Microsoft Corp’s inclusion of a rudimentary on-by-default personal firewall in Windows XP Service Pack 2 has had so far minimal impact on other vendors and may prove a boon in future, the CEOs of two such companies said this week.
Symantec Corp CEO John Thompson, discussing the company’s fiscal second quarter results, said Symantec’s own client security software could be an enormous benefactor of the existence of Windows Firewall.
As Microsoft puts more marketing energy and muscle behind SP2 and security we would expect to see upside there, Thompson said, in a conference call yesterday. As more awareness is generated we expect to be an enormous benefactor
It’s hard to imagine that Microsoft’s entry or some little deal they’re doing with someone else [referring to CA] will cause people who trust our brand and trust our products to turn their back on us, Thompson later said.
His comments echoed those made by two Check Point Software Technologies Inc executives on Monday, when that company announced its quarterly performance. Check Point owns Zone Labs, a personal firewall maker.
Check Point’s CEO Gil Shwed said: As far as I have seen from the amount of business we’re getting from the Zone web site the consumer business was fairly stable, before and after… better than what we expected six months ago.
There was concern earlier this year that the free bundling of Windows Firewall would cause sales problems for security vendors, as the bundling of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player has had on their respective competitors.
Neither Check Point nor Symantec break out their revenue by individual product, so it’s impossible to say in dollar terms what if any impact on sales the emergence of Windows Firewall has had.
It appears from our results that consumers have accepted the advice of Microsoft that even if they upgrade to Service Pack 2 they should still install a third-party security solution, Check Point president Jerry Ungerman said.
Ungerman said: SP2 increased the level of awareness among PC users that they do need a personal firewall, and that definitely helped our business. He added that Windows Firewall was a big disappointment that doesn’t work very well.
While Windows Firewall provides inbound connection and port blocking, the pure-play security vendors say they provide more protection, such as the ability to block outgoing connections from spyware and Trojans.
Microsoft’s web site recommends installing a third party firewall on pre-XP versions of Windows, but seems to make no such recommendation to XP users. The Security Center in SP2 does, however, support most major personal firewalls.
PC makers, which can earn bounties for preloading trial software, are also not relying on Microsoft for the security features of their new Windows PCs, choosing instead to bundle the equivalent components from third-party vendors such as Symantec.
Hewlett-Packard Co is reportedly replacing the Windows Security Center with Symantec’s Norton Security Center, and is preloading Norton Personal Firewall (which deactivates Windows Firewall) on consumer Pavilion and Presario computers.
And Dell Inc is reportedly set to offer a security bundle on new PCs next month comprising firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware software. The vendor or vendors providing the software have not been announced yet.