Intel's $7.68 billion McAfee acquisition could have little direct effect on its relationship with Microsoft, unless Intel uses that deal as leverage to hurt ARM and attract Google into using its products.
Microsoft and Intel have a long-standing partnership.
Microsoft Security Essentials competes with McAfee's portfolio of security
products. So will Intel's $7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee affect the
chip-maker's relationship with Microsoft?
Not really, said representatives from Intel.
"McAfee will be a wholly owned subsidiary, so there will be
little change from today," an Intel spokesperson wrote in an Aug. 19 e-mail to
eWEEK. "While McAfee does compete with Microsoft in some areas, Intel's
Microsoft relationship is longstanding, extensive and strong, and very
important to Intel."
As a subsidiary, McAfee will apparently report to Intel's
Software and Services Group. In an Aug. 19 conference call with media and
analysts, Intel executives suggested that the acquisition supports their view
of security as an essential pillar of computing, along with energy-efficient
performance and connectivity. In theory, the McAfee properties will also allow
Intel to buttress its security flank as it expands into mobile and embedded
"With the rapid expansion of growth across a vast array of
Internet-connected devices, more and more of the elements of our lives have
moved online," Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, wrote in an Aug. 19
statement ahead of the conference call.
"Intel's acquisition of McAfee signals a growing awareness among the industry, and in our society, of the importance of an enhanced level of security in everything we do," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an Aug. 19 email to eWEEK. "Microsoft has been investing heavily to build security and privacy into all of our software and services, and to deliver security solutions, such as Forefront for business and Microsoft Security Essentials for consumers."
Microsoft Security Essentials, available
for free through the company's Website, is designed to combat both viruses
and malware on Windows-equipped PCs. Originally codenamed Morro, Security
Essentials was designed to replace Live OneCare, an
antivirus product that failed to gain substantive market traction. While the
software lacks some of the features present in higher-end offerings by security
vendors such as McAfee, it does offer an alternative to lower-end
Analysts seemed to support the Intel's assertions about the
acquisition-to a point.
"Intel is ramping up quickly in the security realm, as it
correctly recognizes that devices are increasingly complex and connected and
increasingly unsafe and secure," Jack Gold, an analyst with J. Gold Associates,
wrote in an Aug. 19 e-mail to eWEEK. "Much of what they are doing is at the
lower level-below the OS and into the chip level or BIOS level."
Microsoft, Gold added, "primarily plays in the
end-user/consumer protection of Windows-based systems." Because of that, "I
don't see this as having much impact on the Microsoft/Intel relationship. I see
this more as Intel trying to expand its level of security enablement for
business users, and ultimately to consumers as well."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.