Microsoft easing into antivirus efforts

Security specialist at software giant skirts speculation on possible acquisitions but says: "We're quite happy with what we've got."

AMSTERDAM--Microsoft is trying to dampen speculation that it will make a major acquisition in the antivirus market.

The software giant was the subject of rumors in June that it was in talks to buy security firm Network Associates.

Steven Adler, European senior security specialist at Microsoft, told at the TechEd developer conference here this week that the company's antivirus plans are still at an early stage, including the integration of software from last year's acquisition of antivirus firm GeCad.

"We're still working on integrating that technology," he said. "In the antivirus space, we have to work really closely with the antivirus vendors because we don't want to negatively impact their business."

He wouldn't comment directly on the Network Associates rumor, but Adler asserted that Microsoft is in no hurry to hit the acquisition trail.

"We're quite happy with what we've got," he said.

The possibility of acquisition wasn't ruled out completely, but Adler hinted that Microsoft will take the partnering route for future antivirus plans.

"The single object is we want to make sure every client system by default has an antivirus solution. Whether that's Microsoft or a third party, there needs to be that basic level of protection," he said.

Adler also dismissed continued criticism that open-source software is more secure than Microsoft's.

"It's really just a perception problem," he said. "The number of vulnerabilities in our products is coming down. On average in open source, there is at least one kernel patch every month and you have to reboot those systems."

Earlier in the week at the TechEd conference, Microsoft also hailed its forthcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 as a "victory for the security guys."

Andy McCue of reported from Amsterdam.

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