May 8, 2006 5:18 PM PDT

Symantec: Our security savvy will beat Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO--Symantec will fight off Microsoft's security software challenge by being better at coming up with new ideas, the company's CEO said Monday.

John Thompson vowed that it would put more resources into research and development over the coming the year, speaking to reporters at the Symantec's annual Vision conference here.

"Our strategy is to out-innovate Microsoft. We know more about security than they ever will," Thompson said.

Microsoft's development of security products for its upcoming Vista update to the Windows operating system prompted Symantec to be bullish about taking on the software giant.

"Competition with Microsoft is inevitable, given the way the tom-toms are beating at the moment," Thompson said.

Microsoft is developing Windows Live OneCare, a security service aimed at consumers that is scheduled for U.S. commercial release in June. It combines antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software with backup features and several tune-up tools for Windows PCs. Client Protection, Microsoft's enterprise product, has no release date as yet and is in limited beta testing.

It's not the first time that Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec has thrown down the gauntlet to Microsoft. Last month, Thompson branded the software giant a "Johnny-come-lately" into the security market. At the same time, he underlined that Symantec was setting its horizons to be a provider of all-around system protection, as opposed to a seller of antivirus software and other defense tools--a message Thompson also stressed at the Vision event.

In his remarks, Thompson also drew attention to Microsoft's security record. It has come under criticism in the past for the flaws in its software.

"We will make sure we utilise the strength of our global brands. Symantec is synonymous with security. Microsoft is synonymous with a lot of things, but security is not one of them," he said.

He added that Symantec would spend more on marketing, and added that it was not a "foregone conclusion" the Microsoft would "win" in the security marketplace. The company will also put resources into protecting customers with Microsoft systems.

"Our belief is that the Windows environment needs to be protected like any other. Tightening the (Microsoft) stack will be an important investment in the coming year," Thompson said.

He hinted that Symantec would give details about its marketing plans during its March quarter earnings call, scheduled for Tuesday.

Andy Buss, an analyst at U.K.-based IT consultancy Canalys, predicted that Microsoft's planned security tools would have a fair impact on the consumer antivirus market but doubted whether businesses would adopt the products as readily.

"Enterprises tend to chose proven technologies, are more conservative and are prepared to pay for the service," he said.

Buss added that Microsoft doesn't have a track record of providing an integrated product lineup for the whole of the enterprise, and said there was a particular gap in its tools to manage and respond to virus outbreaks. "These are areas where Microsoft's competitors can make hay," he said.

Tom Espiner reported for London-based ZDNet UK.

See more CNET content tagged:
Symantec Corp., John Thompson, security, Microsoft Corp., vision


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Symantec might know how to build better security products, but MS knows how to create a better program UI and knows how to create software that doesnt bog down the system such as Symantec's Internet Security Suite.

I'm a consultant who has uninstalled Internet Security Suite from over 20 clients in the past two months - moving them all over to Windows One Care, and every single one of them has reported their computer working faster, better, and "magically" programs and features which never worked suddenly work.. Hmmmm....

Good luck Symantec. You might be winning now - just wait a year. Software designed like the way your software is designed doesnt stand a chance.
Posted by explorer5 (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec = Bloat
I also do IT consulting and I am constantly advising my clients to remove Norton Internet Security, Systemworks, etc.

The major complaint is that it is so bloated it quadruples the startup time of the computer, but even once it has started, literally everything runs slow unless you disable half the software.

The firewall also randomly decides to block access to secure (SSL) websites for no apparent reason. All other complaints I get are because the program just totally crashed at some point and not only does it not work, but you can't uninstall it and multiple error messages pop up everytime the computer starts.

Microsoft surely isn't the best company in the world, especially when it comes to security, but I firmly believe that not even MS is capable of such incompetence.

Norton products were the epitome of quality back when Peter Norton was the one running the show. I hope the fat check he received from Symantec was worth it; they've totally trashed the name Norton since they bought him out.
Posted by Take the Red Pill (46 comments )
Link Flag
Ha Ha You Must be Joking
"John Thompson vowed that it would put more resources into research and development over the coming year, speaking to reporters at Symantec's annual Vision conference here.
"Our strategy is to out-innovate Microsoft. We know more about security than they ever will," Thompson said."

What total BS. Mr Thompson why don't you concentrate on getting your software to just work. The last time I used any Symantec product was 2 years ago and that product, Norton AntiVirus was a total 100% stinking turd. Live Update kept breaking, your crappy software turned my Pentium 4 into a 386 tortoise, and your uninstall routines must have been written by the Anti-Christ. Before you foist anymore crap on the world, fix what you have, and in the meantime I will continue to recommend AVG to all who listen.
Posted by als (154 comments )
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Secure the user, not the computer
Viruses spread through ignorant users, not unsecure computers. There were even viruses designed to hit Symantec-protected machines, which for a home user tends to mean... you are ignorant. It doesn't matter who designs the OS, nor the AV, what matters is the person using the software.
Posted by PurePacket (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's amazing Symantec isn't dead
There software is bloated and slow as hell. Norton Anti-Virus adds a good 30 seconds to my start up time by it's self. McAfee, AVG, and Kaspersky all load very quickly compared to the harddrive crunching Symantec products make you go thru.

