Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs, said he isn't concerned by Microsoft's potential charge into the antivirus space because he believes no single company can dominate that particular market.
Having made three antivirus-related acquisitions, the software giant is inching towards launching its own dedicated product. However, the software giant has kept mum about they type of product it's developing, which has led established antivirus firms to speculate about how a Microsoft-branded antivirus product would affect their business.
"When Microsoft comes on the market with a new product it's usually a big mess for companies developing competitive solutions. I think it will be the same in the antivirus business because it's not possible to dominate the security market."
"Imagine there are a lot of thieves but there is just one standard lock for the door -- all the thieves would be able to open that door in a second," he said in an interview with ZDNet Australia  the AusCERT security conference recently.
In some ways, he welcomes the introduction of a Microsoft antivirus solution because "it is likely to make the Internet a safer place".
"I think Microsoft could be a good addition to the market. If there is a Microsoft antivirus [product] for people that don't care at all about security, I think the situation will be safer than it is at the moment," said Kaspersky.
Jason Garms, group product manager for Microsoft's anti-malware product team, confirmed that the company was developing an antivirus product and said all employees from previous acquisitions have been retained.
"We are absolutely getting into the antivirus space. All the people that came from the [GeCad] acquisition are still part of my team," said Garms.
Microsoft is currently beta testing an anti-spyware tool and recently launched a Malicious Software Removal Tool designed to rid Windows-based computers of malware. However, Garms said neither of these tools could be called an antivirus product because they are not proactive.
Recently, Dr Jan Hruska, co-founder of Sophos, told ZDNet Australia  that it was likely Microsoft would enter the antivirus market but probably concentrate on the consumer market -- a move that could threaten companies like Symantec.
But Symantec quashed such talk months earlier when its CEO John Thompson said, "I'd rather fight Microsoft in the marketplace because I'm sure we'll whip them".
In December, market research firm Gartner said there was an 80 percent chance that Microsoft would release a combined antivirus and anti-spyware product in the second half of 2005. These products would be cheaper than the competition and would affect traditional antivirus firms such as Symantec, it predicted.