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Microsoft's antivirus package makes a splash

Aided by low introductory pricing, Windows Live OneCare lands No. 2 sales spot at U.S. stores in its debut month.

Helped by low pricing, Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare landed the No. 2 spot in sales at American stores in its debut month, according to The NPD Group.

The antivirus and PC care package nabbed 15.4 percent of security suite sales at retailers such as Best Buy and, according to NPD's data. The average price was $29.67, well below Microsoft's list price of $49.95. Online at, OneCare is .

"Microsoft's penetration pricing strategy is clearly working and they are capturing significant unit share," NPD analyst Chris Swenson told CNET "I think many in the industry were surprised with how well Windows Live OneCare did in its first month on the market."

OneCare hit U.S. store shelves in late May, three years after Microsoft announced its intent to move into the antivirus realm. The product combines antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software with backup features and several tune-up tools for Windows PCs. Symantec and McAfee have both announced new products to rival OneCare.

"We see our comprehensive 'PC Care' approach as a new and important direction for consumer PC services and are encouraged to see that more consumers are taking steps to effectively protect and maintain their PCs," Samantha McManus, a business strategy manager at Microsoft, said in an e-mailed statement.

Microsoft took market share from all incumbents in June, according to NPD's data. It particularly gained on market leader Symantec, which saw its unit share drop 10.1 percentage points from May. At the same time, McAfee lost 3.3 points and Trend Micro dropped 1.3 points.

Symantec noted that NPD covers retail sales only, and does not include consumer sales through Internet service providers and PC makers, for example. "We just had a record June quarter in consumer sales," said Mike Plante, a marketing director at the company. "You can't really draw market share conclusions from the NPD data alone, particularly with just a month of data."

Symantec also remained the clear leader in the retail channel, with 59.8 percent of security suite sales, NPD said. Microsoft was second, followed by Trend Micro with 8.9 percent and McAfee with 7.1 percent.