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The anti-spyware market that never existed is officially dead

If anyone needed evidence that the standalone anti-spyware market is official dead (if it ever existed), along comes Webroot Software with Exhibit A, B and C.

If anyone needed evidence that the standalone anti-spyware market is official dead (if it ever existed), along comes Webroot Software with Exhibit A, B and C:

The anti-spyware market that never existed is officially dead

After raising a mind-boggling $108 million in venture capital funding to position Spy Sweeper as the ultimate anti-spyware product, Webroot has officially change the name of its flagship product to downplay the anti-spyware component under the guise of "providing a complete anti-malware solution."

Instead of Webroot Spy Sweeper with AntiVirus, the product is now called Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware & Firewall. Under an existing arrangement, Sophos is providing the anti-virus capabilities.

[ SEE: Symantec puts price tag on anti-botnet tool ]

This is the ultimate confirmation, in my mind, that the fake anti-spyware market (that never really existed) is now dead. I never quite understood the difference between a spyware threat and a virus threat. For the most part, this was a definitions game played to perfection by both sides -- the noxious adware vendors who wanted to be viewed as legitimate; and the slick anti-malware vendors who were only too happy to play along to sell a brand new product.

Earlier this year, I tested standalone anti-spyware applications for a PC World feature and found it truly amazing that consumers were falling for the hustle of paying several times to get full anti-malware protection.

Typically, desktop security vendors sell an anti-spyware tool and charge an extra $10 to add signatures for virus protection. Then there's Symantec, a company that has slapped a price tag on an anti-botnet utility.

In my mind, they're all the same -- bots, Trojans, spyware, viruses -- and computer users shouldn't be paying extra because security companies get to play the definitions game.