McAfee sends 'Falcon' after Symantec, Microsoft

Consumer security software due out this summer is pitted against Microsoft's OneCare and Symantec's upcoming 'Genesis.'

McAfee is readying new security software, code-named Falcon, to rival upcoming products from Symantec and newcomer Microsoft.

The product will integrate features found in McAfee's current range of security products with a revamped user interface to manage it, McAfee said in a statement Tuesday. The Santa Clara, Calif., company had been expected to make such an announcement in response to Microsoft's entry into the security market.

Falcon will protect PCs against spam, viruses, spyware and other threats such as phishing scams and rootkits, McAfee said. It will also offer tools to prevent data loss, help optimize PC performance and secure a wireless network, it said. The product is slated to debut this summer in a variety of packages.

"OneCare and Genesis are promoted as all-in-one, everything-you-need offerings," Marc Solomon, director of product management at McAfee, said in an interview. "We have done extensive research and talked to a lot of consumers and found out that one size does not always fit all."

Like Microsoft and Symantec, McAfee is promoting Falcon as a security product that is easy to use. The product will be sold as a service, with the consumer paying a recurring subscription price. Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare and Symantec's "Genesis" will also be sold on the same basis, the companies have said.

"McAfee has been doing security as a service since 1999, yet Symantec and Microsoft are coming out and touting this as a new thing," Solomon said. "There is a lot of learning that we have been able to integrate."

Overall, the new McAfee product looks very compelling, said Chris Swenson, an analyst at The NPD Group. "I think it will definitely help McAfee compete against the new subscription-based offerings from Microsoft and Symantec," he said. Yet, Swenson said he would have liked to see more details from McAfee, particularly pricing.

The consumer security software market is about to be shaken up by Microsoft's entry into the space. The software giant plans to ship OneCare next month, charging $49.95 a year to shield up to three PCs against viruses, spyware and other cyberthreats. Microsoft unveiled its plans for OneCare in May 2005.

In anticipation of Microsoft's entry into the consumer security domain, Symantec announced its Genesis service, which offers many of the same features as OneCare and McAfee's Falcon and is due by the end of September. Symantec and McAfee have not announced pricing for their new products.

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