The Windows Vista security spat that's dividing Microsoft and the security industry continued today when McAfee responded to Sophos' claim that some software suppliers "hadn't coded their solutions" to work with Vista.

Yesterday UK-based Sophos criticised McAfee and Symantec's claims that Microsoft's PatchGuard prevention system had locked them out of the 64bit version of Vista.

Sophos said the pair were struggling with Vista's host intrusion prevention system simply because they hadn't coded their products with high-spec Vista in mind. The Sophos spokesperson also claimed his company's security tool would be fully Vista-compliant.

But McAfee said today that customers should be aware of the difference between security vendors that offer "comprehensive security protection" and "single-product vendors" such as Sophos.

"It's crucial people understand the difference between McAfee and those companies that focus on antivirus software alone," said Siobhan MacDermott, vice-president of corporate communications at McAfee.

"For an innovative security risk management vendor like McAfee, that offers its customers comprehensive security protection, full and unfettered access to the kernel is vital if we are to protect users as they are currently protected with XP."

Microsoft has been publicly promoting the openness of the Vista security platform in a bid to placate security vendors' concerns that their products might not work effectively with the new OS (operating system). McAfee said Microsoft was denying security firms access to Vista’s underlying technology, a move that could leave customers vulnerable.

"Microsoft's flawed logic will only result in making computers more vulnerable to viruses and other attacks because we will not able to get into and monitor the kernel, which allows us to provide security at the OS level," said MacDermott.