"We understand that OneCare will release as early as later this week," said Marc Solomon, McAfee's director of product management, as he touted the "Falcon" service that the Santa Clara, Calif. company announced Tuesday.
"It's a little bit of shame on us," said Solomon, "but we've had security as a service since 1999. We've let people forget that."
McAfee won't let that happen again, he added, because it will launch Falcon -- a code name for a multi-edition set of security subscriptions -- later this summer. Although details are few, and Solomon would not elaborate or comment on questions regarding such things as pricing or service configurations, Falcon will be a multi-point defensive platform of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and something called "threat watch" technologies.
"The whole purpose of Falcon is to take our experience with security service [and aim] at the threats that are now blending together."
Like OneCare, which has been in beta since November 2005 and got McAfee's and Symantec's attention in February by announcing a $49.95 annual subscription price, Falcon will feature automatic, background updates; stresses a "set it and forget it" approach; and will work with Windows XP.
Solomon did acknowledge that local backup would be part of the Falcon service -- a feature shared with OneCare -- but that it would offer defenses beyond the anti-virus/anti-spyware/firewall combination of Microsoft's service.
"There'll be something we call McAfee X-ray for Windows that scans beneath the file system for rootkits and stealth technologies," Solomon said. "Another feature, SystemGuards, will look for specific behaviors, like a Trojan that's trying to change the local HOSTS file, and detect and stop that, or alert the user."
Symantec, meanwhile, renewed its pledge to fight OneCare with its own security subscription service. "Genesis," which was first announced in February, will include anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, as well as a firewall, PC tune-up utilities, online backup, and anti-fraud and anti-phishing defenses.
Its release, however, is no longer set for September, as the Cupertino, Calif. company said earlier this year. "We'll have a beta in the summer, and [the final] will be available before the end of Symantec's fiscal year, which is March 2007," said Tom Powledge, Symantec's senior director for product management.
Powledge wouldn't comment on whether the delay was marketing- or development-driven. "We're doing a lot of customer research. We are being very deliberate in how we bring this product to market." Nor would he comment on pricing, or whether Genesis would be competitive with OneCare's $49.95 annual fee.
One thing that both McAfee's Solomon and Symantec's Powledge agreed on, however, was that their services would trump Microsoft's OneCare.
"OneCare is an incomplete solution," charged Solomon. "It's coming out with [just] anti-virus, anti-spyware, backup, and firewall integrated. That's a traditional protection and technology, but it does nothing to protect users when they're online from ID theft. You'll see a lot of that theme in our offerings."
"When you look at what Genesis has in it, you'll find things like identity protection that you don't find inside OneCare," Powledge said. "Genesis is focused on expanding security needs, not just the essentials."
Neither company is willing to concede the consumer security market to Microsoft.
In fact, said McAfee's Solomon, the new rival may be good for business.
"It may be a good thing," he said. "It should pump up awareness of security. There are lots of systems in the 'white space,' machines that don't have proper protection."