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Godzilla vs. Mothra?

Anyone remotely involved in the computer security space has probably seen this coming for quite some time: IDG News Service says computer security company Symantec Corp. has filed a complaint with the European Union following Microsoft's announcement last week that it plans to wade into the anti-virus market later this year.

As noted by guest Security Fix blogger and Post tech columnist Rob Pegoraro, the offering detailed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will focus on business markets, not home computing. Still, Symantec has to be concerned that Microsoft will bundle the security software with Windows Vista -- the long-delayed next version of Windows -- currently slated to be released sometime next year.

Personally, I feel like Microsoft has an obligation to offer this type of service to its customers, be they home or corporate users. I have found Microsoft's anti-spyware product to be highly effective, but then again it is free -- at least for now. In the end, consumers and businesses should be free to decide whether they're okay paying for a security service offered by the same company responsible for creating the problems in the first place.

Still, I'd like to think Microsoft has learned from its entanglement with antitrust regulators both here and abroad, especially after having been ordered last year by EU antitrust regulators to pay nearly 500 million euros to end a five-year inquiry over its bundling of the Windows Media Player with the operating system. The company has to realize that seamlessly stitching this offering into the operating system would be a recipe for more trouble on the antitrust front.

On a side note, the last two Windows computers I've purchased have had Symantec's Norton antivirus software installed on the machines by default, including a free 90-day subscription to antivirus updates.Symantec is not alone in this practice. Other antivirus firms have struck similar deals with other PC makers to have their products factory-installed, with roughly the same trial offers.

By Brian Krebs  |  October 10, 2005; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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Next: Positive News in the War on Spyware

Comments

On the one hand Symantec Corp. has no one to blame but themselves. Their products have become shoddier and shoddier over the years to the point where even Norton is questionable.
On the other hand if MS does go through with it (even unto the consumer side) does anyone doubt that with a "centralized watcher" hackers will find it far far easier to exploit Windows vulnerabilities?
The underlying problem is that Windows is a cheap (corporate cost effective, ok?) solution that likely will be assaulted for years to come. XP was touted as a new standard in high security lo those many service releases ago. Anyone thinking Vista will be any better a year after its release is fooling themselves.

Posted by: jje McManus | October 10, 2005 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for Microsoft including their own AV software with the operating systems. I hear people slamming Microsoft for having such and insecure operating system and actually it just makes sense to include this type of protection. I am going to guess they will have built-in buffer overflow protection (fingers crossed).

As far as jje's comments go, Microsoft did release a better and more secure operating system but did a bad job on putting the right security settings in place out of the box. Even when Windows 2000 came out it included IPSEC which can be used to secure communications as well as block unauthorized access to exploitable ports but did a bad job delivering it. XP was a step in the right direction which also included a firewall but then again didn't deliver it right. Then came SP2! Okay, I think they are finally getting it. I guess we will see when Vista is released.

Microsoft provided the tools needed to have a fairly secure system but just did a crappy job boxing it up. The tools were there but someone had to know to implement them.

Posted by: David Taylor | October 10, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse


So far, third parties like Symantec where reaping all the profit from Microsoft's mistake. I think if MSFT makes us pay for their mistakes, they should at least profit form it. After all, they created all the problems and after all we don't live in China and people are allowed to profit at will.

Posted by: close the loop | October 10, 2005 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't appreciate the title of this piece. Neither Godzilla nor Mothra would care about security patches and even less about competing with the other in the European market or the global business market.
Perhaps a better title would have been "Terminator versus Predator XP."

Posted by: romab | October 11, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Even if AV is included with Windows, would anybody use it? How many people actually uses Windows firewall that was included with SP2? They produce some junk OS with more holes than a swiss cheese, and then expect people to pay for AV to protect the OS? What a joke!

Posted by: Francis Li | October 12, 2005 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Well, in one hand we have Microsoft with a crappy O/S & weekly patches to cover it's holes. There is no way their AV would be a serious security software to use.
On the other hand, Symantec been leaving homr & SOHO users alone (only chagning the year & some minor interface every year), just concetrating on big corporates (this way makes better money?), I won't feel bad even if this one goes bankrupt!
As a PC tech. receiving many PCs with virus infection while the latest NAV been installed on them, I can surely say don't waste your time on Symantec.
Alternatives like Kaspersky or even AVG are much better & safer to have.

Posted by: Fardin | October 12, 2005 4:46 AM | Report abuse

There are 3 different concerns I see.

1) Bundling the AV with Windows in such a way that no 3rd party software work as intended.

2)The possibility of them intentionally creating the problem, so they can sell the (only)product to fix it. Kind of like your mechanic causing an additional problem when you bring your car in for an oil change.

3)If they can patch the problems through AV, you have to believe that they should have been able to patch some of the problems before release. In which case, they should be sending out critical patches for free, instead of making the consumer pay. An analogy--You pay a contractor to build your house, then you pay him to come back and bring it up to code. The contractor isn't supposed to charge for the fix if it wasn't done right the first time.

Posted by: chris | October 12, 2005 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Many readers may think that the Microsoft Security product is free this is far from the case. The cost of the Antivirus and security product will be incorporated in to MS Vista. It is interesting to see that computer hardware prices have fallen over time but the cost of the OS hasnt. This is due to MS bundling more software and charging the same. This is the Very reason Symantec are calling foul play as they dont have a level playing field. In my opinion MS should only sell the security product seperatly and let the price of the OS not reflect the acusition cost of the security companies bought.

Posted by: Anon | October 12, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Many readers may think that the Microsoft Security product is free this is far from the case. The cost of the Antivirus and security product will be incorporated in to MS Vista. It is interesting to see that computer hardware prices have fallen over time but the cost of the OS hasnt. This is due to MS bundling more software and charging the same. This is the Very reason Symantec are calling foul play as they dont have a level playing field. In my opinion MS should only sell the security product seperatly and let the price of the OS not reflect the acusition cost of the security companies bought.

Posted by: km | October 12, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft is really trying to slowly but surely take over the entire concept of desktop computing and OS's as we know it. Kudos to anyone who stands in their way, and tries to stave off the shoddy code they will foist onto customers.
On a separate note, I think Godzilla would be pissed that someone is associating his name with Microsoft. I mean come on, Godzilla is certainly not shoddy by any means. In a different universe, he would breathe radioactive fire onto Gates, Balmer, and the HQ in Redmond and that would be that. If only it were so easy.

Posted by: mountainman | October 12, 2005 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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