Vista will hit the market primarily as a desktop operating system upgrade, an area where Microsofts market position has remained dominant over the last decade.
However, the software also represents Microsofts most aggressive effort to date at spiriting away some of the money its customers spend on security applications meant to protect earlier versions of Windows.
Based on that strategy, which involves the inclusion in Vista of tools for fighting worms, viruses, rootkits and spyware, some experts are predicting that life will be much harder for the security software vendors who have turned fighting vulnerabilities in Microsoft products into a lucrative business.
Most industry watchers concede that it will be hard for Microsoft to easily displace the enterprise security businesses of leading vendors such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro, which market integrated packages of applications to companies wishing to solve long lists of problems.
However, for firms that are focused on only one of those problem areas, analysts said, Vista and the other Microsoft security products could pose a significant threat.
"Vista itself is going to have a moderate impact on the security market in the short term, with people like independent anti-spyware vendors feeling the most pressure, and companies like Symantec more worried about their future plans," said Andrew Jaquith, an analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group. "I dont think well see enterprises putting off security decisions to wait for Vista, but Microsoft does enter the market as a top-tier vendor based on its size and distribution channel."
Even more so than by Vista, Jaquith said, security vendors are already threatened by the software giants stand-alone security products, including the Microsoft Client Protection package, which aims to fight many different types of malware.