Posted by: kurtsh | February 7, 2006

NEWS: Microsoft OneCare managed anti-virus solution for individuals and small businesses gets a price set

Microsoft Sets Pricing For New Security Service
By RIVA RICHMOND
February 7, 2006 3:21 p.m.
 
Microsoft Corp. plans to launch its consumer-security service, Windows OneCare, in early June for an annual subscription charge of $49.95, well below competing products from security-software makers.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant said OneCare will be available in English initially and sold both in a boxed product in retail stores and over the Internet. It will cover up to three PCs in a single household and include free phone, email and chat help.
 
The service, which includes virus protection, a firewall, file-backup and other tools, has been undergoing open "beta" testing by consumers, who have had free use of the product in exchange for providing Microsoft with feedback, since early December. To date, OneCare hasn’t included Microsoft’s antispyware product, but Microsoft said that it will be included at the end of February.
 
The company said it will offer beta testers a discounted rate of $19.95 for a year if they sign up in April. Nearly 200,000 people are now beta users, but Microsoft expects that number to jump to one million by the time the test period ends on April 30 — in time to clinch the discount.
 
"It will be the best value in the market," said Ryan Hamlin, general manager of Microsoft’s technology care-and-safety group. "It’s doing the right thing for the customer … and from a business standpoint, we’re doing the right thing for Microsoft."
 
As investors in security-software makers have feared, Microsoft will be undercutting current prices. Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc. charge $69.99 for a single license for their security suites and more for additional machines, though some promotional prices are available. They also typically charge $20 or $30 each time a customer calls a phone-support line for help.
 
In a sign that Microsoft’s approach is already affecting the market, Symantec unveiled a new consumer service on Tuesday called Genesis that will be available in the fall. It combines the security protections offered in its suite with features for identifying scam Web sites. It didn’t announce the service’s price, except to say pricing would be similar to its other consumer products. McAfee has long offered an online security service.
 
Security-software makers have long said they are prepared to compete with Microsoft for consumers, citing their established expertise and track records of quality products as well as customer distrust of Microsoft on security matters. Microsoft has been under fire for years for programming bugs in its software that have allowed malicious programs like viruses, hacker attacks and spyware to proliferate on Windows PCs.
 
For its part, Microsoft hopes to woo users with a service that takes care of all security and PC "health" worries and that is designed to be very easy to use and, thus, will appeal to the estimated 70% of Windows users who don’t use security software at all or have it but don’t keep it up to date.
 
"The product was designed for the 70% of users who are unprotected today" from Internet threats, Mr. Hamlin said. "We’ll compete for customers in the other 30%, but we really want to go after the untapped."
Microsoft said it will lay the ground for launches of OneCare internationally in other languages by starting open beta tests in the next few months.
 

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