Microsoft Grabs Anti-Virus Firm

By | February 9, 2005

Microsoft’s recent announcement that they are buying yet another antivirus company – Sybari Software – is having roughly the effect of an earthquake in the technology industry. Some people are being shaken up – including the stock prices of antivirus makers Symantec and McAfee – and others are simply watching to see what the damage will be.

Either way, the acquisition is likely to be part of a growing security product strategy at Microsoft – which some would say is simply further evidence of the greed of the company. Most of the jabs towards the acquisition come from the feeling among certain users that Microsoft created the virus and spyware and other security problems simply by designing a poor OS.

Either way, there is a very real problem here and now, and having Microsoft provide a comprehensive solution to that problem – either in the OS or in separate software – only makes sense for businesses and users. And it certainly makes more sense than the alternative of switching entirely to a new OS.

Sybari slots in the final piece needed for Microsoft to create a software and services package to combat e-mail threats such as viruses, spam and spyware, said John Pescatore, an Internet security analyst at market research firm Gartner.

“They have all the pieces together now, but it is going to take a couple of years before companies will consider the offerings,” Pescatore said.

Sybari´s Antigen software allows Microsoft´s GeCad-based antivirus engine, and similar competing software, to be used to scan incoming e-mail and instant messages before they enter a company´s network.

“Microsoft has already said that they plan to offer a service in the antivirus space,” Pescatore said. “This gives them the ability to offer the product to enterprises.”

Combined with Microsoft’s earlier purchase of Giant Software Systems’ antispyware application, Microsoft should now have a solid scan engine, distribution engine and antispyware engine. The only real piece missing is a solid firewall, which industry experts are expecting to see either developed at Microsoft, or purchased from yet another reputable company.

Obviously there will be people who claim these moves are simply another example of Microsoft’s lack of ethics. However providing customers with solutions they are begging for is rarely a bad way to do business – even if you do end up charging for those solutions.

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