Windows 7 means testing times for antivirus firms

New OS less issues than Vista?

New OS less issues than Vista?

With Microsoft's next desktop operating system, Windows 7 on the horizon, security application developers have been busy working out what it means for them.

With any new Microsoft OS, application vendors need to work with the OS manufacturer to determine what areas need to be addressed to ensure their products will work effectively with the new operating system.

According to David Rowles, director of product development at antivirus company Sophos, security vendors get involved with the development of an OS fairly early on to make sure their products are ready when it's released to the public.

"OS vendors tend to have programmes to work with security vendors on new releases where we have regular discussions and collaboration concerning the software. Sometimes this includes being able to influence proposed changes and requests for changes we would like to see," he told

With security software, the main areas likely to be most affected by a new operating system include kernel interfaces, driver models, memory process, network, registry and configuration.

Once the issues with these areas have been identified, development teams can then get down to working out how to address them within the applications.

Following this fact-finding and development phase, the majority of time before the release of the operating system is taken up with testing the security applications with release candidate versions of the platform.

Security firms will also advise customers about aspects of security that they need to be aware of when adopting the new OS.

A spokesman for Symantec told work that needs to be done when a new OS emerges depends on the "ambitions of the operating system". Compared to the change from XP to Vista, the transition to Windows 7 is much more straightforward, he said.

"It's a different task we have this time in terms of the focus… but at the end of the day a release of a new operating system always requires us to do an awful lot of testing."

However, Windows 7 isn't proving to be too much of a headache for Symantec. "We're not finding many gotchas in terms of the public beta that's out there," the spokesman added.

Sophos' Rowles agreed: "We don't really have any issues with Windows 7 and it is more about testing than development for us."

"For us, it mostly involves modifying existing technology," he added.