September 28, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

European rivals turn wary eye on Microsoft

European security software makers are closely, but quietly, watching as Microsoft enters their turf.

Companies such as F-Secure, Panda Software and Sophos are taking a low-key approach, unlike their U.S. counterparts. Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec, in particular, has been vocal in its opposition to Microsoft, even sending executives to Europe to talk to reporters about how it fears the software giant will undercut security rivals with Windows Vista.

That doesn't mean, however, that the Europeans don't share the concerns that have been voiced by Symantec, McAfee and others.

"We should regard Microsoft's entry into this space as a threat," said Josu Franco, director of corporate development at Panda Software in Bilbao, Spain. "Microsoft is trying to leverage its monopoly in the desktop to compete in the antivirus space, and we should call that abuse."

Europe is a key battleground for Microsoft as it gets ready to ship Vista, the successor to Windows XP that is slated to be broadly available in January. The European Commission has already warned Microsoft to stick to its competition rules--in particular, those that prohibit abuse of a dominant market position. Microsoft continues to seek out what's permissible in Vista.

Europe has many small companies that sell antivirus and other security products. Some are concerned that they face the same fate as Netscape, the venerable browser company that saw its business evaporate after Microsoft added Internet Explorer to Windows.

"All of them are concerned, and should be," said Thomas Raschke, a Hellerup, Denmark-based analyst at Forrester Research. "The security market, and particularly the most mature areas like antivirus and firewalls, is maturing and consolidating rapidly. Many of the companies will either have to join forces or disappear."

The Netscape effect
While security software and Web browsers are obviously different, Microsoft's intentions are the same and hold an equal risk for security, Franco said.

"I don't think that anybody would say that having Internet Explorer on over 90 percent of desktops has been good for consumers in terms of innovation, user choice and especially in security. We all know that this monoculture in browsers has been bad," Franco said.

But Microsoft maintains that it can't protect Windows on its own and that other security companies are important.

"We don't believe that Microsoft can solve this problem by itself, and we need the industry's support in this effort," said Adrien Robinson, a business development manager at Microsoft. "The more that we can do with partners, the better for our customers."

"We don't believe that Microsoft can solve this problem by itself, and we need the industry's support."
--Adrien Robinson, business development manager, Microsoft

Security software and features have emerged as the hottest topic among a number of concerns with Vista, which will come with added security technology. At the same time, Microsoft is pushing into the security space with a new product for consumers, Windows Live OneCare, and is working on protective business products under the Forefront brand.

"As long as Microsoft allows equal access to the operating system, we can differentiate," said Steve Munford, CEO of Sophos, a security company in Abingdon, England. "We have to make sure that we have a broader and more comprehensive strategy than Microsoft."

Symantec, which leads the worldwide antivirus software market, has been loudest in raising the alarm over Vista and Microsoft's entry into the security arena. CEO John Thompson earlier this year warned of a future where all security applications are provided by Microsoft.

"The concerns from the U.S. companies are real," said Risto Siilasmaa, chief executive officer at F-Secure, based in Helsinki, Finland.

Pricing concerns
Predatory pricing is of particular concern, said Siilasmaa. "If Microsoft starts to offer their solutions at significantly reduced price levels to gain market share, and then plans to raise prices again after a few years, that obviously is a business issue all the companies have to tackle," he said.

Microsoft could change the game on pricing, Munford agreed. "You always think about predatory pricing, but I have not seen any evidence of it," he said. Siilasmaa also said he hasn't yet seen any signs that the software giant will sell its products at artificially low prices in order to harm rivals.

In the short term, Microsoft's entry into the security industry might mean lower prices, but that isn't necessarily good for software buyers, Franco said. "We would think that Microsoft tactics to compete in this space will ultimately hurt consumers," he said.

The software giant has introduced its Windows Live OneCare in the U.S., but the consumer security product is not yet available in Europe.

