7 January 2005 Microsoft is to offer free virus removal tools as part of its continued push into the security software market.
The company says it will make the anti-virus software available for download from 11 January. As part of a growing family of security tools, it searches through PC files and deletes well-known viruses and worms. A sister product for combatting spyware is already available on beta test.
The tools presage a full-blown Microsoft anti-virus programme, which is expected to be launched in the Spring. These latest bundled products are a response to the estimate that as many as 90% of all Windows machines have malicious software on board, with the average PC harbouring 28 separate spyware programs.
Microsoft signalled its intentions to join the anti-virus market with its purchase Romanian security software company GeCAD in June 2003. And last month it added further security expertise with the takeover of Giant Company Software, a New York author of anti-spyware tools.
As news of the move has filtered out, shares in leading anti-virus companies have fallen. Symantec stock is down by 10% and McAfee shares have tumbled by around 15% since the beginning of the year. In a recent annual report, McAfee stated its products would be rendered ‘obsolete and unmarketable’ if Microsoft began to incorporate security software in Windows.