In an interview with news.com's Joris Evers, Symantec CEO John Thompson was asked if he subscribed to the Microsoft's notion that buying Vista makes you much safer online than with XP:
Consumers should not be confused. Vista is not a security solution. Vista is an operating system, and Vista provides some very important advances from Microsoft's perspective and for the industry's point of view on building a more stable, more reliable, more secure operating platform, but people still need the efficacy that comes with the products that Symantec and others in the industry build, and so we should not be confused by the marketing rhetoric with what Vista is. It's a hopefully much better product than XP or any of its predecessors, but it's not a security solution.
Thompson is right that Vista is not a security solution, but it is an improvement over XP on the security front. For obvious reasons, he is not a big fan of Microsoft's security products. Microsoft shipping security products, such anti-virus software, is like company being its own auditor, Thompson recently said.
He believes that Microsoft has a conflict of interest, and that a company who makes the underlying operating system platform shouldn't be the one securing it--especially with products and services that compete with those from Symantec and its competitors. It's not going to be a winning argument. The conflict of interest logic is lost on most businesses and users, who just want to be more protected or simply don't want to have to deal with nuances of security software. Symantec will have to win by creating better security solutions than Microsoft, and that battle just got tougher. At least Symantec and its competitors can be assured that the need for their products and services won't go away any time soon, if ever.