Experts Unconcerned Over Non-Release of Vista AV

McAfee is playing up its status as the only major security company to roll out new anti-virus tools on the day of Vista's launch, but industry watchers say many products will arrive as users begin to adopt the OS.

Industry analysts were not surprised to see that many leading security vendors did not choose to roll out their new Windows Vista anti-virus products when the much-awaited Microsoft operating system launched on Nov. 30.

While McAfee is actively touting its status as the only major AV (anti-virus) provider to get a Vista product out the door to coincide with the introduction of the OS, experts said the milestone means relatively little.

Many other top-tier anti-virus applications providers, including market leader Symantec and McAfee rivals CA, Panda Software, Sophos and Trend Micro, will soon have similar products available, with most already distributing beta versions of their software to customers.

McAfee, of Santa Clara, Calif., is ranked as the second largest provider of anti-virus technologies behind Symantec by market watchers including Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn.

Experts said that most enterprises will not begin aggressively installing Vista on users desktops until sometime early in 2007, when many of the other security companies AV products are slated to hit the market.

"Most enterprises arent going to be rolling out Vista right away, so, [McAfees claim] is more marketing bragging rights than anything important," said Paul Stamp, analyst with Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass.

"Every one of the anti-virus vendors will support it, and Vista will likely be rolled out very slowly; by the time anyone is using it on a wide scale plenty of anti-virus products will be available for them to use."

While the storm of controversy between security vendors and Microsoft over AV vendors demands for additional Vista development tools has not completely subsided, said Andrew Jaquith, analyst with Boston-based Yankee Group, he does predict that there will be no shortage of products to support the OS as companies begin to install it.

"Its important to keep in mind that the 2006 launch of Vista is a soft launch that Microsoft needed to do in order to meet perceived obligations, and it was important for Wall Street and customers to see them get something out the door," Jaquith said.

"The real launch of Vista and widespread adoption wont come until Q1 of 2007; whether or not security companies had compatible products available yesterday was not that important."

Most of the uproar voiced by the security partners was about Microsofts inclusion of several controversial security features in Vista, namely the use of its PatchGuard kernel protection technology in the 64-bit version of the OS.

But that issue will not impact the delivery of AV for the 32-bit iteration of the product, the one that most companies will adopt in the coming months, Jaquith said.

The analyst also said there is still some lingering discord between Microsoft and the security vendors related to the sharing information about PatchGuard, but he believes that the companies will likely work through any problems that could delay the arrival of Vista AV products.

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There may still be some work left to do between Microsoft and its partners in helping the security vendors grapple with some of the advanced firewall features in its 64-bit version of Vista, but the Jaquith said the companies appear to be making progress in tackling those issues as well.

"The PatchGuard issues aside, weve heard from all the major AV vendors that there wasnt going to be a problem getting compatible products out the door sooner or later," said Jaquith. "Were not going to see any problems with the 32-bit versions of their products; everyone knew what they needed to do and they are close to finishing."

Spokespeople with Symantec, of Cupertino, Calif., confirmed that while the company has yet to officially release the final version of its Vista AV tools, it has already made a pre-release of the technology available to its existing customers.

Symantecs 32-bit Vista AV product will become available to the public on Dec. 31.

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