format is designed to compete directly with PDF. Adobe gives away the Adobe Reader for free to anyone that wants to view PDFs, and sells its Acrobat package to users that want to create PDF documents. Microsoft plans to bundle it XPS viewer and creation tools with Vista - a move that Adobe says will unfairly erode its market.

Microsoft is also bundling its own Internet security and virus protection tools in Vista with a built-in interface that leads users to its own products instead of competitors. A new Vista feature, called PatchGuard, is supposed to help protect the operating systemis core from malicious attacks, but it also blocks other software security companies from properly installing and updating their applications. Both have Symantec concerned that Microsoft is trying to cut it out of the security market.

Tom Brookes, a Microsoft spokesman, commented "Our goal is to deliver a fully innovative, secure version of Windows Vista that is compliant with EU law."

The European Unionis antitrust chief, Neelie Kroes, has warned Microsoft against including features in Windows Vista that would put competing software developers at a disadvantage. The EU has already fined Microsoft more ?497 million (about US$632.7 million) for antitrust violations relating to Windows XP, and added another ?280 million (about $356.4 million) in penalties for failing to comply with orders to change its business practices.

Microsoftis competitors will have to be patient and wait to see what the shipping versions of Vista actually include. The EU regulators canit take any action until Microsoft ships its product.

Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for Ms. Kroes, added "The commission has been giving guidance to Microsoft for over a year. But ultimately it is for Microsoft to decide how they package and sell Vista."