If you want to see annoying software install Norton System Works 2006. The default settings are not only a resource hog but it generates popups for every little thing it does. I use to like Symantec's products, but now I just can't stand them.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Out Innovating Microsoft
"Our strategy is to out-innovate Microsoft. We know more about security than they ever will," Thompson said.

Out innovating Microsoft is the easy part. Apple has been doing that since Day 1.

Convincing the clueless hoards that think Microsoft products are the best is something entirely different.

Symantec is definitely facing an uphill challenge.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Make it run 1st.
The problem with Symantec is their software bogs down a computer just as much as the spyware/adware and viruses it is trying to defend against, especially at startup. No amount of innovation is going to make up for the fact that the apps are slower and more bloated then Microsoft's. My advice to them would be to innovate into a more diverse company.
Posted by Akiba (220 comments )
Link Flag
Out innovating only works in a levelled playing field, where all players are able to compete properly.

Here, this is not the case. With the monopoly of MS, their anti-competitive bahviour, products are not evaluated on merits alone.

People are complaining about the bloat of Symantec. I will not claim the opposite (as I also have first-hand experience), but Symantec is again in the disadvantage, because they cannot access and interact with the OS the way MS can, simply because MS does not provide enough info to hook into the OS properly.

Symantec and the others are doomed. The only platform where they can have a market is being taken over by the creator of that platform, and on the other platforms (OS X and Linux) have no real business value without FUD-ding it up.

Another fine example on how MS destroys the computer business...
Posted by Steven N (487 comments )
Link Flag
You're kidding, right Symantec?
You haven't even been able to keep your own programs from being buggy! In this area you and Microsoft are on par...but, believe it or not...they have better SUPPORT than you so!!!

To remove one of your 'buggy' programs takes a REFORMAT.
Posted by sgt1035 (27 comments )
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MS and security should never be used in the same sentence
I find OneCare about the most annoying program I have ever used in this area. I pop up messages all the time for me. When I tell it to allow something in the future it continues to nag me over and over regardless. To get some programs to function I have to actually deactivate it even though I have told it to always let the program work.

If you deactivate the firewall through OneCare settings, you cannot turn it back on through the actual firewall settings in control panel or the security center. You have to turn it back on through OneCare, which tells me they can't even manage to integrate the program into their own operating system properly. Not to mention MS has a long proven record on unreliable security in everything they make for windows
Posted by dheadley (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec is a joke
Symantec has the wool pulled over consumers' eyes. If Norton offerings were held up to the same expectations and quality benchmarks typically reserved for "other" types of software, Symantec would have been put out of business a long time ago. Customers deserve better.

Microsoft is doing the right thing. They see an unmet consumer need (the need for high-quality system security offerings), and are moving to meet that need. Symantec has a system security solution, but it is of very poor quality. It is a shame that a company like symantec is allowed to stay in business... Shame on them and the way they treat their customers :(
Posted by The Harper (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec beats M$?
Let's see. Symantec products are bloated, slow, difficult to uninstall (without rooting around the Registry), buggy and underdeveloped.

They sound EXACTLY like M$ products to me.
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS has the advantage....
... MS creates the security errors, Symantex is in a follow up
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec Won't Support Windows XP 64-bit
Symantec won't even support Windows XP 64-bit Edition, so they have lost my business. I switched to Zone Alarm Security Suite for XP 32-bit and will use the Microsoft solution when Vista arrives...
Posted by Ruteger (290 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec lost their chance... sell the company a couple years ago while the going was good. There was corporate demand by the o/s makers and ISP's to buy a security provisioner and SYMC snubbed them all. So, not only does their software stink, but the firm is poorly managed as well. They are yesterday's papers and MSFT (for one) is merely burying them even deeper in their self-made grave.
Posted by i_made_this (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec = No Brand Loyalty
An advantage for Microsoft, is that even current Symantec customers don't like them very much.

Heck, it took a formal complaint to the State Attorney General to get them to honor my last rebate.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Symantec subscription fraudware
I pay for my software. But after buying three copies of Symantec's Systemworks, they all expired after only a few months (60-90 days). Then they had the nerve to have the software stop updating and demand I pay a subscription fee! Now way, I don't buy software that time-bombs in a few days.

I don't like Microsoft, but Symantec is worse.
Posted by danxy (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Great news
I think thats happen because you did not register your product, otherwise it should be fine like mine (1 year update). 90 days was trial period. Usually, like in my country, when buying new computer, the company preinstall the antivirus trial version and you need to buy it (register) to activate it.
Back to the topics, I was also hate microsoft and symantec product (those days) but I think the product should not be blame totally. Users need to be more responsible on their surfing habit.
MS and Symantec are improving their products, and thats is a good news. This two are compliment to each other. My computer have
(in XP home) windows defender beta 2 and norton antivirus 2006 which both identify spyware online (pro-active security measure).
Posted by xraze (2 comments )
Link Flag
Posted by stevenandsue (12 comments )
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