Microsoft to Squash Malware with 'A1'

Microsoft's upcoming antivirus/anti-spyware subscription service, dubbed "A1" is going beta. Microsoft Watch is reporting that even while Redmond has remained tight-lipped, it has silently begun to inform partners of its plans for the service. A1 will "secure the perimeter" around Windows, making flaws in its design less significant than in the past.

The news about A1 comes as the first indicator of what form the software giant's much anticipated antivirus solution will take following its acquisition of GeCAD in the summer of 2003. What's more, Microsoft also purchased Giant Company Software last month to obtain anti-spyware technology, and common sense dictates that the software should also turn up in the service.

Windows enthusiast site Neowin.net has claimed that Microsoft's rendition of Giant's technology is code-named "Atlanta," and has produced screenshots that suggest that Microsoft is also developing the software as a standalone application that may be available as a free download. Microsoft Watch has also hinted that some components of both services may one day be baked into Windows.

It is unclear how much A1 will borrow from the lessons learned during Microsoft's shelved PC Satisfaction trial where it bundled third party antivirus firewall solutions, as well as back up and PC health monitoring services into a single interface. PC health monitoring has since been incorporated into Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Microsoft's MSN business unit is gearing up to offer a hosted back up and restore subscription.

Microsoft is not alone in its quest to stamp out worms, viruses and other Windows-related exploits. Like Microsoft, rival America Online is not a security vendor, but has introduced AOL 9.0 Security Edition to protect its customers against malware after examining the scope of the problem. However there is one key difference: AOL's software licenses technology from McAfee.

While Microsoft has done the same in the past with the PC Satisfaction Trial, it is now in the security business itself. Vendors did not return requests for comment on what could be perceived as an intrusion onto their turf, but there are rumblings of anxiety throughout Internet newsgroups that signal a growing unease. BetaNews has contributing evidence detailing the sector's concerns in a previous report where remarks came directly from a leading security vendor.

Further details are not available at this time.

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