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Microsoft Bug IT

Microsoft to Buy Anti-Virus Software Firm 344

Posted by Zonk
from the ms-adopts-anti-bug-tactics dept.
thejuggler writes "Excite News is reporting that Microsoft is planning to buy Sybari Software Inc., which makes programs designed to protect business computer networks from viruses, worms and other threats. This is Microsoft's second purchase of an anti-virus company. The article states that Microsoft is thinking about charging for their anti-virus and anti-spyware software."
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Microsoft to Buy Anti-Virus Software Firm

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:36PM (#11613444) Homepage Journal
    Evidently they wore out the first one...

    windows hungry! want more!

  • by baryon351 (626717) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:37PM (#11613451)
    No Antitrust for you to see here, please move along.
    • This is vertical integration. They are purchasing software to make their product more complete.

      Antitrust would be involved if they purchased Apple, Sun, IBM or Red Hat, as they have Operating Systems.
      • by bwalling (195998) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:53PM (#11613628) Homepage
        This is vertical integration. They are purchasing software to make their product more complete. Antitrust would be involved if they purchased Apple, Sun, IBM or Red Hat, as they have Operating Systems.

        Tell that to Real or Netscape.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          This is vertical integration.

          I wouldn't be so quick to rule out Commerce looking into this matter as anticompetitive and potentially not compatible with other product liability regulations. As always, follow the money:

          Microsoft established in the past decade that it was not selling software, but a license to software (hence pushing EULA down the justice system's throat). This model was important to convert software to a quasi-recurring revenue model. Microsoft's rationale was that it needed to expire so
          • The software 'warranty' should expire, not you right to use it. My mother has always used products past their expiration such as Milk, Cider, and bread. Im surprised anyone would have bought the idea of the software itself expiring!?

            The first thing that came to my mind as well was conflict of interest. It just makes no sense. A virus detector is essentially a flaw detector. How can MS be in that business?
      • Tell that to Standard Oil.
      • by interiot (50685) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:02PM (#11613732) Homepage
        Eh? Antitrust laws do not simply protect against monopolies/cartels, but instead protect against anything that intentionally restrains trade (as vague [cato.org] as that is). There are several solid pages on vertical integration/antitrust (one [fsu.edu], two [aw.com] ). Isn't payola [wikipedia.org] a clear case of vertical integration? If you can control the channels of production, it doesn't matter if you have lots of competitors who will sell at a lower price than you; the customer doesn't have access to their product.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:37PM (#11613457)
    1. Make bad software 2. Acquire and sell software to repair original bad software 3. PROFIT!!!
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:38PM (#11613462) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be better if Microsoft was to fix their bloody insecure software instead??
    -russ
    • by Metteyya (790458) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:39PM (#11613478)
      You obviously haven't read the summary:
      The article states that Microsoft is thinking about charging for their anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
      • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:59PM (#11613697) Homepage
        Well, the interesting thing here is that some people on the Free Software Business mailing list claim that the economic model for open source has a flaw. You get paid for selling support, right? But that means fixing bugs that you, yourself wrote. There's a clear conflict of interest there, right? You make mistakes and then you profit from them. And yet here's Microsoft doing the same thing. So while I agree that it's a flaw, it doesn't seem to be limited to open source software!
        -russ
        • by fireman sam (662213) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:13PM (#11613810) Homepage Journal
          The biggest difference is that with open source I can fix the bugs myself if I want to. With Microsoft software I cannot.

          Microsoft are not doing the same as the open source businesses(sp?). Microsoft sell you the product, sell you the support, sell you the fixes.
          • I want to fix bugs, but not knowing various implementations of C, where does that leave me?
            • by benjamindees (441808) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @01:46AM (#11615691) Homepage
              It leaves you with a free market of people who *do* know various implementations of C and are willing to help you at a market rate.

              With Windows, you're stuck with a binary that you can't decompile, and a single company with the source and little motivation to fix your bug.
          • by pipingguy (566974) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:11PM (#11614843) Homepage

            Sure, if you are a savvy computer person.

            What about the rest of us?

            One slightly tinfoilish concept is that there is plausible deniability (and we thought that was only for US presidents and stuff) when using commercial software. In other words, since it was paid-for, blame can be placed elsewhere so that everyone "gets off the hook".