CONTINUED: Microsoft's advantage…
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19 comments

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Microsoft knows better than than us
Thanks, Big Brother.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Because they have real democracy in EU
The reason that European commission is able to impose real sanctions on Microsoft and make it pay those sanctions is because they have real
democracy in Europe. It is because the European governments 1st work for the benefit of their citizens and then Big corporations/media, whereas in US the government 1st works for the benefit of Big (wall street backed) corporation and at the distant 2nd place for it's citizens.

To see this point, consider the fact the people in USA still don't even have Universal Health care!
No European government would last 6 months in power if it was omitting to provide its citizen
with such a basic service. You have to go to real pathetically poor countries, such as Angola, Gahana, Bangeladesh, etc. to find other examples of countries that do not provide universal health care to their citizens. To put things into perspective of how un-democratic this is: more Americans die (every few days) from lack of health care than died in Sep/11/2001!
Now I can give you another 1000 examples of how un-democratic the US is compared to European
countries, but the example of lack of Universal Health care is all the room I have here.

The question is then, how is it possible that the US is so un-democratic? How do the powers to be in US get away with this lack of democracy?
How come there are not demonstrations in US streets to replace their un-democratic government
with a democratic one, as there are all the time in European countries? The answer is that the US media is controlled by a handful of people, who have "brain washed" the people into gullibility and not knowing what is the truth anymore.
And the US media is not just WallStreet Journal, CNN, CBS, etc.but it is also Hollywood,
Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc., it is this oligopoly that wants to control all "eye balls" worldwide.


So EU indeed needs to take the actions that it has taken against Microsoft and in fact
take further actions to protect it's economy/culture from being controlled by US media oligopoly. Less EU wants to end up being as un-democratic and as fundamentally poor as US and it's citizens are. Again keep in mind that the US is so pathetically poor & undemocratic that it's citizens do not get Universal Health care, in fact more than 45 Million have NO health care at all, and more die of lack of health care (every few days) than were killed during 9/11 but when you turn on US media, from CNN to Yahoo to Google (News) all you read about is "Killing", "Terrorist", "9/11" and etc. having
to do with War & Killing, which is a clear attempt at brain washing. Now, does Europe or for that matter rest of the free world wants to have its information "eye balls"
limited to this country which is and will be the case if we allow the US media monopoly to continue
and lets not be mistaken that a key part of this monopoly is Microsoft, Yahoo & Google.
Posted by free_people (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU too is helping corporates
You brought up an interesting point. But think about this....

Did the citizens of EU protest against Microsoft for including WMP and other software in their OS? Were there any protest march on streets of EU?? NO... because people don't care and it hardly makes any difference to people.

So yes, it's the corporates for which EU is fighting Microsoft for, not the citizens. Citizens won't benefit from this decision unless EU distributes the fine collected from MS among them. The worst part is that some of the corporates EU is fighting for are actually US based.
Posted by cary1 (924 comments )
Link Flag
Ever try electing a bureaucrat...
...when this happens, then you've got "true" democracy.

I know in the U.S. you can't vote out the regulator directly - you have vote for the Presdient, hope his/her party wins; hope he/she changes the guard; hope he/she can, by changing the guard, change the career bureaucrats. That's how administrtative democracy works stateside.

I didn't know the process was different in the EU - more direct. How cool. I gather Europeans can vote those that they like out. If that's so, then maybe it is better. Are you running, then?

I think you're focusiong on the ends that you like. Wait until the next Big Brother bureaucrat moves in and does something you really dislike - like mandate only proprietary software in government procurements. Then you'll be crying a different story.
Posted by mwendy (64 comments )
Link Flag
same old post
I've seen that comment word for word a number of times. Quit with the copy and paste spam and respond to the article directly if you must.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Completely Off-Topic
This has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. The EC is a regulatory board. The people of Europe are not voting on the outcome.

Furthermore, a free health care system is not a requirement for a country to be democratic. Americans realize that they would have to pay absurd tax hikes to pay for a "free" healthy care system. If a majority of Americans really wanted a free health care system, they would elect an official who agreed with them. They could also put it on this thing called a "referendum" where the people can directly vote for policy issues. Crazy huh?
Posted by HecticDialectics (38 comments )
Link Flag
There's NO Security Monopoly!
"Microsoft is trying to leverage its monopoly in the desktop to compete in the antivirus space, and we should call that abuse."

