October 19, 2006 11:38 AM PDT

Security rivals shut out of Microsoft meeting

An online Microsoft meeting to discuss Windows Vista changes crashed shortly after it started Thursday, and Symantec and McAfee were unable to reconnect.

Microsoft had scheduled the meeting with security companies to discuss part of the changes it has promised to make to Windows Vista in response to competitive concerns. But the conference, which used Microsoft's Live Meeting technology, crashed about 15 minutes after it started, and both Symantec and McAfee were unable to log back in.

"Microsoft hosted an online meeting this morning, but it never really got started," said Siobhan MacDermott, a McAfee spokeswoman. "Despite numerous attempts to reconnect, we were never able to get back into the meeting. However, we were notified that the meeting had ended."

Symantec had a similar experience, said Cris Paden, a company spokesman. "Our team was shut out, and only one person was able to get back in," he said.

There were some "technical difficulties" with Live Meeting, a Microsoft representative said. Those issues were resolved and the meeting resumed, the representative said.

"More than 20 partners successfully signed on and participated in the meeting," the Microsoft representative said. "To ensure that all partners are able to listen, this is the first of many meetings to come."

The meeting problems were "no big deal," Alex Eckelberry, president of anti-spyware toolmaker Sunbelt Software, wrote on his company's blog.

Microsoft accidentally sent out the wrong meeting invites, and as a result, participants signed on as presenters. "Which, if you've ever used Live Meeting, is an invitation to chaos," Eckelberry wrote.

After recognizing the error, Microsoft rescheduled the meeting for half-an-hour later. However, that didn't go well either because the meeting had been set up to end an hour after its original start. "So we were promptly all kicked off," Eckelberry wrote. "Finally, at 12:45 EDT, the meeting went as planned."

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

Other meetings are scheduled for later today, including one at 5 p.m. PDT, which Symantec and McAfee say they will try to join.

"But if the link didn't work to the Live Meeting this morning, who is going to say it is going to work this afternoon?" Paden asked. "It begs the question how sincere this outreach is, if they are not even able to put this together."

The meeting was to discuss how third-party protective software can interact with the innards of 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Security companies had requested that capability, but Microsoft denied it until last week, when it made concessions in response to European antitrust concerns.

Access to the Vista kernel is one of two concessions Microsoft made. The Redmond, Wash., software giant also is providing security companies with a way to disable alerts sent out by the Windows Security Center, if their third-party protective software is installed.

Symantec, McAfee and others had charged that Microsoft was hurting competition and creating an unfair advantage for its own products through the kernel protection and Windows Security Center features.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Office Live Meeting, online meeting, McAfee Inc., security company, Symantec Corp.

20 comments

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Surprised?
Live Meeting problems? Too bad, should not have depended on MS
technology to work.....especially in volume and especially as a
non-MS site.
Posted by georgiarat (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Low blow
Completely true, but low. :)
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
They should have...
... used iChat
Posted by MadKiwi (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is this news, CNET?
CNET, do you REALLY think that a meeting having a technical problem is NEWS? My goodness, I've had many dozens of conference calls interupted because of phone system problems. Is it a slow news day, or is your editor just some MS-basher picking and choosing your articles as if they were some sort of op-ed to slam MS?

Articles like this are what make me think CNET is often at the bottom rung of journalism, just below that tabloid with the Alien Baby headlines.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tech Issues
Tech issues are hardly the story with this one. The story is MS had a meeting with security companies about Vista, they lost connection and MS ended the meeting without figuring out what happened to the other two companies.

This sounds like they are not ready to release and they know it but don't want the security companies to have insight to this OR they just don't want to conduct business with them.

Don't you wait for all parties to reconnect before you carry on with a conference?
Posted by 8ball629 (80 comments )
Link Flag
Must be a very slow news day????
Agree. If technical problems for every on-line meeting in the world were reported today we would have nothing else to talk about. I have used all varieties of on-line tools and glitches happen. Do Symantic and MacAfee really have the time to run to the press for such petty complaints? Get a life.
Posted by Shakingmy head (48 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft = Legacy and Unstable Software
I have to agree with the last comment, Microsoft technologies failing businesses is hardly news. Any business that uses and depends on legacy Microsoft technologies already has one strike against success.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Live Meeting works
We routinely use Live Meeting at our work location and it works great. A lot of times everybody is set as a presenter because it is just easier to do so (you don't have to assign anybody a login). If you make some people read-only, then you need to send out invitations to particular people and that takes longer.

