Microsoft has hit back at criticisms from security vendor McAfee that it is dragging its feet in co-operating over Vista’s security readiness.

Yesterday Siobhan McDermott, McAfee communications vice president, said questions pertaining to the software development kit document it received from Microsoft yesterday had gone unanswered.

She added: "Contrary to what it says publicly, Microsoft has not co-operated with the leading security providers. In fact, we have not received anything at all from Microsoft concerning PatchGuard. It is not at all acceptable for it to wait until a service pack and not offer us kernel access until after the launch of Vista." The criticisms come hot on the heels of the software giant’s promise to the European Commission last week to provide the security vendors access to the Vista kernel.

But Microsoft hit back today, dismissing the McAfee’s comments as "inaccurate and inflammatory", pointing to the "months ahead" for the development and readiness of necessary software.

Clive Longbottom, senior director of analyst firm Quocirca dismissed McAfee’s criticisms as media opportunism, saying the security companies would have enough time to get up "It’s a moot point," Longbottom told Techworld. "But nice for McAfee to be able to say really. It isn’t a major issue at this point because companies aren’t looking at implementing Vista. They will be reviewing it on systems that don’t touch the internet to work out its potential impact on productivity, change management and training.

"They will also possibly be reviewing its security and taking to their incumbent providers. The security vendors can be up and running with Vista-ready packages within a couple of months of getting the information they need."

Longbottom added that businesses will get Vista next month, while consumers will wait until the new year when these problems should be ironed out. "Microsoft’s stuck between a rock and hard place," he added. "Although the security of Vista has been an area that has held them back, they’re damned if they release a system with holes in and have to produce patches soon after, and they’re damned if they don’t and wait."