            Given most users'/executives' level of knowledge about software and hardware, this is maybe an effective "out" for problems whose origins are probably elsewhere. After all, who has the patience/critical analysis ability to listen to/can comprehend stuff like the following:

            "Well, you see, at the specific time you saved the file, the cron job was interrupted due to an unscheduled backup caused by an errant RAM issue on the server. Not the server you actually were using, but because the upgraded version of the current database was not compatible with the..."
            • "What about the rest of us?"

              Well I guess you could just wait for the official updates from the company you got the distribution from. Or, if by "you" you mean a company, you can get a support contract (that is actually what the open source companies are selling).
          • by Malc (1751)
            I'd rather be down the pub with my friends than fixing somebody else's bugs.

            If I'm at work it's going to piss my boss off if I have to fix somebody else's bug instead of doing the job that I'm paid to do.
            • "I'd rather be down the pub with my friends than fixing somebody else's bugs."

              We all have our hobbies. Personally I'd rather be coding with my friends than getting drunk, but each to their own.

              "If I'm at work it's going to piss my boss off if I have to fix somebody else's bug instead of doing the job that I'm paid to do."

              Sounds like a bad boss. I've spent way too much time working around small bugs in software (Lotus Notes in my case) when it would have taken me a lot less time to have just fixed the bu
        • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infamo[ ]net ['us.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:15PM (#11613833) Homepage
          You get paid for selling support, right? But that means fixing bugs that you, yourself wrote. There's a clear conflict of interest there, right?

          Except that:

          • support doesn't just mean fixing bugs, it can mean configuration, integration, and custom development;
          • I can be hired to support software I didn't write;
          • other people can be hired to support the software I wrote
    • by gl4ss (559668)
      why? they're seeing this HUGE market that makes money on the flaws of their products.

      it's sadly logical that they'd get more money if they got a cut of that market instead of eliminating it.....

      though.. msav.. nothing new.
      • Microsoft charging for anti-virus and anti-spyware must be the acme of nerve. Hell, scratch that, it's brilliant. Make people pay for defective stuff you already sold them once and get away with it.
    • What?!?!?!? (Score:2, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      Wouldn't it be better if Microsoft was to fix their bloody insecure software instead??

      Why, being the major operating system vendor on the planet and then charging subscription rates for anti-virus and anti-spyware would guarantee Bill Gates billions more $ to give to Africa, India, China and any other country he wants to (NOTE: Not an intended pub-<) curry favor with, by aiding the sick and the poor and generally being a heck of a nice guy in the public eye.

      What do you have against all these people?

      • Re:What?!?!?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BurritoWarrior (90481) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @12:14AM (#11615278)
        I see. So I have a $1. I should give that dollar to Microsoft. Who takes 90 cents. Which then gives 10 cents to Bill as salary and stock. Who then takes 9 cents. Who then gives 1 cent to the poor.

        Or, I could still have the dollar and give it to the poor myself. Of course, I don't make the newspaper, as I only give in the hundreds, not the millions. Of course, there are also billions of "me"s and only one Bill Gates.
    • For the consumers, ya.. For Microsoft.. no.. they can make more money that way..

      Sell you insecure systems, then charge you for security...

      "here, buy our doors.. oh, and our locks too"
    • As I've stated before, [slashdot.org] whatever OS is the dominant one, is the one that virus writers will explore and find the exploits for. Already Symantec has ported to the Mac [symantec.com] platform because of the growth it's realized lately. Virus writers are now beginning to attack it, (although not as much as Windows.)

      And already the OSS community has been attacked [slashdot.org] by spyware. If this vulnerability, done by a JavaScript can effect Firefox on Unix, then any browser can be compromised.

      Now, that said, I do believe that MS shou
  • The article states that Microsoft is thinking about charging for their anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

    I'd think long and hard about it too if I were MS. I could charge for it and compete like everyone else in those markets. Or I could give one or both away to consumers. I'm either going to completely undercut the competiton in perhaps a manner that get's anti-monopoly noise going again, or I could charge and be blasted for profitting from the flaws in my own software.

