The virus checking product isn't free, though; it will cost users $29.95 per year. It is an example of the "value-added" products that Bigfoot plans to add to make money and attract users, executives said.
The plan is meant to combat a mounting problem: killing off viruses acquired through email attachments. The problem can be compounded with the increasing use of Java and ActiveX viruses, which can "hide within the email message itself," as Bigfoot chairman Leonard Barshack puts it. The exploding use of free email products such as Bigfoot only escalates the risk.
Unlike other free email products, Bigfoot does not require users to return to its Web site each time to get email; rather, it typically is redirected through ISPs or even a Web-based email such as Hotmail--kind of like taking the same phone number from home to home.
"By moving virus filters from the desktop--where upgrades must be continuously conducted on an individual basis--to Bigfoot's email gateway, where upgrades are automatic and universally effective, consumers receive the most powerful available virus protection regardless of who they use as an Internet service provider," the companies said in a statement.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
McAfee will routinely send software updates to Bigfoot so its customers will have access to the latest upgrades.
As for those who prefer other antivirus software, Barshack responded: "If they disagree with our choice, they disagree with our choice. McAfee is the leader in the industry and it's going to be around."