I can so easily see why this problem happened - it happens a lot where I work also... and you just need to recreate the meeting and send out the new links.

Not sure why Symantec and McAfee couldn't get back in (although one employee from Symantec could). Sounds like they simply gave up - it would make for better press anyways.

Live Meeting is a good product - and the fact that an admin. screws it up and sends out the wrong type of invites isn't Microsoft's problem.

Our business runs just fine using this product - and it's definitely not 'unstable'... and certainly not 'legacy' lol... it's all web based and smart client based.
Posted by DrakeLS (3 comments )
Link Flag
we were invited to this meeting also (me and friend)
we had issues as well, my friend runs symantec software and his machine is so slowed down and bogged down by symantec that it was unable to install any more software so it could not run Live Meeting, its the latest version to?

My issue was Mcafee firewall, after telling me 100 times that Live Meeting needed to be allowed I finally gave up! Trouble is its still telling me that I need to allow it with popups after popups?

My other friend had trendmicro and he was able to get right in?

mmm I guess go figure
Posted by mcepat (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Technology for the sake of technology
I have never been a big fan of teleconferences. From my experience you get more done with email, phone, and chat.

Looking at the list of companies involved, I would guess the problem was related to a virus.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Doubtful
Looks more like someone rushing to set up a meeting when they were not very experienced in using the software.

But this isn't news. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in meetings like this (using different software from raindance and webex) that connections have been dropped or the meeting ended before it got started good. It all boiled down to the person setting the meeting up wasn't up to snuff on how to do it.

As for Norton and McCaffee... Stop crying guys, you are starting to look very silly.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Open issues are the problem
I put my detailed comments and observations about this in The Webinar Blog (www.TheWebinarBlog.com).

In short, the problem is not that Microsoft had a technical problem (apparently through an administrative mistake), but that attendees were unable to successfully rejoin after the problem was supposedly resolved. The issue with the commenter saying that security conflicts prevented two others from attending is also disturbing.

Finally, it is interesting to ask if this could have been resolved more easily with a different product design? As one example, WebEx keeps multiple presenters from messing with the presentation space and the meeting host could have reset their authority levels.
Posted by Webinar Success (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's Microsoft, of course it's going to crash...
Surprise surprise surprise. Syamantec and McAfee couldn't reconnect and with only a week and a half before the Vista RTM is in the hands of the Systems OEMs.

What a coincidence.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's Crashed and Burned in MSFT-Only Conferences As Well
Please, please, people, a conspiracy requires competence, planning and strict discipline to assure confidentiality, qualities never ever ascribed to MSFT. In fact, LiveMeeting has crashed and burned at MSFT events before, even when it was managed within MSFT's own office environment. The only reason it got press is because of the heated issue of kernel access between MSFT and the AV vendors.

The software is simply unstable and unfinished, like most of the crappy code the company shoves out the door.
Posted by Sumatra-Bosch (526 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It caught my house on fire
This is a tuff one indeed, for Microsoft-bashers: on one hand they can claim its one of those strategies by monopolist Microsoft to shut down competitors, on the other hand, they can claim Microsoft software stinks!
Sumatra-Bosch went the 2nd route. But he should be more agressive: are you sure LiveMeeting just crashed and burned, are you sure it didn't explode and burst into flames seriously hurting 253 people? I mean, you talk like you use that software everyday, tell us about it. How bad is it, don't be naive?

Last time I checked, developing an OS for more than 90% of the computers used everyday around the world required that and perhaps even a little more, so there goes your statement. And I'd love to hear you explain me how does software "burn" exactly (if you have the time, prfessor). Maybe the only reason it got press is because it is news that LiveMeeting crashes, if it's not and they just reported this because of Symantec and McAfee, where did you get that data from, do you work in these companies, is it? Finally, I'd like to read more about your review of LiveMeeting (you seem to use it everyday, which is rather interesting, maybe to do conferences with planet "Apple" or planet "Linux", no?), maybe you have a word on Microsoft Dynamics or SharePoint or any other typical consumer software, maybe? Where did you get it from? Oh, and just because you don't know how to work with something, it doesn't always mean that "something" is wrong and not something else... ;)
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Biased article
I know everyone's pissed off at MS, but I'm still gonna say this. This article makes it sound as if the crash was engineered.

Maybe it was, but that's for the public to decide, not the journalists.
Posted by godam_registration (113 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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