That is so absurd it's hard to believe anyone outside the anti-virus business is really buying this crap! This isn't Microsoft tagging WMP into all of their software to kill a business unrelated to the O/S. (Even that is questionable, but point at issue is far more broad than this case.) Microsoft should legally be able to do whatever they want to secure -their- operating system! These damn AV people are such a joke. They only have their jobs because Microsoft wasn't able to secure their software in the past. Now, Microsoft is working on making their software secure and all the anti-virus people are mad. Why don't they go complain about Apple not working more errors into their O/S code?

What next? Are graphics designers going to go run crying to the EC because Microsoft might make a cool background picture?
Posted by HecticDialectics (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They have to fight
I agree with what you have said. There is absolutely not a monopoly in the security industry and there won't be unless these a-v companies hand off their business to Microsoft. These companies need not worry so mcuh about losign business as about keeping business. Instead of deliberating over the issue of monopolization, they need to consider what they can do to show consumers that their products are better and still very necessary. Essential Security Software produces an e-mail encryption program that works as an add on to Outlook and they have had to share the need for their product as well. www.essentialsecurity.com
Posted by bayny (12 comments )
Link Flag
"ISO STANDARDS" Here, There and Everywhere, Anyone!
That the EU operators of the ill-fated "Concorde" should leave it to "chance" for the safety of its passengers is like asking Microsoft to continue to rely on other OEMs to protect its Operating System while it continues to take the "heat" for producing "insecure" software products; well, just as it is in the airline industries where international standards have to be addressed; perhaps, the time has come when OEMs like Microsoft have got to produce OSes that meet certain international standards with regards to security. But, the bigger question is - why so much fuss over VISTA's "Security Plans" by Microsoft when the "WWW" is the OS as it is now known to be? Aren't there other "GOOGLE OSes" that can do the same jobs as VISTAS!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
European Universal Health Care - not quite.
I can't speak to all of Europe, but my mother-in-law Germany is now paralyzed on her right side from a stroke because she could not get proper diagnosis and treatment in Bremen. Germany has both public health and private health care (for the rich). If you have public health care the Drs. will ignore you with complete preference to private patients. My m-n-l's symptoms were classic and were very treatable if she had been given basic blood thinner therapy in the first few hours and days of the symptoms before a complete blockage took place. Instead it took almost two weeks to get her in a hospital and then it was too late. She had tried three hospitals and the one she finally ended up in didn't even have an active stroke unit. If this is an example of European democracies universal health care - thanks, but no thanks we already have a health care system at least that good. By the way you may remember that German Drs. were on strike this spring for higher salaries. What we need in the US is far more Drs./medical competition, a public with better health/medical educsations, and less influence in the medical industry and Congress by pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Our government represents what a democracy looks like when you have an apathetic and an ignorant public who doesn't take a proactive role in actively its electoral and voting processes. The Bush administration is the culmination of our electoral/voting decadence. This adminstration shows just how apathetic the American citizens have become and what levels of deceit, conflicts of interest and incompetence it will tolerate from its leadership - rather than have to take action to correct the system that put them there. How can we argue that we don't have what we deserve?
Posted by masonx (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
EU is not a Utopia, but it is far more Democratic than USA
No one said that the Universal health care offered by all European countries to their citizens is Utopia and it will keep you alive for ever!
But the fact is that they have Universal health care in all European countries, whereas at least 45Mill Americans have NO health care and as many of them our dying every 2 to 3 days from this lack of health care than were killed from
9/11! Now our government goes and spends $700Bill and counting to fight the so called "War on Terror" because 9/11 killed about 3000 Americans whereas again that many Americans die every 2 to 3 days from having NO health care.

And using the example of your mother in law, had she been in USA not would she have gotten ill & died but she would have also racked up $100,000 in bills too which would have wiped her savings/states. That is you can go to any
hospital in Germany or France, etc. and can have a brain surgery done and it will cost you about $50, whereas same thing in US if you dont have health
insurance will cost you $500,000.00 - unless of course you are in the US congress or Military, then you get same treatment/cost as the European
citizen get from their health care system.

