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Microsoft scoops up antivirus technology

Software giant spreads its wings into bug busting

In an announcement that could send reverberations throughout the antivirus software world, Microsoft confirmed yesterday that it is acquiring antivirus technology from small Romanian company GeCAD Software.

Microsoft said that it was acquiring the "intellectual property and technology assets" of GeCAD. Further details of the purchase were not provided.

GeCAD's website carries corroboration of the deal. "The opportunity to integrate GeCAD technology into Microsoft's future antivirus efforts is a big step not only for us but for the entire Romanian IT industry," said GeCAD president, Radu Georgescu.

GeCAD makes RAV Antivirus, a family of security products that includes antivirus, antispam and content filtering technology for service providers, enterprises and home users.

As part of the deal, GeCAD will retain its name and the rights to the RAV Antivirus product name. The company will continue operating a small consulting business and providing its customers with RAV Antivirus signature updates, in keeping with its contractual obligations, according to Microsoft.

But GeCAD will cease development of the RAV product once the acquisition is complete.

Microsoft will use GeCAD technology to provide antivirus "solutions" for its own products and services.

While Microsoft did not provide a timeline or pricing information for the solutions it will be developing, the company did say that GeCAD technology would help keep Windows users up to date with virus signatures and aid development of a new generation of antivirus tools for "evolving threat models".

Asked what kinds of solutions Microsoft would be developing, the company declined to provide specifics but said that Microsoft would sell its antivirus technology separately from the Windows operating system.

Similar to other antivirus software vendors, Microsoft would also be offering a subscription service to obtain antivirus signature updates, he said.

GeCAD's stripped-down antivirus technology may have been more interesting to Microsoft than more established standalone products such as Norton's or McAfee's, according to Gartner analyst John Pescatore.

"The [GeCAD] technology had so little else wrapped around it, and Microsoft didn't want to deal with absorbing a sales force and channel — everything else you get with a bigger company," Pescatore said.

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