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Microsoft to buy antivirus software firm

Software giant has been toying with virus-fighting tools for some time. Purchase of Sybari gives it more options.

Microsoft plans to acquire Sybari Software, marking its latest effort to bolster its presence in the corporate security market.

Sybari, a privately held company based in East Northport, N.Y., develops security software that can be used with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes messaging servers. Sybari's technology is designed to fight viruses, worms and spam, with such products as Antigen file-filtering.

"Through this acquisition, we're excited...to provide customers with a server-level antivirus solution that delivers advanced file- and content-filtering capabilities," Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's Security Business and Technology Unit, said in a statement Tuesday.

Sybari sells technology that enables customers to run antivirus or spam-blocking software from other vendors on top of its own products, analysts said.

"Microsoft can put its Microsoft antivirus engine on top of Sybari, or a customer can continue to use Symantec's and McAfee's antivirus engines," IDC analyst Charles Kolodgy said.

The benefit for Microsoft is it gives the software giant a "much needed platform" to provide content security for its Exchange messaging servers at the gateway, Kolodgy added.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Microsoft did not release a schedule for closing the transaction, but noted that Sybari will maintain its current operations until regulatory approval is obtained.

The plan to acquire Sybari is part of the software titan's larger effort to strengthen its presence in security.

Microsoft already owns some antivirus technology, which it bought from Romania's GeCad in 2003, but it has not yet released its own antivirus product. Two months ago, Microsoft announced plans to acquire anti-spyware vendor Giant Company Software.