Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Microsoft Moves On Spyware To Stymie Firefox
TechWeb ^ | December 17, 2004 | Gregg Keizer

Posted on 12/18/2004 2:29:57 PM PST by Eagle9

Microsoft bought anti-spyware technology this week to protect its Internet Explorer browser from surging rivals like Mozilla's Firefox, a group of Gartner analysts said Friday.

Thursday, Microsoft announced that it was purchasing the New York-based Giant Company Software, and would release a beta edition of a spyware-fighting program for Windows 2000 and XP within 30 days.

Spyware is the broad term that defines software installed without users' knowledge or permission, and covers everything from relatively benign adware that tracks Web sites visited to malicious key loggers that record every keystroke in the hope of stealing passwords and financial account info. Spyware has been blamed for slowing down PCs, making them unusable on the Web due to incessant pop-ups, and for causing large fractions -- 25 to 50 percent -- of all help desk calls to the likes of Dell and Microsoft.

"The real reason for the acquisition," said John Pescatore, vice president at Gartner and the leader of a four-analyst team that published a brief on Microsoft's spyware motivations, "is that spyware problems have been making people defect from Internet Explorer. Microsoft has to protect IE until a new version comes out, which won't be until Longhorn. It has to protect IE now, since any anti-spyware improvements to IE won't show until Windows XP SP3 is released, which won't be until the second half of 2005."

Longhorn, the next generation Windows, isn't expected until 2006 or 2007.

"Firefox is safer than IE when it comes to spyware," said Pescatore, talking about the prime competitor to IE in a renewed battle of the browser. "It doesn't do ActiveX, for one thing," he noted.

Concerns over spyware specifically and other security problems generally are driving many enterprises and some consumers to think about or actually switch from Microsoft's IE to Firefox, Pescatore went on. "The Giant acquisition shows that Microsoft is taking this threat seriously," he said.

Firefox has been eating away at IE's still-dominant position since May. Since then it's captured 4 to 5 percent of the browser business.

Microsoft's march toward defending Windows, and IE in particular, isn't driven by profits per se, said Pescatore, which will let it undercut offerings from anti-virus firms like Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, and others.

By mid-2005, Gartner's analysts are predicting that Microsoft will release a combined anti-virus/anti-spyware product aimed at enterprises, and price it at least 20 percent lower than the competition.

"Microsoft doesn't care about the revenue, it just wants to make it so that Windows doesn't look bad," said Pescatore, alluding to the constant barrage of media reports of spyware afflicting Windows' PCs. "They won't give it away or dump it for, say, a dollar; that would present too many political problems. But since Microsoft won't be dependent on revenues from anti-virus or anti-spyware software, they'll go after market share."

Last year, Microsoft bought technology from GeCAD, a little-known anti-virus vendor based in Rumania. At that time, similar concerns were raised by anti-virus rivals. So far, however, threats to their business haven't materialized. Microsoft, for instance, points users to third-party anti-virus products on its own Web site.

Although Microsoft's move into spyware is similar to last year's anti-virus venture, there are differences, said Pescatore. For one thing, Microsoft was waiting to acquire anti-spyware technology before really getting into the anti-virus business.

"You have to have a spyware component in anti-virus," claimed Pescatore.

The combination, he said, will make Microsoft a tough competitor for security firms. "I definitely think Microsoft will compete with the likes of Symantec," said Pescatore.

"On the enterprise side, there won't be much near-term impact," he added, noting that it will take time for Microsoft to integrate the acquired anti-virus and anti-spyware technologies into its own management systems, and that corporations already committed to a mainline security firm is unlikely to switch to Microsoft's first generation product.

But on the small business and consumer side it'll be another story.

"Symantec has been seeing this coming," he said. "Look at what they've been doing lately, adding to the their enterprise offerings. They knew the consumer side was going to face Microsoft."

TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: computersecurity; firefox; microsoft; spyware
I use Firefox to avoid having to clean out spyware, or at least reduce the amount of spyware that I end up removing, using programs that are written specifically for that purpose.
1 posted on 12/18/2004 2:29:57 PM PST by Eagle9
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Eagle9

Anyone surprised at this?

2 posted on 12/18/2004 2:31:14 PM PST by zzen01
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9

ping for Monday - spyware is killing us at work, and it's not possible for us to switch from IE.

3 posted on 12/18/2004 2:33:13 PM PST by nina0113
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9

Just use Firefox people. For a change lets not allow MS to buy their way out of a problem because of their lax development!
4 posted on 12/18/2004 2:35:06 PM PST by KoRn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9

At home I use Safari on OS X: no spyware or viruses. At work, Netscape 7.2 on XP. Minimal spyware, no ActiveX. I use AdAware to keep my Windows system clean. I wish they'd let us switch to the Macintosh at the office.

5 posted on 12/18/2004 2:35:16 PM PST by Astronaut
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9; All
Here's a partial collection of somewhat related links:

 The Fox Is in Microsoft's Henhouse (and Salivating)
 Firefox is hot; Thunderbird's not — for good reason -- Since Version 1.0 of Firefox went public about a month ago, about 10 million Internet Explorer users have seen the white-hot light and switched...
 Massive IE phishing exploit discovered 
Now that you have changed to Firefox, go to this thread to help you out.... if you are on a Broadband Internet connection.
How To Speed Up Firefox (Helpful Vanity)
 Safe Personal Computing
 Spyware Is the Scourge of Microsoft Windows Users
 New search engines let you find Web videos
 Five important fixes in MS December patch batch
Zafi Worm Hides Behind Christmas Cheer (Don't Click!)
 Top 10 "Most Unwanted" Spyware Named -- Router with firewall is a must these-days (extra firewall layer, and use multiple comps...)
Free Help here:
 Currently I'm running pretty safely  with Adaware, Spybot, Firefox, AVG, Sun Java (people forget this upgrade) Zone Alarm and a router. And I deactivated ActiveX for all but Windows update.
 Two Million Scans Uncover 55 Million Instances of Spyware,

6 posted on 12/18/2004 2:35:50 PM PST by backhoe (-30-)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9
Microsoft doesn't care about the revenue

LOL !!!

7 posted on 12/18/2004 2:38:06 PM PST by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9

I made the switch a couple months ago... and never looked back.

8 posted on 12/18/2004 2:43:08 PM PST by samtheman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eagle9
This is a prime example WHY competition works; without competition, Microsoft would never have done anything about this problem.

Time for me to hit the tip can for Firefox again.
9 posted on 12/18/2004 2:52:08 PM PST by kingu (Which would you bet on? Iraq and Afghanistan? Or Haiti and Kosovo?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: zzen01
"Anyone surprised at this? "

I am! I searched for weeks for the best spyware remover. Now MS bought them!!

10 posted on 12/18/2004 3:19:29 PM PST by Read2Know
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: zzen01

No surprise here. Microsoft had to act and they did. Love them or hate them, they aren't stupid.

11 posted on 12/18/2004 3:22:15 PM PST by Poser (Joining Belly Girl in the Pajamahadeen)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson