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McAfee.com eyes businesses with online offerings

The antivirus software maker guns for the business market with a raft of new Web-based offerings, including word processing and security software and online data storage.

LAS VEGAS--Antivirus software maker McAfee.com is gunning for the business market with a raft of new Web-based offerings, including word processing and security software and online data storage.

McAfee.com on Monday will announce at Comdex here that it plans to offer to the corporate market the security software that it has been offering to consumers over the Web.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Comdex 2000:
Back to the future company also will announce Monday the online availability of new office software such as word processing and spreadsheet applications and a new Web service that will allow people to store their files online.

With the new services, employees with Web browsers will be able to type a letter using the online word processor and store it online using the McAfee.com Web site, said Sam Curry, the company's security architect.

McAfee.com, which competes against Symantec, is one of many software makers that have entered the emerging application service provider (ASP) market, in which companies rent their software over the Web. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and others are hosting software and services online, meaning that their customers don't have to install and manage the software themselves.

The company, which claims to have 650,000 subscribers, is making its new Web services for businesses available at no cost for the next two months, but it will start charging for them next year.

The services will cost between $50 and $70 a year for each employee. McAfee.com, whose stock has plummeted from a 52-week high of $63.75 to about $7, is hoping that the new strategy will translate into more sales. Last month, the company reported a third-quarter net loss of $3.8 million, or 9 cents per share. Third-quarter revenues nearly doubled, from $6.8 million last year to $12.6 million this year.

New Web services for businesses include antivirus software for PCs and handheld devices, as well as "firewall" security software that protects PCs and devices from hackers.

The software maker is also making available a help-desk service that includes a "first aid" feature to automatically fix PC problems and software that can uninstall applications from a computer. The service also will include software that recovers lost or deleted files and an online library that tutors employees on using PCs.

McAfee.com's office software is compatible with Microsoft's Office products, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. To offer the service, McAfee.com is partnering with ThinkFree, a Web site that offers office applications over the Web, and Driveway, a Web site that offers online storage.