When Microsoft Corp. announced last week plans to buy the anti-virus technology of a little-known Romanian software maker, many in the AV community quickly predicted an end to Microsofts month-old alliance with several AV vendors.
However, while the acquisition signals Microsofts desire to move deeper into the security market, company officials in Redmond, Wash., said they plan to go ahead with the partnership recently forged with Network Associates Inc. and Trend Micro Inc.
Known as the Virus Information Alliance, the partnership Microsoft began with the vendors is meant to help the three companies work to educate users about viruses and other sorts of security threats. Microsoft has also worked to simplify the development process for AV makers through a new architecture in Windows. In addition, the company will include a new version of its VirusScan API in Exchange Server 2003, due later this year.
The main product of GeCAD Software, based in Bucharest, is RAV AntiVirus, which Microsoft plans to use in several ways. The most interesting possibility is that Microsoft may integrate AV protection directly into Windows, obviating the need for third-party software.
Microsoft has left the business of securing users systems to third-party vendors. But its Trustworthy Computing effort has resulted in a move by Microsoft toward using more proprietary security tools. The acquisition of GeCAD shows that Microsoft is accepting more of the responsibility for keeping users safe.
“From Microsofts perspective, they get a direct pipeline to the desktop and a chance to maybe integrate it with Passport to make sure you are who you say you are,” said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Spire Security LLC, in Malvern, Pa. “In a lot of ways, AV has become commoditized.”
Microsofts 2003 Anti-Virus Efforts
- Exchange Server 2003 gets enhanced virus-scanning API
- Word 2003 gets technology to scan native Word XML files
- Establishment of Virus Information Alliance with NAI and Trend Micro
- Purchased GeCADs RAV AntiVirus technology