South Koreans warned on Vista compatibility

Government officials advise South Korean consumers that Internet and e-commerce sites may lack full compatibility with Vista.

South Korean government officials are warning consumers that Internet and e-commerce sites in that country may lack full compatibility with Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, which will become available to consumers next week.

The South Korea Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) is the latest foreign agency to weigh in on Vista's pending release with a warning. Two weeks ago, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency "strongly recommended" that schools in the U.K. avoid deploying Vista during the next 12 months, calling early deployment a "high-risk strategy."

In the case of the South Korean ministry, it announced Thursday that it is working with the South Korea Ministry of Government and Home Affairs, as well as the Financial Supervisory Service, to identify and resolve compatibility issues between Internet services and Vista.

"Internet banking, e-government services, Internet and online game portals, Internet malls and other major sites still have not met compatibility issues to Vista. Therefore consumers that plan to upgrade to Vista are strongly recommended to check out the compatibility issues with these sites beforehand," said Byungjo Suh, head of the Information Security and Privacy Bureau.

Microsoft did not immediately comment on South Korea's warnings.

Vista users in South Korea may encounter problems managing and executing security certificates and keyboard security programs for Internet banking and online games; unstable screen and printing error notifications when downloading e-documents; video uploads and downloads that halt during the loading process; and error notifications when running Audio or Flash content, according to Korean government officials.

The main issue is compatibility between ActiveX, a scripting language used by a number of Web sites, and Vista's security feature, User Account Control, according to MIC. Security experts have long complained that ActiveX potentially serves as an entry point for malicious attackers to take over users' computers. The compatibility problems emerge when running applications in Vista and trying to access Web sites using ActiveX controls.

MIC, along with the two other Korean government agencies, estimate it will take one to two months of testing to sort out all the incompatibility issues. Korean banks, stock brokerages and leading security software providers, for example, are being tested for compatibility with updated programs. The testing in those cases is expected to be completed at the end of January, in time for Vista's January 31 debut in stores.

Most major banks and Internet services have been planning for Vista and Internet Explorer 7 for some time. The browser has been out for some time now for Windows XP, although the Vista version has some slight variances.

Korean regulators have taken a particularly strong look at Vista. Microsoft said back in October that it was working on special Korea-only versions of Vista that have links to rival media player and instant messaging software, as required by a 2005 antitrust ruling.

The company is also working on versions of Vista with its media software removed, though those won't be ready in time for Vista's upcoming launch.

Hyo-Jeoung Kim of ZDNet Korea reported from Seoul.

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