The move could set Microsoft in a pitched battle against Internet security vendors and potentially government antitrust regulators as the company prepares for the 2006 release of Windows Vista.
This second Community Technology Preview (CTP) for Vista does not include any actual antispyware code. However, reports indicate that there was visual evidence of a new built-in, security-center feature through which users will be able to manage settings for patches and other security options, including antispyware settings.
Microsoft cautioned that the Vista October CTP is just a preview and contains many features that still are under development, which means these features might or might not make it to the final release.
In the wake of company's recent announcement about readying antivirus software for desktops, Graham Cluley, an analyst at Sophos, warned that the company's moves represent a shot across the bow of those vendors who have a significant stake in the consumer-security market.
Microsoft's move into the security space could have industry rivals leveling charges of unfair competition. According to an eWeek report, Symantec already is gearing up for a fight by filing an informal complaint with European Union antitrust regulators regarding steps Microsoft has taken to enter the security space.
Still, said Cluley, companies probably will not want to rely on built-in protection for Windows Vista and instead will continue to purchase products that they know will provide them with the highest level of protection, responsiveness, and service against malicious threats.
However, with most consumers woefully unprepared for protecting their home machines from malicious attacks, the inclusion of a built-in antispyware product will be a good thing for them, said Cluley. He pointed out that, in contrast to businesses, home users weigh price more heavily than quality, responsiveness, and service when choosing security software.
Overall, said Cluley, the news that Microsoft will be bundling its antispyware product in Windows Vista is good news for home users, many of whom still do not recognize the threat spyware poses and do not realize they need protection.