Microsoft Spies a Whole New Market
Friday, January 7, 2005; 9:55 AM
The markets took notice after Microsoft's announcement yesterday, which also included plans for a free anti-virus tool. Shares of McAfee Inc. and Symantec Corp. dropped on news of the new player on the block.
The Washington Post wrote that Microsoft's "release marked a new foray for the software giant and prompted several analysts to suggest that the company would eventually enter the market for computer security software." Microsoft's anti-virus and anti-spyware software plans "could signal tougher times ahead for desktop security vendors, as Microsoft uses its size and influence to expand into markets now dominated by those companies, industry experts say," IDG News Service reported. The same article said "antivirus companies should now be on notice that Microsoft is coming, even if they somehow missed the software giant's earlier rumblings about entering the security market, says Laura Koetzle, an analyst at Forrester Research."
The Washington Post: Microsoft Offers Anti-Spyware Software (Registration required)
IDG News Service via PC World: Microsoft Sends Shivers Through Antivirus Market
Microsoft's anti-spyware plans are a result of its December acquisition of anti-spyware maker Giant Company Software.
"Now dubbed Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware, Giant's former product is being released as a free download at Microsoft's Web site (www.microsoft.com/athome/security). Microsoft said the software is still in unfinished, or 'beta,' form and would not say when consumers can expect a final product," The Washington Post reported. Reuters wrote that the Giant-based program "eliminates programs that generate unwanted pop-up ads and secretly record a computer user's activities."
Reuters: Microsoft Offers Anti-Spyware Program
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times ran an Associated Press article on the news, reporting that Microsoft says the software isn't intended to compete with the security industry's products. "But a senior Microsoft executive confirmed the company's plans to sell its own anti-virus software, which would compete against programs from McAfee, Symantec and others," the wire service reported.
The Associated Press via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Microsoft Offers Free Anti-Virus Programs
The Wall Street Journal wrote more in this vein: "Mike Nash, head of Microsoft's security business said the new malware tools, available through the Windows Update Web site, are 'no way a substitute for traditional antivirus software,' but are intended to provide a measure of protection for the approximately two-thirds of computer users who haven't installed antivirus software. Symantec's recent agreement to purchase Veritas Software Corp. was in part motivated by its need to reduce its exposure to the consumer antivirus market in the face of Microsoft's anticipated entry."
The Wall Street Journal: Microsoft Offers Free Software To Fight 'Spyware' and Viruses (Subscription required)
One analyst, speaking to the Wall Street Journal, gave Symantec some hope. "Over time, if you look at the history of how [Microsoft has] approached new [segments] in the software industry, it is conceivable to think within the next three to five years, they'll get a meaningful piece of the market. But I do not think Symantec will lose significant market share in the near term," said analyst Ken Kiarash of Buckingham Research Group. Tony Ursillo, an analyst at Loomis Sayles & Co. in Boston told Bloomberg: "Microsoft has been getting so much heat about security flaws in their browser and operating system it's probably damaged the franchise a bit. This is a necessary step for Microsoft. The gravy is these are good businesses."
The Wall Street Journal: Parsing Microsoft's Move Into the Anti-Virus Market (Subscription required)
Bloomberg via Newsday: Microsoft To Offer Free Spy ware, Antivirus Tools