Microsoft to Buy Anti-Virus Software Firm

Tuesday, February 8th 2005, 1:17 pm
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday that it plans to acquire Sybari Software Inc., which makes programs designed to protect business computer networks from viruses, worms and other threats.

Terms of the deal, the latest in a series of security-related purchases by Microsoft, were not disclosed. Sybari is privately held but filed papers last year for an initial public stock offering.

Redmond-based Microsoft is gearing up to release a set of antivirus software products that will compete with offerings from companies such as Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc.

The Sybari acquisition will produce Microsoft's first official separate paid antivirus offering, said Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit.

Sybari has about 10,000 clients and is based in East Northport, N.Y. Its software scans businesses' e-mail to try to ward off attacks.

Nash said Microsoft would make the Sybari-based product, geared toward business customers, available under the Microsoft brand soon after the deal closes.

Microsoft has not yet said how much the new product will cost.

In an interview, Nash said Microsoft would subsequently release other products, for both consumers and business users, aimed at protecting computer desktops from Internet-based attacks. He could not yet say exactly when those would be released, however.

Sybari is just the latest company Microsoft has bought so it can make its own security products.

It purchased a Romanian antivirus firm, GeCAD Software Srl., for an undisclosed amount in 2003. Then, in December, it bought Giant Company Software Inc., which makes tools to remove spyware, software that monitors a person's computer habits, slows down computers, triggers pop-up ads and worse.

Earlier this year, Microsoft began offering free programs to remove viruses and spyware. It plans to eventually charge for more sophisticated antivirus tools, and it has said it may one day charge for spyware removal products as well.

The moves all come amid a continued onslaught of attacks against Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system and other products. As the attacks tangle up businesses and harm consumers, the company has made bolstering security a priority.