The Final Word – Jim Allchin Letter Clarifies Patchguard on Vista

Jim Allchin posted up a public letter that clears up any possible confusion on what API changes will or will not be in the initial version of Windows Vista.  It isn’t that long, so read it yourself here:

For those that simply won’t click through, here are the key bits:

Here is what we are doing to maintain the integrity and security of 64-bit Windows, while still addressing the needs of our security partners:

Contrary to some media reports, Microsoft will not weaken the security of 64-bit Windows by enabling some applications to modify the kernel of the operating system.

We have applied our no-exceptions policy against kernel patching to Microsoft applications as well as third party applications, consistent with our Windows Principles. No application can bypass or weaken Kernel Patch Protection—this is essential to improving security and reliability for you. Note that many third-party security companies provide highly competitive products without modifying the Windows kernel in unsupported ways.

For legitimate third-party applications that have intentionally patched the 32-bit Windows kernel in unsupported ways, Microsoft will continue to work with these third-parties to identify, prioritize, design and develop new interfaces for 64-bit Windows that will help their applications perform needed tasks, without directly modifying, bypassing or weakening Kernel Patch Protection. We have already begun discussions with the engineering teams of major third-party security vendors about the functionality they are seeking.

Microsoft will continue to work closely with others in the software industry to resolve any interoperability issues that may arise, particularly any issues that arise from our efforts to ensure that Windows Vista is more secure and reliable by design.

In short, we are committed to providing the best operating system we can for you – one that you can depend on and feel safe using. With this goal in mind we will continue to work very constructively with others in the industry consistent with our Windows Principles.

Regards ~ Jeff

About the Author
Jeff Jones

Principal Cybersecurity Strategist

Jeff Jones a 27-year security industry professional that has spent the last decade at Microsoft working with enterprise CSOs and Microsoft's internal teams to drive practical and measurable security improvements into Microsoft products and services. Additionally, Jeff analyzes vulnerability trends Read more »