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Microsoft Seen Overtaking Consumer Security Software Market

Microsoft will put the hurt on some players in the security software game as it rolls out its own defensive products and its Windows Vista operating system, an analyst said Tuesday.

"The McAfees, Symantecs, and Trends won't be put to bed by Microsoft, not in the enterprise," said Natalie Lambert, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Microsoft's security efforts will lack the functionality that [those companies' products] have" for at least 18 to 24 months, she added. "McAfee, Symantec, and Trend have more than just anti-virus and anti-spyware. That's a huge advantage."

But Microsoft's entry into the security space -- which started with a series of acquisitions beginning in 2003 -- clearly has some security vendors worried. Monday, John Thompson, Symantec's chief executive, said that the Cupertino, Calif.-based security giant was concerned about Microsoft playing "fair" in the marketplace.

Lambert said that Thompson has a right to be worried, up to a point. "Knowing Microsoft, it will be able to undercut rivals [on pricing]." Yet there's a silver lining in Thompson's cloud. "I truly believe that Microsoft will always be a step behind the true security vendors." She listed problems Microsoft faces, ranging from the lack of sophisticated management tools like McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator, to its inability to offer security for platforms other than Windows.

"Management of security is a nightmare," Lambert said. "And McAfee and Trend own the central management solutions."

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