June 6, 2006 5:20 PM PDT

McAfee's 'Falcon' to come in four flavors

McAfee said on Tuesday that it plans to release four versions of its new "Falcon" security products, designed to rival Symantec and newcomer Microsoft.

The four editions will vary in the number of security features, giving consumers the option to buy a less comprehensive package. Offering various editions also allows McAfee to try to sell its customers a more expensive option at a premium price. Microsoft's OneCare and Symantec's Norton 360 are pitched as "one size fits all."

Marc Solomon, director of product management at McAfee, said in an interview that all four McAfee products would include the basic security features--antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall. Additionally, all editions include SiteAdvisor, which adds ratings to Web search results, and PC health tools for tasks such as hard-drive defragmentation, he said.

"Rather than try to force a one-size-fits-all service on all consumers, we have tailored four specific service packages for four different consumer profiles," Solomon said.

McAfee introduced Falcon last week. It is the code-name for the underlying, integrated technology the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is building its new products on, to compete with upcoming products from Symantec and the recently launched Windows Live OneCare bundle from Microsoft.

At the bottom of the new McAfee lineup is McAfee VirusScan Plus, which includes only the basic features. Next is McAfee PC Protection Plus, which adds features to let users back up data to a CD, DVD, external drive or a networked drive, Solomon said. This product is being pitched as McAfee's response to OneCare, he said.

McAfee Internet Security Suite includes all the features of the lower-end products and adds phishing and spam shields as well as parental controls, Solomon said. Furthermore, the suite includes a feature that warns people when personal data such as a credit card number is being transmitted to the Internet, for ID theft protection, he said.

At the top of the line is McAfee Total Protection, which has added wireless network security as its only distinguishing feature over the McAfee Internet Security Suite. "As we come out with new features, those would be included in Total Protection," Solomon said.

Like Microsoft and Symantec, McAfee is promoting its Falcon products as easy to use. They will be sold as a service, with the customer paying a recurring subscription price. Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare and Symantec's Norton 360 will be sold on the same basis, the companies have said.

Beta test versions of McAfee Total Protection and McAfee VirusScan Plus software are slated to be available this month, and the final product is scheduled for release later this summer, Solomon said. Pricing has yet to be announced.

See more CNET content tagged:
Checkpoint Systems Inc., McAfee Internet Security, McAfee Inc., Symantec Corp., defragmentation

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Security bloatware
I suppose it's inevitable that security would be the next facet of computing to fall victim to bloatware.

360, Falcon, OneCare; all of them will be enormous resource hogs, slowing PCs and increasing network overheads. This might be a price worth paying if these products lead to genuine improvements in security, but I'm not hopeful.

As a OneCare/Windows Defender beta tester, I was disappointed in the product's performance and its tendency to interefere with wifi connections.

Obviously, I haven't used 360 or Falcon yet, but if past Norton and McAfee 'all in one' security solutions are any guide, these will cause more problems than they solve.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
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