Microsoft Product Announcement Bigfoots Symantec and McAffee Share Prices

While I take it as good news that Microsoft is offering Anti-sphere Tool:
The biggest software company in the world made a trial version of its free anti-spyware tool available on its website in a bid to increase the security of its dominant Windows operating system. Next week, it was expected to release a virus-removal program to round out the security package.

The anti-spyware software eliminates programs that generate unwanted pop-up ads and secretly record a computer user's activities, often crippling computer performance. The program was developed by Giant Company Software Inc., which Microsoft acquired last month.

Shares of the two largest computer-security-software vendors, Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc., fell sharply after Microsoft released details of its plans.
I am less excited about Microsoft entering the antivirus market. On the one hand, they can't afford not to, given the myriad weaknesses of MS Windows and Office. OTOH, by entering the anti-virus space, Microsoft furthers the mono-culture that has proven so suspectible to compromise. Put that way, maybe it isn't such a good idea for Microsoft to enter the anti-spyware space either.

UPDATE: MotleyFool echos my concerns:

Ultimately, the irony would run thick if Microsoft does manage to make a splash in the antivirus space. Not only is its operating system more susceptible to virtual misdeeds than Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL), but now it finds ways to profit from those deficiencies.

Ouch. That inoculation needle hurts!

Ouch, indeed! Ironically, by offering anti-virus software with update subscriptions Microsoft has incentive to make its operating system and other software even more vulnerable.

CNNMoney hits the nail in raising possible resistence by consumer and business markets:

But will consumers pony up to buy anti-virus software from the same company whose own operating system is so vulnerable to security lapses in the first place?

"For more sophisticated users, it's a small price to pay to get security that you know works from a vendor who has been doing it for 15 to 20 years. It's a different ball game for Microsoft who is not known for security," said Gregg Moskowitz, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.

Kevin Trosian, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, adds that large business customers will be skeptical of a Microsoft security software product because of the high number of security problems that have plagued corporate networks during the past few years.

"The disdain and contempt that enterprise customers have for the security lapses means it is likely they will not be rabid adopters of a Microsoft anti-virus product," Trosian said.

UPDATE 2: Flexbeta compares MS's new toy against Spy-Bot and Ad-Aware and concludes:

Though still in beta, Microsoft AntiSpyware was able to detect more infected files than the current leading anti-spyware applications in the market today, Ad-Aware and SpyBot S&D. AntiSpyware’s user interface is better looking than both SpyBot and Ad-Aware, not to mention much easier to use than SpyBot. Though Microsoft AntiSpyware was able to use better detection than both Ad-Aware and SpyBot, there is still the difference of cost between the three. Ad-Aware and SpyBot offer great performance for free, yet when Microsoft debuts its AntiSpyware application, it will require a subscription fee. Is Microsoft AntiSpyware really worth the subscription fee when there are currently good spyware removal applications out there that will do it for free? My answer to that question would be, if you can afford the fee, it is absolutely worth it; however, if you chose to use Microsoft AntiSpyware as your spyware removal tool, you will still need to run other tools such as Ad-Aware and SpyBot.


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    Computer News
    Google plans instant-messaging system, report says

    Google Inc. is set to introduce its own instant messaging system, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, marking the expansion by the Web search leader into text and also voice communications.

    Citing unnamed sources "familiar with the service," the Los Angeles Times said that Google's Instant Messaging program would be called Google Talk and could be launched as early as Wednesday.

    Google Talk goes beyond text-based instant messaging using a computer keyboard to let users hold voice conversations with other computer users, the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

    A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's product plans.

    If confirmed, the combined computer text and voice-calling service would put Google in competition with a similar service pioneered by Skype, which has attracted tens of millions of users, especially in Europe, to its own service.

    Separately, independent journalist Om Malik on his blog at http://gigaom.com/ pointed to technical clues that suggest Google is preparing to run an instant messaging service based on an open-source system known as Jabber.

    Jabber technology would allow Google instant message users to connect with established IM systems that also work with Jabber, including America Online's ICQ and Apple Computer Inc.'s iChat, Malik said.

    "This is the worst possible news for someone like Skype, because now they will be up against not two but three giants who want to offer a pale-version of Skype," he wrote.

    Earlier this week, Google said it was branching out beyond pure search to help users manage e-mail, instant messages, news headlines and music. It introduced a new service called the Google Sidebar, a stand-alone software program that sits on a user's desktop and provides "live" information updates.

    Over the past year or so, the company has expanded into e-mail, online maps, personalized news and more.

    The product push comes as rivals Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL are all pushing to upgrade existing instant messaging systems and expand into new Internet phone-calling services.

    Google's moves take it beyond its roots in Web search and closer to becoming a broad-based Internet media company.

    With instant messaging, Google would be breaking into a market in which its major competitors boast tens of millions of subscribers to their established instant messaging services.

    America Online, with its AIM and ICQ brands, counts more than 40 million IM users in the United States alone. Yahoo has around 20 million and Microsoft's MSN Messenger numbers some 14 million users, according to recent comScore Media Metrix data.

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