Would you pay Microsoft to protect Windows?

Microsoft last week announced it would launch a set of anti-virus and anti-spyware products but will enterprises trust the software giant to protect its own products and more importantly, will they pay for the privilege?Michael Warrilow, director of Sydney-based analyst firm Hydrasight, believes Microsoft is in a 'catch 22' situation because enterprises will not want to pay for products that are designed to protect them from failings in Microsoft's other products.

Microsoft last week announced it would launch a set of anti-virus and anti-spyware products but will enterprises trust the software giant to protect its own products and more importantly, will they pay for the privilege?

Michael Warrilow, director of Sydney-based analyst firm Hydrasight, believes Microsoft is in a 'catch 22' situation because enterprises will not want to pay for products that are designed to protect them from failings in Microsoft's other products.

"They talk about trustworthy computing but if you can trust them, should you need to have these new [security] products anyway? I don't think they are ready to trust Microsoft in this space yet. They are going to continue to trust companies like Symantec and McAfee," said Warillow.

James Turner, security analyst at Frost & Sullivan Australia, said that companies do not really want to pay for anything, but he believes Microsoft will be able to provide a compelling financial argument for using its own anti-virus and anti-spyware solutions.

"No one really wants to pay for anything, but that's commercial reality: Microsoft isn't a charity. Not many organisations have the internal resources to replicate this style of service as cost effectively as Microsoft will be able to," said Turner.

Microsoft Australia's chief security advisor Peter Watson told ZDNet Australia  that buying security products -- such as anti-virus and anti-spyware -- are like adding optional extras to a car.

"Like cars, some components are now standard and others are offered as a value-add... Microsoft's recent announcements are on products that are proactively preventing existing -- and able to help mitigate -- future vulnerabilities," said Watson.

Watson argues that the new products are only a small part of Microsoft's overall security strategy, which also focuses on improving the general security of its non-security portfolio and educating its users.

"An ever increasing amount of security capability and functionality is delivered by Microsoft as standard... Microsoft is one of Australia's leading providers of security education... Microsoft delivers these services at no or little cost to consumers, education institutions, small enterprises, business, government, law enforcement and academia," said Watson.

However, Hydrasight's Warrilow believes that the whole argument is about trust and he does not believe Microsoft has yet demonstrated that customers can trust it with their security.

"This is definitely to do with trust... It will be interesting to see how enterprise customers play that. Does Microsoft think security is a growth market for them -- I don't think it will be," added Warrilow.