Security

Details of Microsoft antivirus software leak out

French executive of software giant reveals some tidbits about company's planned entry into antivirus market.

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By Matt Hines and Christophe Guillemin
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

An executive of Microsoft in France divulged on Wednesday some of the software maker's plans for its highly anticipated entry into the antivirus software market.

A standalone antivirus product will be built from tools the company inherited through its 2003 and Pelican Software, according to a report published in CNET News.com's sister publication, , citing the technical head of Microsoft's security project in that country, Nicolas Mirail.

Microsoft representatives in the United States refused to comment on functional elements or a for the antivirus package.

However, Mirail said the Microsoft antivirus software will utilize two different means of detecting , the first of which will reference a regularly updated list of known viruses to check for potential infections. The second antivirus tool will analyze computer systems to assess whether they have been hit by a virus in the past and attempt to give end users an idea of how for future problems.

The executive indicated that the antivirus package will not come with firewall security software but said a firewall would be built into the company's Windows XP operating system when Microsoft delivers its . Mirail said the product would work with both Windows XP and the Longhorn release of Windows.

Microsoft representatives denied that Mirail's comments released previously unknown details, but the company has offered little information publicly about its antivirus plans. Microsoft has been rumored to be seeking a high-profile acquisition in that arena, and security specialist Network Associates was said to be . Earlier this month, another European security executive at Microsoft said the company's antivirus plans , including the integration of the products it has amassed via acquisition.

When Microsoft purchased GeCad, which is based in Bucharest, Romania, it positioned the acquisition as the next step in its , a move aimed at securing what Microsoft estimates are the nearly two-thirds of Windows users who don't have up-to-date antivirus software on their computers. The company said at that time that it might launch a paid-subscription service for Windows users.

The latest virus to on the Internet was MyDoom.M, a new variant of the prolific worm, which came to life Monday and quickly snarled Google and other search sites. Though the latest version of MyDoom did not target Microsoft products specifically, as many other viruses have, it hosted an ancillary, or "backdoor," infection programmed to on the software maker's Web site.

Christophe Guillemin of reported from Paris.

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