Microsoft is extending the benevolent hand of friendship towards hackers and has hosted a party for them at Malaysia’s Hack in the Box, Asia’s biggest hacker fest.

The company’s strategy is to get inside the mind of the hacker and security researchers at the conference to ultimately be able to make Vista and other software more secure.

“Everybody sees them as the big evil empire that nobody’s ever going to be able to change, but in actuality they’re changing”, Mike Davis from Honeynet explained to the BBC. “They’re making a lot of strides to communicate more with researchers and the community.”

Microsoft is engaging more with the hacker/security community because of the development of its own security software, OneCare, which was launched in June. However, Microsoft was criticised by McAfee and Symantec last week about its kernel-protecting software that the security companies say lock out third-party vendor.

But Russian computer security group Kaspersky Labs has been reported by Reuters defending Microsoft’s security measures in Vista, telling Reuters, “From what we have seen of Vista, we cannot tell that Microsoft is blocking access to the core”.

Kaspersky reasons that it doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to stop working with security companies because it would leave Vista ultimately more vulnerable.