By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
February 7, 2006
Microsoft plans to ship a new security product in June, charging
$49.95 a year to shield up to three PCs against viruses, spyware and
other cyberthreats, the company said on Tuesday.
As previously reported, Windows OneCare Live's June debut marks
Microsoft's long-anticipated entry into the consumer antivirus market.
That space has long been the domain of specialized vendors, led by
Symantec and McAfee. Microsoft announced its intent to offer antivirus
products in June 2003 when it bought Romanian antivirus software
developer GeCad Software.
OneCare combines antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software with
backup features and several tune-up tools for Windows PCs. The product
will be sold online and in stores, Microsoft said.
The software maker is following common routes to get its software into
consumers' hands. It will offer a free 90-day test period and is
working on deals with PC makers to ship OneCare on new computers, said
Dennis Bonsall, director of Windows OneCare Live at Microsoft.
Buyers can install OneCare on up to three PCs that run Windows XP with
Service Pack 2. This is a discount over rival products from Symantec
and McAfee, which charge $119.99 and $139.99, respectively, before
rebates, for three-user editions of their security suites. The
Symantec and McAfee products are often heavily rebated.
"Up to three licenses is a real good deal," said Andrew Jaquith, an
analyst with The Yankee Group in Boston. "I think it is very
consumer-friendly and a good deal for families and SOHO (small office,
home office) type businesses."
OneCare also includes support at no additional charge via e-mail,
online chat or phone, Microsoft said. This compares to oft-criticized,
mostly paid-support options from Symantec and McAfee.
Microsoft announced its plans for OneCare in May 2005. Invited testers
have been trying it out since last July and a public test version was
released late last year. About 170,000 people are testing OneCare. As
a thank-you, testers can get a discounted rate of $19.95 per year if
they sign up in April, Bonsall said.
Microsoft will sell OneCare on a subscription basis--a change from the
traditional way security software has been sold. As long as a
subscription is active, users will get signature and feature updates
to guard against the latest attacks. Traditionally, users paid
annually for signature updates, while a product upgrade required an
Symantec and McAfee sell their boxed security suite products for
$69.99, before any rebates, and then charge an annual fee for
signature updates. However, both security companies have also been
moving to a subscription model.
In addition to adding subscription options, established security
software sellers have prepared for Microsoft's market entry by adding
anti-spyware to their security suites. Symantec later this year also
plans to introduce a new product, code-named Genesis, that will be
sold on a subscription-only basis and has many of the same features as
"If Microsoft had not combined the two, you would still see the
mainstream antivirus vendors all trying to premium-price all these
things separately," Jaquith said.
Initially, OneCare will only be available in English on the U.S.
market. Microsoft plans to have test versions out in other languages
within the next year, a representative said.
The global antivirus market is growing; it reached $3.7 billion in
revenue in 2004, up 36 percent from 2003, IDC said in December. The
market research outfit forecasts the antivirus market will grow to
$7.3 billion in 2009.
With OneCare, Microsoft is targeting consumers, especially those who
do not run security or have let their current product expire. The
company says it believes 70 percent of consumers fall into that
category. In a recent research note, The Yankee Group estimated the
niche as a market worth potentially $15 billion.
The company plans to include Windows Defender, an anti-spyware
program, within Windows Vista, the update to the operating system
scheduled to arrive before the 2006 holiday sales season. However,
there are no plans to bundle antivirus software in Vista.
Microsoft is also eyeing the enterprise security market. It is working
on a new Microsoft Client Protection product to defend business
desktops, laptops and file servers against malicious attacks.
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