Microsoft's Antivirus Vow

Microsoft confirmed last week that it will offer some type of "for fee" antivirus service or solution in the future, but executives emphasized that final product plans have not been decided. "We will offer complete antivirus solutions in the future which may be product or services. But our productization plans aren't final," said Amy Carroll, director of product management for Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit.

Microsoft announced publicly last fall that it would offer some antivirus protection after acquiring Romanian antivirus ISV GeCAD last summer. The company said last week that it will have a stand-alone antivirus offering, but some expect it will be tightly integrated in Windows in the future.

Most solution providers interviewed by CRN said the technology could pose a threat to antivirus ISV partners but would benefit Windows customers.

"It's probably a good idea because most viruses and worms target Microsoft products," said Ron Herardian, chief systems architect at Global System Services, Mountain View, Calif. "Today, IT customers buy Windows and then go about the costly and labor-intensive business of making it secure. The Windows platform can never be truly secure or reliable unless it is defended from viruses, trojans [and] worms."

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Another partner said it is important for Microsoft to ensure antivirus is linked closely to the operating system platform. "Given the Windows security issues and Microsoft's commitment to fixing them, it makes complete sense that Microsoft would extend that service to the operating system," said Ted Dinsmore, president of Conchango, New York.

Some partners cited potential conflict of interest since Microsoft is working to make Windows more virus-proof. "I'm afraid it will shift protection from free bug fixes to forcing everyone to buy their antivirus product," said Jeffrey Sherman, president of Warever Computing, Los Angeles.

One Midwestern VAR said it could delay buying decisions as customers await Microsoft antivirus products and could crush the upselling market if the tools are bundled into Windows.