Vice-president of IDC's e-business infrastructure and Internet security software programme, Chris Christiansen, said at the CIBC World Markets' Enterprise and E-Business Software Conference, that Microsoft is poised for an onslaught into the security software market that could displace many of the sector's leading vendors.
Microsoft is increasing its share of the security software market by boosting sales of its security products, while taking sales away from security vendors by improving the security features of its non-security products, such as its operating systems and applications, Christiansen said.
"My warning is, anybody that is making considerable money off client-based software licences has a real challenge ahead of them, because in a lot of cases there's only going to be room for two or three Microsoft alternatives in these [security software] markets," he said.
But a drive by Microsoft to boost its products' security features could be good news for vendors willing to align with the company, Christiansen said.
"I think you're going to see a kinder, gentler Microsoft in terms of partnering, especially with security vendors," he said.
Overall spending on security software grew 18% from 2000 to 2001, according to IDC, and is likely to continue growing in the next five years. But the sector's growth will not be driven by government spending, Christiansen said.
The US government's post-11 September boost in security spending remains focused on physical security, such as "gates, guards, guns and dogs", according to Christiansen.
IDC sees no signs of increased government spending on IT security products until at least 2004, and the much-touted coming convergence of physical and IT security remains three to four years away, he said.