Microsofts Anti-Virus Strategy Keeps Users Guessing

Microsoft's hazy anti-virus plans keep partners, vendors and users in limbo.

One year after it surprised rivals and partners by jumping into the anti-virus market, Microsoft Corp. still has no clear AV strategy, and users are still hanging on to the promise of integrated Windows protection.

The companys sluggish AV development is a far cry from the plans Microsoft trumpeted when it acquired the Romanian company GeCAD Software Srl. last June. At the time, officials in Redmond, Wash., said they planned to use GeCADs technology to develop new products and enhance the security protections in Windows.

The news enticed some users but worried others. And it was especially disturbing to anti-virus vendors such as Computer Associates International Inc., Symantec Corp. and Network Associates Inc. The vendors, all major Microsoft partners, along with some enterprise security managers, were concerned that building AV into Windows would force users to accept the companys solution and abandon third-party tools.

Until recently, Microsoft officials had said there were no immediate plans to build AV into Windows. They even promised to build a better API to make it easier for third-party AV products to work with Windows.


For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

But now, 12 months later, Microsoft has done little to clear up the uncertainty surrounding its intentions for the GeCAD technology. Although Mike Nash, vice president of the Security Business and Technology Unit at Microsoft, reiterated last week in a widely publicized meeting with reporters in Seattle that the company is on track to offer its own AV solution, there has been no decision made about what form that solution might take.

"Theres no definite product plan. We do plan to release a solution, and it will be a for-fee product, but the delivery vehicle isnt firm yet," said Amy Carroll, director of product management in Microsofts SBTU and who reports to Nash. "Its a big undertaking, and we want to make sure we get it right."

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