    Makes me wonder why they eve
  • Well, of course. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Faust7 (314817) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:41PM (#11613503) Homepage
    The article states that Microsoft is thinking about charging for their anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

    I don't see how they couldn't, without risking further anti-trust-related accusations.
    • by lgw (121541)
      If they give it away for free, Symantec and McAfee will no doubt complian (legitemately, IMO) about anti-trust issues.

      If they charge for it, well, I'm sure there's some subtle differece between that and extortion, but it escapes me.
    • It would be more likely if it were given free and included in the default install.

      Charging for it would look like they're being fair to competitors.
      • by Locutus (9039)
        yup, and all the while their intent is to also remove the advantages these products have running on Linux. Now MSFT has both GeCADs and Sybaris anntivirus software and both DID support Linux.

        Just like a halloween doc said that they would hire key open source developers, this is just a variation on that. They're purchasing products/companies which help enhance the usefulness of Linux in the enterprise. They did this to JAVA too.

        LoB
    • by ad0gg (594412)
      They are screwed either way. If they give it away for free, people will complain that microsoft is product dumping. If they charge, people will complain that they are making money on their software bugs.

      • They are screwed either way. If they give it away for free, people will complain that microsoft is product dumping. If they charge, people will complain that they are making money on their software bugs.

        In other words, given their current position as a convicted monopoly, the suitable option is not to get into the anti-virus business at all. Apparently they haven't decided to take that option. Is it any surprise they get blamed no matter which subtle variant of a fundamentally foolish decision they mak
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:41PM (#11613504) Journal
    Manufacturer of spontaneously-combusting household furniture today announced that they would be charging customers for fire extinguishers.
    • That's a rather bad analogy unless you're implying that Microsoft are somehow responsible for writing and distributing viruses. Of course, if you are, I'm sure you will have a link to the proof of this.

      It's actually a sensible decision by Microsoft if they do charge for it, rather than bundling it with their software free of charge which would have the end result of forcing other competitors out of the antivirus market.

      • by PaulBu (473180)
        That's a rather bad analogy unless you're implying that Microsoft are somehow responsible for writing and distributing viruses.

        Of course they are! ;-) Long gone are the days of a lone virus writer coding in assembler for bare hardware, occasionally assisted by INT 13. Now, having access to gigabytes of supporting DLLs and applications provided by Microsoft (s)he can achive so much more!

        Or do you think modern virus/worm/spyware writers re-implement TCP/IP stack (hmm, bad example, would put some blaim on U
      • by lgw (121541)
        That's a rather bad analogy unless you're implying that Microsoft are somehow responsible for writing and distributing viruses.

        I think the analogy is sound if you merely believe Microsoft is negligent in the propagation of viruses. That is, did they do everything reasonable to both protect their sofware from infection and prevent it from being a vector? Anyone who sells infrastructure is responsible for taking *reasonable* precautions against abuse of that infrastucture.

        Asking any software to be total
  • Don't think- just release it for free.
  • by Tandoori Haggis (662404) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:47PM (#11613569)
    "Bucharest, June 10, 2003 &#150; GeCAD Software has announced a definitive agreement with Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Wash., USA, by which Microsoft will acquire GeCAD&#146;s antivirus technology. Microsoft has stated its intention to integrate GeCAD&#146;s technology into products and services that will help secure customers."

    http://www.ravantivirus.com/

    RAV produced RAV AntiVirus Desktop for Linux [8.1.4]

    By all accounts it was a really good product. MS scuppered my plans to try it out >:(

    • It *was* a really good product. And they supported just about every combination of OS/mail transport agent you could want (in our case it was FreeBSD/Postfix). It's a shame Microsoft has apparently scuttled RAV.
  • Internet Explorer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by morcheeba (260908) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:48PM (#11613572) Journal
    I wonder how they can argue that IE has to be a fundamental part of the operating system that they give away*, but a virus scanner is an add-on? Controlling which programs run seems like it should be an OS fundamental.

    (* re: IE vs. netscape browser wars and the monopoly verdict)
  • by donnz (135658) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:48PM (#11613577) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft have certainly done a first class job in creating a demand for these services. Kudos.
    • the theme of the "Mission Impossible II" movie.

