Analysts predict that Microsoft will start a price war by introducing an enterprise-class product that fights both spyware and viruses. But will customers buy a security product to protect software sold by the same company?
Microsofts sudden acquisition of highly rated anti-spyware startup Giant Company Software has set the cat among the pigeons.
As competitors rush to spin the news as a "validation" of the nascent anti-spyware sector, analysts predict that Redmond is working on an enterprise-class product combining spyware- and virus-fighting capabilities.
"We believe Microsoft will come out with an anti-virus product with embedded spyware protection and theyll start a price war in the enterprise space," said Gartner security analyst John Pescatore.
Read more here about Microsofts acquisition of Giant Company Software.
In an interview with eWEEK.com, Pescatore speculated that Microsoft will launch a combined offering that marries Giants anti-spyware application to the anti-virus tools acquired in 2003
from Romanias GeCAD Software Srl.
At the time of the GeCAD acquisition, Microsoft made splashy headlines with plans to offer a standalone anti-virus tool for Windows users, but more than a year later, the company is still pointing customers to third-party offerings.
Amy Carroll, director of product management in Microsofts Security Business Technology Unit, declined to discuss long-term strategies. She said the immediate plans call for a beta of a standalone anti-spyware application for Windows 2000 and later versions.
During the beta, the application will be free, but there are hints that Microsoft will charge a fee for a final version. "We do not have a final plan for the final version. Well use the beta process to figure out the right business model," Carroll said.
"It will be a client-side offering for individual machines. We will be encouraging all our customers to use that, whether inside a business or in a consumer setting," Carroll told eWEEK.com.
Microsoft will continue to support Giant anti-spyware customers through the term of their existing contracts. Two other Giant productsSpam Inspector and Popup Inspectorwill be discontinued.
Microsoft says theres "no timeline" on an anti-virus product.