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Symantec Is On Guard

Security vendor Symantec has quietly lodged an unofficial complaint against Microsoft to European Commission antitrust regulators over the software giant's recent entry into the security market.

The complaint, which followed Microsoft announcement yesterday that it plans to expand its security protection services with the launch of two new products, could mean another round of antitrust litigation against the software maker.

The security offerings, part of a two-pronged strategy of partnerships and products outlined by Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer, is what has Symantec concerned. Cupertino, Calif.- based Symantec has taken issue with Microsoft's plan to bundle its security software with Windows Vista, the next major version of the Windows operating system.

A Symantec spokeswoman told internetnews.com in an email that the company had not filed a formal complaint with the European Commission but did respond to its requests for information.

"As we've said in the past, we will compete with Microsoft in the markets, not in the courts as long as there is a level playing field," she said. "The information we provided was to assist the government in understanding the complexity of the security industry and our role in it."

Microsoft said it valued its relationship with Symantec and would continue to work openly and collaboratively with them on a number of issues. However, the company insisted it was complying with EC rules.

"An integral part of our product development process is keeping competitors, regulators and the industry informed," a spokeswoman said in an email. "We have kept the Commission very closely informed of all Microsoft’s plans for new technology development and we will continue to respond quickly and comprehensively to any request for information."

The Commission is the executive branch of the European Union.

In an earlier ruling, the Commission found Microsoft had abused its monopoly position and levied a record fine of $613 million last March. The Commission also required Microsoft to un-bundle its Windows Media Player software from Windows in European markets.