And all this is possible because of the wall street backed media in USA controls
what people think, and lets not forget this media machinery is not just Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox, etc. but it is also Microsoft, Google & Yahoo. So EU is doing the right thing finally waking up to the threat that the US media
machinery poses to the real Democracy & resulting Quality of life that they have in Europe. Another way you can see all this is by the fact that the US $ keeps falling against Euro. Because once someone sees Europe for a few weeks,
then they realize what a piece of crap US has become, and it has become so not because US is fundamentally worst than Europe, but because we have no real Democracy here in US since the Big Media controls what people think.
Do we want the same for in Europe? If you say No, then high time to understand and fight the threat that US Big Media sources such as Microsoft, Google & Yahoo present.

But you may say, "hey, we need Operating System and Search engine...., what are we to do if we boycott Microsoft, Google & Yahoo??"
For OS, switch to open source OS such as Linux Ubuntu.
For search engine switch to Open source search engine such as Anoox.
Posted by free_people (66 comments )
Link Flag
When esseential facilities doctrine fails - apply MSoft animus doctrine
What we're seeing is the attempted application of (largely discredited, very narrowly applied) essential facilities doctrine to Microsoft's business practices. Only, regulators can't adequately construct this theory because, well, Microsoft ain't an essential facility (think you'd find a statement to that effect in any publicly-traded OSS company's SEC, 10-K filing? Not! If you did, sell that stock short!!!).

So, what we're seeing as a proxy instead is application of the new Microsoft animus doctrine, something that's just shy of the magic words (shhh...essential facility doctrine).

This doctrine is exceedingly narrowly applied - to a whole conmpany and all of its products, now and in perpetuity.

By those that are shedding tears over this faux-situation, there is nothing that a market-leader like Microsoft could propduce that would not be shackled by regulators.

Certainly, that looks good in the short run to some competitors, but bad in the long haul for consumers.
Posted by mwendy (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"ISO STANDARDS"......
... So; in essence, as far as safety and security issues are concerned - companies like AIRBUS, Boeing, GM, Toyota, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba (with Seat Belts, Air Bags, Batteries - the ones that are catching afire...) should leave these safety and security issues for others to be concerned with. Then, which company other than Microsoft or the OEMs for that matter should shoulder/bear the responsibilities for the integrated security features of the products they manufacture! The travelling public the world over/90% market share will fly "AIR" EU Commission, "Air" F-Secure, "Air" Panda Software and "Air" Sophos if they feel justified in doing so at WARP SPEED!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Norton
Of course Norton is upset. Their monopoly on the security industry is going to be challenged. And *gasp*, they may actually have to hire competent English speaking tech support folks in order to remain competitive.

-Markus
Posted by Markusx1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
EU is less democratic
That poster is spreading nonsense. In the U.S. a citizen can vote independently for important officials at national, state and local levels. In most of Europe you dont even get to vote for the President/Prime minster whatever party has parliment colludes to pick the leader. More important the individual governments are slowly losing thier power to the EU burecracy which isnt even directly elected by citizens!
Posted by techstuff99 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Europe Learns Quickly
Too bad the US doesn't catch on!!!

Recently, Symantec is doing their best to follow suite... but many are blastpheming Symantec when the real culprit is Microsoft!!!

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Europe
The U.S. is crap compared to Europe you say?

Have you ever LIVED in Europe? Have you ever even been to Europe? I have... and unfortunately I am still here.

While the U.S. has yet to figure out it's health care system I would never be envious of governments in the EU. You will never truely understand what freedom is until you've lived here.

How about a government that makes it ILLEGAL to sell merchandise after a certain time of day and on Sundays? How about a government that makes it ILLEGAL to wash your car in your drive way or Mow law from 1 - 3 p.m.. Or do your laundry in your OWN house after 8 p.m.. OR taxes people up the wazoo to allow non-citizens live in your country and get paid more with every child that they have.

Do you know how great America is? There is no uptopian society, and we have issues of our own, but don't think for a minute that Europe is better off.
Posted by lucy_international (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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