Bring On the Security Price Wars

The move to “security as a service” may be largely a conspiracy to increase prices, but maybe it doesn’t have to end up that way.

Up top here I should concede that I made a careless error in a recent column by forgetting the fact that Microsoft’s OneCare includes a license to protect up to three computers, whereas the company’s competitors typically make you get licenses for one at a time.

I actually had heard this and readers were quick to point it out in the talkbacks to the column (thanks).

Is this a good thing? Alex Eckelberry of Sunbelt Software doesn’t think so, and from his perspective—as a provider of security software—having Microsoft come in and start a price war is a bad thing. You, the reader, have a different perspective.

I remember Comdex in (I believe) 1991, when Microsoft announced the release of Access for $99, a fraction of the $495 that Borland and others were charging for their products. At a party at that show I overheard Philippe Kahn of Borland telling a reporter, “I don’t know who benefits from a price war in software.”

This from the man who made his fame on a $49 compiler, competing against (if I remember correctly from 1984) programs that cost in the $500 to $1500 range.

It was a good thing for customers that Microsoft set prices in a downward direction for business productivity software, and it can be a good thing for them if pricing pressures make security software more affordable. This is Microsoft’s real goal.

For advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internet’s Security IT Hub.

For months Microsoft has been spreading the message that its research shows—and it seems intuitively true to me—that a huge percentage of users have no anti-malware protection at all, or have an old program with an expired license.

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