Will users buy MS antivirus?

Given Microsoft's shaky record on software security, the news that it is to acquire antivirus technology is a welcome...

Given Microsoft's shaky record on software security, the news that it is to acquire antivirus technology is a welcome development. At least in theory.

The software, from GeCAD Software, a small Romanian supplier, includes antispam and content-filtering technology for service providers, enterprises and home users. Microsoft believes the acquisition will help it and its partners reduce the risks of viruses and malicious code.

The software giant will use the GeCAD technology to provide its own antivirus solutions for its products and services. GeCAD engineers will also help Microsoft open the Windows platform for closer integration with other anti-virus software companies.

Details of exactly what products Microsoft will be able to offer its customers are sketchy but the software giant could use its dominance of the desktop market to become a major player in the antivirus market. But battle-fatigued Microsoft customers, already struggling to keep up with a steady stream of software patches, will probably take more convincing.

With its products and operating systems the frequent target of virus writers, Microsoft is eager to improve its reputation for security. Its attempts so far, however, have had limited success - its high-profile Trustworthy Computing initiative has been dismissed as little more than window dressing by some critics - and users may choose to look elsewhere for security products.

Don't put euro plans on the back burner

After six years of careful analysis and economic tests, no one could accuse chancellor Gordon Brown of making any rash decisions over whether the UK should join the euro. But despite last week's decision to defer UK entry into the single currency, IT chiefs must not put euro conversion projects on hold.

IT departments could be excused for breathing a sigh of relief over the current limbo. After all, firms that do business in the euro zone have to invoice in euros, and many retailers have already tweaked their IT systems to accept euro notes and coins.

The British Retail Consortium says euro adoption will pose the largest IT retail project ever seen in UK, at a collective cost of up to £4bn. It also estimates that UK retailers will need at least two years lead time if the changeover is to go smoothly.

Companies should use the euro lull to start planning their IT conversion projects now.

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