Qwest a Microsoft Security Customer

ISP Qwest Communications became the first to support Microsoft’s
recently unveiled Windows Live OneCare security product.

Although the
announcement doesn’t signal an antivirus revolt, the move is a “step
in the right direction for Microsoft,” according to experts.

Qwest is offering a OneCare subscription for free to its 1.7 million broadband users despite the fact that Microsoft charges $50 for the retail version.

A rollout date or financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Qwest, which also offers antivirus protection from Microsoft
rival McAfee as part of an MSN Premium service, said the move
is part of an eventual adoption of the Windows Live platform, which
the Denver-based ISP expects to make available later this year.

While McAfee will continue to be part of MSN Premium, Qwest spokesperson Kate Varden told internetnews.com that it will not be offered with Windows Live.

Qwest is one of the two ISPs that has bundled the Microsoft MSN
Premium service with its broadband connections, according to Matt
Rosoff of Directions on Microsoft.

But that relationship, plus
Microsoft’s minor investment in Qwest, doesn’t necessarily mean
future ISP agreements.

The agreement shows Microsoft has convinced at least one ISP,
but Qwest is not anywhere near the size of Comcast, Yankee Group
security analyst Jonathan Singer said.

McAfee currently is embraced by some of the largest ISPs,
including Comcast, AOL and EarthLink.

After Qwest, who may next adopt OneCare? “Verizon is the next
likely candidate,” Rosoff said.

A Microsoft spokesperson refused comment on any upcoming
agreements with other ISPs, saying only “additional partners are not
out of the question.”

While today’s announcement “shows how aggressive [Microsoft] can
be, just because they enter a market, doesn’t mean they’re always
going to win,” Chris Swenson of NPD Group said.

Symantec, which could be another security vendor feeling the pinch
of Microsoft competition, has sued Microsoft for misappropriating its intellectual property and breaching its contract and patent infringement.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec in May asked a Seattle district court to stop Microsoft from selling Vista.

Symantec CEO John Thompson has called Microsoft a “Johnny-come-lately” to security software.

Unlike the firewall included with Windows XP Service
Pack 2, Vista handles both inbound and outbound traffic, something
currently available from Symantec, McAfee and others.

Vista will also
include Windows Defender, a freely available anti-spyware application.

Despite the demanding hardware requirements of Vista, including
1GB of memory, a Pentium 4 processor and 128MB video card, Yankee
Group analyst Andrew Jaquith told internetnews.com in May
“free and good enough beats costly and elegant.”

But Symantec and McAfee aren’t standing by as Microsoft rushes
in.

Automatic security updates are nothing exclusive to Microsoft,
said Swenson. All three security vendors plan to offer similar
subscription security products.

Symantec plans to release a test version of its
subscription-based Norton 360, code-named Genesis, in July. And McAfee said in a statement it will release its product, code-named Falcon, this
summer.

Falcon will make managing security transparent, according
to the company.

For Microsoft, the burden of proof remains on the software giant.

“Are these guys going to take 70 percent of the market overnight? Of
course not,” Swenson said.

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