Article

Microsoft buys its way into antivirus fray

Margie Semilof

Microsoft Corp. is buying antivirus technology that will eventually evolve into a fee-based service on future Windows platforms.

Microsoft signed an agreement this week to acquire the intellectual property and technology assets of GeCAD Software Srl, a software company based in Bucharest, Romania. Microsoft is not yet talking about exactly what it will do with those assets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"As part of our Trustworthy Computing initiative, we are looking at ways that customers are being hacked, and viruses are a key issue that remains," said Jonathan Perera, senior director of the security business unit at Microsoft.

When the deal is complete, Perera said, Microsoft will discontinue GeCAD's RAV AntiVirus product line and integrate the scanning engine and virus signatures into Microsoft services and platforms. Eventually, customers will be able to purchase antivirus protection from Microsoft. "This won't be given away for free," he said.

Microsoft's acquisition of the technology throws a long-awaited wrinkle into the antivirus market, a Forrester Research analyst said. Granted, antivirus technology is approaching commodity status, but there is still significant money to be made selling licenses, services and support to large enterprises, said Forrester's Jan Sundgren.

"[In the] long term, this only attacks one part of the market," Sundgren said. "The competition is diversifying anyway into much broader

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security suites. Antivirus is a market that is slowly disappearing, though there is still a fair amount of money in it."

As Microsoft starts selling technology that uses its Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, a policy-based architecture, this discussion may be moot.

NGSCB (formerly Palladium) and host-intrusion prevention techniques define what is good and block everything else, which could reduce the need for antivirus software, said Pete Lindstrom, research director at Spire Security, a Malvern, Pa.-based consulting firm.

But Perera said that this acquisition would help secure customers who won't benefit from NGSCB for many years.

Michael S. Mimoso, news editor of SearchSecurity.com, contributed to this report.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

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