      (1) +create buggy & vulnerable software
      (2) +"fix" bugs by selling newer software
      (3) -extremely long delay in new OS release
      (4) +buy antivirus and antispyware companies
      (5) +subscription fees for AV + OS Updates
      (6) ++profit!
  • by Caesar (9965) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:48PM (#11613581) Homepage
    As we noted over at Ars [arstechnica.com], Sybari doesn't make an AV engine. Their main product allows customers to plug in AV engines developed by other companies, and in fact can support multiple engines at once.

    Of course, MS does have their own engine now, which they bought back in 2003.
  • Lets face facts. Anything that MS does not absolutely dominate and crush all comers they only manage to squeeze out a middling so-so product. Clearly their intent is to bundle bundle bundle and make it harder to install or use anyone else's products. That is, it's meant to bind you to their brand harder whether it works well or not.

    Barring that it's probably another link in the chain of DRM dominance. Just how I haven't figured out yet but I'm pretty sure it's there.
  • Scifi (Score:5, Funny)

    by Deinesh (770292) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:51PM (#11613609)
    Kinda like a B grade Scifi movie, release a disease and charge money for the cure.
    • Re:Scifi (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Except in this case they also charge money for the disease!
  • Kudos... (Score:2, Funny)

    by OSX1337 (789865)
    ...To the first person to write a virus attacking a hole in this...
  • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:57PM (#11613668) Homepage Journal
    Well, they've almost four years before anyone is even remotely likely to take them to court for anti-trust/anti-competitive behaviour.


    I guess it comes down to this - can they bankrupt enough of the opposition, within the four years, to seize control of the market and prevent anyone else entering it?


    As for arguments that Microsoft should fix their software - nice try, but the lemon laws don't apply to software and there's nothing else that's likely to compell Microsoft to change. Unless someone would like to try talking the most conservative Congress in living memory into applying standards to software - are there any geeks rich enough, other than Bil Gates? - I don't see a single reason for Microsoft to change what has always been a profitable tactic - sell trash, then sell an even trashier "upgrade" for lots of money, and THEN convince the consumers that they have the better end of the deal.

  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @08:58PM (#11613683)
    Microsoft bought RAV some time ago- who made a fine Windows and Linux AV program. They also made RAV for most all of the UNIX mail programs such as qmail, courier, sendmail, postfix, etc.

    Was sad to see it go... apparently it was also to include its technology, but if you ask me, it was more to get it out of the antivirus mail server market.

    This is nothing new-- Microsoft buys anyone who has something to offer them or their competititors... yippie

    -M
  • by SunFan (845761) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:05PM (#11613752)

    At least Microsoft isn't getting into the condom business. "Introducing Microsoft Condom 3.0, now it actually prevents pregnancy!"

    • MS condom would be made of lace, and be coated in sand and an astringent on both sides. They'd bundle lubricant, to put other lube manufacturers out of business. And after years of unwanted pregnancies, they'd sell an add-on Microsoft Spermicide & IUD to actually stop pregnancies.
  • Great idea... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 808paulson (852724)
    I'll make a vulnerable product and then charge money to protect it.

  • I suspect that either this or RAV was for the definitions. This is the second AV company MS has picked up in the last 6 months, and integrating those codebases is awfully silly.

    Unless MS wasn't to market their code to the Unix server market which seems unlikely, this is probably just a case of MS using it's money to squirt out a reasonable product in the least amount of time.

    Virus definions and AV engines are pretty orthogonal, so MS can just buy two competeing companies and integrate their strengths. Voi
  • Microsoft's desktop security issues stem from its reliance on the Antivirus industries "Infect-Scan-Remove" approach.

    In comparison, right from the outset, open source desktop platforms and applications have relied almost wholly on closing the infectable vectors, the exploited vulnerabilities used by malware, as quickly as possible.

    Read the following Usenet thread from 2000 that covers the argument in detail [google.com] [google.com]. David Harley and Robert Moir are two Anitvirus industry leaders. It also includes

  • by e6003 (552415) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:30PM (#11613970) Homepage
    According to some very informative posts [yahoo.com] on the Yahoo SCOX stock board, Symantec has the rights to a very key patent in this area and McAfee has a perpetual, fully paid-up license to the said patent. Neither company would relish MSFT moving in on their nice little market and may well have solid legal grounding for setting $FELINE amongst $AVIANS.
  • You folks are all missing the true danger here, I suspect...

