McAfee and Symantec are kicking up a fuss about one of Microsoft Vista’s security features that will prevent users from being able to run third-party security software.

Vista’s Patchguard facility is one of the most highly-touted new security features in the operating system; it locks the kernel so that it can’t be modified in any way.

The two big security software firms say that although it’s a good idea, it’s unfair and potentially dangerous unless Microsoft lets security vendors gain access. They say that hackers have already gotten through the Patchguard, so Microsoft ought to give them access so that they can develop protection from the inside out.

The Microsoft camp says that they’ve been maintaining for years that core to Vista is its enhanced security, so that protecting the kernel would be a natural step for the manufacturer.

The two security manufacturers have another serious issue about Vista, and that is that there’s no easy way to disable Windows Security Centre, which is built-in to the operating system.

This seems a clear attempt by Microsoft to lock out security software vendors so that users will come to rely on its own in-built security.

“Partners are at the core of Microsoft’s business model”, said the company. “We have worked closely with our security partners throughout the development of Windows Vista, and continue to do so.”