Discussions between security vendors and Microsoft over changes made in Vista got off to a bad start yesterday when a technical glitch kept many from joining in online.

"Oops," wrote Microsoft product manager Stephen Toulouse in a blog posting. "We had a glitch where we sent out a messed up link. We're very sorry about that, it certainly was not intentional and we definitely see that was not a good thing for people to experience on such an important topic."

Security vendors were hoping to gain insight into Microsoft's plans for opening up Vista's system kernel. Microsoft set up the meeting to talk about how it plans to give security vendors access to it on 64-bit systems. It has been a contentious issue, as Microsoft had initially planned to lock software vendors such as Symantec and McAfee out of the kernel, claiming that this would make Vista more secure. The security vendors said this would harm their products, and Microsoft eventually capitulated under pressure from European Union regulators.

Microsoft rescheduled the Thursday morning Web conference after it realised it had sent out a bad LiveMeeting, but in the end some security vendors were shut out of the meeting. Most of Symantec's team, for example, was unable to attend. "It turned out that everybody on our team was not able to make the first meeting but one guy," said a Symantec spokesman.

Microsoft set up a second meeting for later in the day to take questions from those who missed the first, Paden said. A further meeting is also planned for Monday, said Toulouse.

Late week, McAfee said there was "little indication" that Microsoft planned to live up to its promise, made late last week, to work with security vendors on several issues relating to Vista. "We have been greatly disappointed by the lack of action by the company so far and Microsoft has not lived up, either in detail or in spirit, to the hollow assurances offered by their top management," said Christopher Thomas, McAfee's outside legal counsel in Brussels, in a statement.

Sunbelt Software president Alex Eckelberry wrote that the mix-up was due to an honest mistake with Microsoft's conferencing software. "Someone at Microsoft accidentally sent out the LiveMeeting presentation invites as "presenter", which if you’ve ever used LiveMeeting, is an invitation to chaos," he said. "Realising their error, the meeting was rescheduled for 30 minutes later, and that didn’t all come together, because the meeting had been originally setup to end at 12:30, so we were promptly all kicked off."

"While I have my disagreements with Microsoft on the PatchGuard issue, I must defend them in this instance," he added. "It was a case of a few honest mistakes made by well-intentioned people, probably working under a tremendous amount of stress."

Microsoft has said it expects to make new kernel APIs for security products available as part of the first major service pack, update to Vista. Security vendors are pushing to have them included sooner.