Independent Vendors Say They
Still Have the Edge"> Jaquith, who pegs todays Windows security software aftermarket at roughly $3.6 billion, said companies are increasingly looking for integrated defense applications that address multiple forms of malicious code, which will give Client Protection an advantage and challenge some of its rivals. One company likely to be caught in the crossfire will be Webroot Software, which markets applications for battling threats such as spyware, browser-borne pop-ups and e-mail spam to large companies such as ISPs.David Moll, chief executive at Webroot, in Boulder, Colo., said he is amazed at how quickly experts are ready to believe that Microsofts malware-fighting tools will be strong enough to serve the needs of business customers. As many of the problems addressed by his companys products are often blamed on flawed design of Windows software, the CEO expressed skepticism that people will trust Microsofts security products right away. "It would be foolhardy for us to think that Microsoft wont affect the market, but less so than those who are saying [Microsoft] will be able to solve all the problems we fight on a daily basis in keeping up with new attacks," Moll said. "People dont acquire an anti-spyware solution to save money, they do it to solve problems; to the degree that Microsoft is incapable of addressing those problems, the market for products like ours will remain strong," he said. Moll concedes that for sales to consumers, many of whom buy shrink-wrapped security software at retail stores, Vista and the other Microsoft security products will increase competition and erode pricing. But among enterprises, he said, it seems unlikely that companies battling vulnerabilities in Windows today will be ready to put their faith in the software giant. One of the fundamental challenges Moll said he sees in Microsofts attempts to fight something like spywaremalicious programs secretly loaded onto computers to capture Web usage information and personal datais that the effort will demand that the company devote significant time and resources to the business, and will require that the firm respond quickly to newly emerging threats. Speed to market, as evidenced by the Vista delay, hasnt been one of Microsofts strong suits. "Its a big question whether or not Microsoft can operate at the stopwatch times that the security industry demands; the nature of the business is very different from supporting other types of software, and they havent been forced to operate like this in the past," Moll said. "And if security companies who are 100 percent focused on these sorts of threats are struggling with all of this, how does a more broadly focused software company do a better job?" Next Page: Symantec says specialization means protection.
Jaquith and other analysts said Microsoft is likely to drive down the price for such applications with its security efforts, cutting at the heart of the rival firms business.