Taking a page out of rival Microsoft Corp.s playbook, Symantec Corp. rolled out a free public beta of the new Norton Internet Security 2005 AntiSpyware Edition, adding spyware-detection capabilities to a product suite that already features virus protection, spam detection, intrusion protection and content filtering.
Symantecs belated move, which had been in the works for months, puts the companys consumer-focused Norton suite up against similar offerings from Microsoft, McAfee Inc., Computer Associates International Inc. and Trend Micro Inc.
Symantec group product manager Kraig Lane said the integrated offering would be available for Windows 2000 and Windows XP users only and will be available as a free download through June 1st.
"Consumers want a product that covers all the security bases. They want to keep it simple and have all the protections in one place," Lane said in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet News.
Unlike competitors that roll out standalone anti-spyware applications, Lane said, Symantec made a deliberate decision to add spyware protection to its flagship Norton suite. "If you try to do separate products, you only confuse consumers. Its best to have one real-time scanner running and offering all the security technologies in a single interface."
Starting in May, the full version of the Norton security suite will be available for retail for about $80, a price point that includes the first years annual subscription. After the first year, users must pony up $29.95 to get real-time scanning and updates.
Current Norton users can get the new version for $49.95, Lane said.
With competition heating up, pricing becomes crucial for the big anti-virus vendors targeting the consumer space. Microsoft is currently testing an anti-spyware application that will be free for consumers, but the long-term plan is to roll out an enterprise version with management capabilities that will carry a price tag.
McAfee and Computer Associates eTrust PestPatrol sell standalone anti-spyware protection for $29.99.
According to Symantecs Lane, the Norton Internet Security 2005 AntiSpyware Edition has been fitted with multiple scanning levels to provide detection for dangerous spyware applications in real time. It provides on-demand scanning options that include full system scans and scheduled scans as well as Norton QuickScan.
He said Symantecs Automatic LiveUpdate technology will be leveraged to provide protection updates for new security risks on a regular basis.