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At the Virus Bulletin conference this year I gave a presentation on what I believe will be the impact of Microsoft entering the anti-virus industry. You can download the full paper at: http://www.eset.com/download/whitepapers/RandyAbrams_VB2006.pdf.
Some people think that this is the beginning of the end of the anti-virus industry and cite examples, such as Netscape as precedence. I personally do not think this will be the case. As Nick Fitzgerald once pointed out, in the browser wars we had a relatively young technology. The antivirus industry is a mature industry and it would take a long time for Microsoft to displace the entrenched leaders.
I do think that Microsoft will have an impact, but this will primarily affect the biggest companies. The people who buy the products with the most market share generally do so because they buy marketing. Smaller companies, such as ESET, primarily attract tech savvy customers who make their purchase decisions based upon technology. For customers who enjoy the unparalleled proactive protection that NOD32 affords, MS is not likely to have any comparable offering for some time to come. For customers who like the speed and efficiency of NOD32, MS does not have any offerings that come close to the performance of NOD32. For customers who like the integrated anti-threat engine that NOD32 offers, well Microsoft still requires separate installs for their antivirus and anti-spyware.
Other small companies also have customers who are technology enthusiasts. The people are not likely to be leaving for camp Microsoft any time soon.
Microsoft will likely take a significant portion of customers from the large players and we will probably see the disappearance of the dominance that Symantec currently holds in market share. The smaller companies will continue doing what they have been doing all along Ã¢â‚¬â€œ taking customers from the big players as these customers become disenfranchised with slow, bulky products that don’t get the job done.
When I left Microsoft in June 2005, I knew Microsoft would be entering the anti-virus industry. Armed with this knowledge I still chose to come to work for ESET.
If you haven’t heard the term 800 pound gorilla, it refers to the dominate player in an industry. For operating systems and office suites Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla. As I said at the conference, the small companies already compete against the Symantec gorilla. We already compete against the McAfee gorilla. We already compete against the Trend Micro gorilla. Hey, what’s one more monkey in the zoo?
(Yes, I know, gorillas are not monkeys.)
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET