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Symantec To Defend Itself Against Microsoft In Consumer Security Market

New software code-named Genesis will deliver software as a service, including anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and firewall.
Symantec plans to defend its consumer security turf against inroads by Microsoft with new software delivered over the Internet and sold as a service, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said Friday.

The new software, for now dubbed "Genesis," will go on the market in September, said Tom Powledge, director of product management. "Genesis will deliver security software as a service, and is our first consumer product designed to be a service from the get-go."

The service will include components snatched from existing Symantec products, as well as new technologies, said Powledge. Anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, intrusion prevention, and firewall bits will be taken from Norton Internet Security, PC optimization and maintenance tools from Norton SystemWorks, and new zero-hour threat prevention, anti-phishing, and identity theft prevention technologies from the September 2005 purchase of WholeSecurity.

It will also provide both offline and online backup and recovery, a new component developed within Symantec's consumer group, not ripped from the company's Ghost disk imager or the enterprise-style Veritas technologies. Online storage space will start at 1GB, which will be included in the service's annual subscription price.

"This is the crux of Genesis," said Powledge. "We're taking new technologies and integrating them into our existing [technologies] in a modular way."

Some may see Genesis as Symantec's answer to Microsoft's OneCare Live consumer subscription service (which is still in beta), but Powledge naturally views it differently.

"We don't see Genesis as a copy of OneCare. We think OneCare is a copy of what Symantec was delivering five years ago."

Tension between the partners has been increasing since Microsoft it entered the consumer security software market in 2003 with the purchase of Romania-based GeCAD Software, an anti-virus vendor, and Giant Company Software, an anti-spyware developer.

But the brawl's now out in the open. On Tuesday, Symantec chief executive John Thompson told analysts that his company would "duke it out" with Microsoft, and any other comers, in the consumer space. "We're not going to be back on our heels here," he said. "We have to focus more on the new threats as opposed to the old problem that we perceive Microsoft is focused on. They're solving yesterday's problem with yesterday's technology.

"That being said, we can't be unmindful of the aggressiveness that Microsoft can muster, the amount of money they can throw at a particular problem."

Symantec can't afford to back down. Its latest quarterly financial report showed a 10 percent decline in consumer software sales revenue.

"Genesis will be as silent, as automatic for the users as we can make it," said Powledge. "It's a natural evolution in security."

Prices for Genesis, and its final moniker, won't be disclosed until later this year.

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