    Anti-virus software companies tend to share virus definitions. They race to find them and release them first, but for the most part (not always) they share the definitions for the damaging stuff. This is the only way for these companies to keep up with the flow of viruses. Microsoft has access to this same information.

    However, Microsoft also has (a) a vested interest in NOT telling people about viruses until it can plug the hole, (b) the bank acc
  • ...that MS would charge for their anti-virus software, otherwise they might have another anti-trust lawsuit no their hands (no pun, seriously).

    If a huge corporation packaged a good enough anti-virus suit with their operating system, that would seriously hurt Norton, McAfee, AVG, etc... The same reason why they were forced to provide a slimmed down version of their OS that didn't have a media player... it's unfair to the competition.

    Avoid lawsuits and make a few bucks? Yea... I think they're going to charg
  • Hmmm....so they want to sell products to "fix" the security holes they have in their products?

    It's like Ford [cnn.com] selling fire extinguishers and fire insurance for their customers. It's just not right.

    Thought there was a law against this sort of business practice. Like those companies that sell anti-spyware programs to remove their spyware that they install without the users permission in the first place.
  • No news here. Sybari already charges for Antigen. It's well worth the money, though.

  • 1. Write virus suseptible OS
    2. Buy anti-virus program.
    3. Buy more anti-virus programs.
    4. Charge people to use AV
    5. Profit!

    Very well thought out too. No ??? anywhere.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @12:02AM (#11615200) Homepage
    *IF* Microsoft were to become a big player in the anti-malware arena, it would add even more weight to the belief that Microsoft creates a bad product by design. Current percieved motivation for making inferior products:

    1. Create user desire to upgrade
    2. End of life for products meaning no more security updates, goto 1

    there will be a third -- to keep their antivirus business running.

    Microsoft is partly responsible for this problem and now they intend to profit from the problems (the millions of dollars lost in time wasted, the vast amounts of data, on and on) for which they are responsible? I think even pro-microsoft people would think badly of this move.

    But to buy businesses that utilize and support Linux? Highly anti-competitive and I'm surprised the DOJ isn't raising an eyebrow to this one.
  • The article states that Microsoft is thinking about charging for their anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

    Wouldn't that be considered corporate blackmail? To sell a product that's knowingly full of holes and offering to fix it "for a price"?

    Where's the friggin' Justice Department when you need them?

    ---

    Yeah, you can mod me down all day, but you know I have a valid point.

  • by benw1979 (779210) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @02:41AM (#11615931)
    I recently interviewed with this team, but did not sign any NDA's. The hiring managers were vague about the project, but intentionally gave me enough information to put together what they are doing.

    The team has been around for over a year, and is part of the Windows group. They will be offering some sort of subscription ($) based security service. I'm sure this acquisition and the acquisition of the anti-spyware technology are not unrelated.

    The team was placed in the Windows group in order to improve communication and turn around time with the developers. Hopefully this will mean faster resolutions and hotfixes to security issues.

    Also, there is apparently some client code that provides a "heartbeat" back to the Microsoft servers.

    I hope none of this information is sensitive... if it was I assume they would have had me sign the NDA.

  • by jean-guy69 (445459) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @04:12AM (#11616234)
    first there was an OS monoculture..
    then by including its browser and mail client in their OS, and preventing by its maneuvers other products to have a chance (ie: being included by the OEM), microsoft forcibly extended its mono-culture to two other important vectors of virus and spywares...

    combined with:

    • the numerous security fails discovered in these product in a regular fashion.. some of them very stupid and dangerous: attachment that open by itself and execute, by using audio/x-wav mime type.
    • bad default settings: hidden extensions (what have they done to prevent double extension scam in OE ?), netbios and co active by default on the internet connexion..etc..
    microsoft created a ground very favorable to virus, spyware, worms: we could euphemistically that that they have some responsability here..

    MS attempt to make money with antivirus/antispyware not only shows their opportunism but also their prevalent cynism.

    i guess that a antivirus and antispyware mono-culture is what we needed :/

    BTW for those poor fellows still using OS oses ;) there is a great paper about network services minimization on windows 2000/XP [www.hsc.fr] (also available in french [www.hsc.fr]) a good way to close some present and future security holes, thanks to herve schauer consultants.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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