Microsoft will begin testing an anti-spyware product for businesses by the end of the year, and start testing new anti-virus software next year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at a news conference in Munich, Germany Thursday. Ballmer appeared at the event in the technology-heavy German city, which houses the European offices of several large tech companies, with corporate VP Mike Nash, who heads the company's security unit.
Speaking in advance of the announcement, a Microsoft manager said Ballmer and Nash will disclose that the company is developing software called "client protection technology" that can guard companies' PCs against spyware and includes management features for IT departments and integration with Windows' Active Directory. A test release is due by the end of the year. Microsoft has been testing software called Windows Antispyware for consumers since January.
The execs will also reveal a target date of the first half of next year to start testing antivirus software called Antigen, based on Microsoft's acquisition of Sybari Software in June. Microsoft also will form an industry group called the Secure IT Alliance with VeriSign, Symantec, Trend Micro, and other companies. The group will build a development lab to design computer security technology, according to Microsoft.
Michael Cherry, an analyst at technology consulting company Directions on Microsoft, said in a recent interview that Microsoft has an incentive to help its business customers avoid computer security problems since they deplete budgets that could otherwise go to spending for new technology. "IT departments have fixed budgets," says Cherry. "If, out of the blue, they have to spend three unbudgeted weeks fixing security problems, that's 1,000 man-hours lost from other projects. That has to be paid for with real money."