Tech Insider

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Microsoft Acquires Giant Company Software

Microsoft Corp. has acquired antispyware vendor Giant Company Software Inc. in New York for an undisclosed amount.

Microsoft, which announced the acquisition today, will use Giant's intellectual property and technology assets to provide Windows users with new tools for protecting against spyware.

A beta version of a spyware protection tool based on Giant's technology will be available for users of Windows 2000 and later versions in about a month. The tool will be capable of detecting and removing spyware and other malware from infected systems, Microsoft said.

"Spyware is a serious and growing problem for PC users, and customers have made it clear that they want Microsoft to deliver effective solutions to protect against the threat," said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's security business and technology unit.

Amy Carroll, director of Microsoft's security business and technology unit, said the beta version of the software would be available for free download from the company's Web site in January. The beta version will be based on the Giant AntiSpyware product and will give users an easy-to-use tool for getting rid of spyware, she said.

No decision has yet been made on whether the tool will be integrated into future Windows versions or will be sold as a stand-alone product, Carroll said. "Our immediate job right now is to get the beta out."

Microsoft's move addresses growing concerns over the security threat posed by spyware, said Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass. "Spyware has become the new scourge on PC users," he said.

But there is no clear leader so far when it comes to products aimed at fighting the problem. "Microsoft is jumping into a new market, where they have as good a chance as anyone else to make an impact," Oltsik said.

Microsoft's purchase of Giant comes as a growing number of security vendors are coming to market with enterprise versions of spyware products originally developed for the consumer market.

Among the vendors offering such tools are McAfee Inc.; Computer Associates International Inc., which in August acquired PestPatrol Inc.; Webroot Software Inc.; and antivirus software vendor Trend Micro Inc.

Microsoft's purchase of Giant is its second significant move in the security market and is another indication of the company's growing interest in integrating security functions into its products. In June 2003, Microsoft bought a Romanian antivirus software maker, GeCAD Software, for an undisclosed price.

Microsoft is expected to make antivirus capabilities available in future versions of Windows as a result of that purchase.

Source: ComputerWorld

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