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Rival Calls Microsoft's Security Pricing 'Predatory,' 'Ruthless'

Microsoft's low security software prices are putting the entire security software ecosystem at risk, the chief executive of a Florida company said Wednesday.

Microsoft's priced its consumer and enterprise security software at levels so low that it's putting the entire security software ecosystem at risk, the chief executive of a Florida company said Wednesday.

"Microsoft's practicing a form of predatory pricing," said Alex Eckelberry, who heads Clearwater, Fla.-based Sunbelt Software. Sunbelt develops a variety of consumer and enterprise security products, but is best known for its CounterSpy anti-spyware application. In December, it acquired firewall maker Kerio Technologies, Inc.

"Predatory pricing relies on a manufacturer losing money in the short term to dive out competitors in the long term," said Eckelberry. "One could argue whether [what Microsoft is doing] is an antitrust issue, but it has a potentially chilling effect on the security landscape."

How Microsoft prices its security products has been a concern of security analysts and vendors since at least February, when the company set the cost of its Windows Live OneCare security subscription service at $49.95.

But until now no one had put the pricing differences between Microsoft and its rivals into black and white.

In his blog Tuesday, Eckelberry posted an analysis of Microsoft's pricing of its $49.95 consumer-oriented OneCare, and its Antigen messaging security line, which was announced earlier this month.

Eckelberry compared the pricing of OneCare and the Antigen titles with similar offerings from McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro. According to his analysis, OneCare's price undercuts Symantec's and McAfee's current consumer products by 44 and 29 percent, respectively. The difference between Microsoft's Antigen line and enterprise programs from its rivals is even greater: for a two-year license, Eckelberry calculated Microsoft's prices are between 53 and 63 percent less than the competition.

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