BOSTON Microsoft Corp's upcoming security software is not designed to take sales from Symantec Corp and McAfee Inc as it is a stripped-down, free product that focuses purely on anti-virus protection, a Microsoft executive said.
Shares of Symantec and McAfee tumbled on Wednesday on concerns that Microsoft's new anti-malware program, to be launched in the second half of 2009, would compete with their products.
Malware, a term derived from the words malicious and software, is designed by hackers to attack personal computers.
Microsoft said on Tuesday it planned to introduce the free security software after discontinuing a $50 security suite that competes with products from Symantec and McAfee, the world's two biggest makers of security software.
"This is really focused on the 50 to 60 percent (of PC users) who don't have, or won't pay for, anti-virus protection, anti-malware protection," Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for Microsoft's Online Services and Windows Division, told Reuters in an interview.
Microsoft's new product, code-named Morro after Brazil's Morro de Sao Paolo beach, only includes anti-malware software, whereas security suites from Symantec and McAfee include encryption, firewalls, password protection, parental controls and data backup programs.
Although Morro will be offered around the world, one focus will be on emerging markets such as Brazil where a large number of consumers cannot afford to buy anti-virus suites, Barzdukas said.
Shares of Symantec fell 9.44 percent to $11.23, McAfee dropped 6.62 percent to $26.68, and Microsoft was down 6 percent at $18.45
(Reporting by Jim Finkle, editing by Richard Chang)