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Microsoft Virus Alliance Grows

Three weeks after sending shockwaves through the antivirus industry with the announcement that it had bought an antivirus vendor, Microsoft and three security partners made nice in public with an extension of Microsoft's Virus Information Alliance (VIA).

Computer Associates, Sybari and Symantec on Tuesday all formally joined the VIA, which Microsoft originally launched May 21 with Network Associates and Trend Micro. The stated purpose of the alliance is to create a centralized resource for Microsoft Windows and Outlook customers to get information on worm, virus, trojan and other malware threats. An official Web site is located at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/virus/default.asp.

About two weeks after unveiling VIA, Microsoft purchased the intellectual property and technology assets of GeCAD Software Srl., a small, Romanian antivirus firm. In broad terms, Microsoft says it plans to use the GeCAD employees and technology to design software that is better protected against viral threats and to make antivirus software more ubiquitous. On specifics, Microsoft is saying next to nothing. A white paper published on Microsoft's Web site recently stated, "Details of the Microsoft antivirus solution, including any product plans, pricing, and a timeline for delivery, are not yet available. Microsoft strongly recommends that customers continue to use antivirus solutions from industry partners and keep their virus signatures updated."

Industry opinion is mixed on the merits of Microsoft distributing its own antivirus engine and updates to compete with the engines and updates of Network Associates, Trend Micro, Symantec, CA and others. While some believe Microsoft owes it to its customers to provide antivirus functionality for free, others worry Microsoft could drive competitors out of the market and leave users with the lowest common denominator of antivirus protection.

CA and Symantec both sell traditional antivirus products. Sybari, which came out in support of the Microsoft acquisition of GeCAD, sells Antigen, which uses antivirus engines in combination from two or more antivirus vendors to help customers ensure that they are protected against viruses that any individual vendor may have missed.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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