Bring On the Security Price Wars

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2006-06-21 Print this article Print

Opinion: The cost of security has marched steadily uphill for years. We should celebrate Microsoft for pricing its products aggressively, not try to protect the established market leaders.

The move to "security as a service" may be largely a conspiracy to increase prices, but maybe it doesn't have to end up that way.

Up top here I should concede that I made a careless error in a recent column by forgetting the fact that Microsoft's OneCare includes a license to protect up to three computers, whereas the company's competitors typically make you get licenses for one at a time.

I actually had heard this and readers were quick to point it out in the talkbacks to the column (thanks).

Is this a good thing? Alex Eckelberry of Sunbelt Software doesn't think so, and from his perspective—as a provider of security software—having Microsoft come in and start a price war is a bad thing. You, the reader, have a different perspective.

I remember Comdex in (I believe) 1991, when Microsoft announced the release of Access for $99, a fraction of the $495 that Borland and others were charging for their products. At a party at that show I overheard Philippe Kahn of Borland telling a reporter, "I don't know who benefits from a price war in software."

This from the man who made his fame on a $49 compiler, competing against (if I remember correctly from 1984) programs that cost in the $500 to $1500 range.

It was a good thing for customers that Microsoft set prices in a downward direction for business productivity software, and it can be a good thing for them if pricing pressures make security software more affordable. This is Microsoft's real goal.

For advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internet's Security IT Hub.

For months Microsoft has been spreading the message that its research shows—and it seems intuitively true to me—that a huge percentage of users have no anti-malware protection at all, or have an old program with an expired license.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Bring On the Security Price Wars

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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