Doom For Anti-Spyware Software?

May 9, 2006

Andy Patrizio

UPDATED: A Yankee Group report published this week predicts imminent doom for anti-spyware makers with the release of Windows Vista. But don't plan a funeral for WebRoot and Ad-Aware just yet. First, Microsoft has to sell the darned operating system.

Microsoft still has not spelled out the system requirements for Windows Vista, with less than a year to go before its release.

But Andrew Jaquith, program manager for security solutions and services at The Yankee Group, and author of the report, said he expects Vista will require 1GB of memory or more, a Pentium 4 processor and a 128MB video card.

"These are not what you call lightweight configurations," he said.

So in order for the predictions in his report that anti-spyware vendors will suffer under the freely available Windows Defender in Vista, first thing that has to happen is Vista must be a hit, and he doesn't think it will be.

"We think it will be a lot less than the 400 million [installed base] they want to have out in the next 24 months," said Jaquith. "I do think they have made a strategic error in making the requirements so heavy."

Jaquith's report, "Microsoft's Vista Won't Stop the Windows Security Aftermarket," predicted a big hit for aftermarket firewalls and anti-spyware software.

Windows XP Service Pack 2 has a firewall, but it only handled inbound traffic. The firewall in Vista will handle inbound and outbound traffic, something currently handled by third-party products from Symantec and Check Point, among others.

But it is anti-spyware software that the report predicted will feel the most pain, as Windows Defender, bundled with the OS, will do for free what aftermarket products do now. "Free and good enough beats costly and elegant, if that makes sense," he told "So regardless how good one of the anti-spyware vendors is, it's still something that costs money to buy. What comes with Vista might be just good enough."

And in a lot of cases, Microsoft will be going against entrenched interests. The larger software security vendors, like CA, McAfee, Trend Micro, Symantec and others, have added anti-spyware into their larger product offerings and have established customer relationships with larger companies.

Jaquith expects those companies will be happy to continue their relationships.

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