In an announcement that could send reverberations throughout the antivirus software world, Microsoft said Tuesday that it was acquiring antivirus technology from a small Romanian company, GeCAD Software Srl of Bucharest, Romania.
In a statement, the Redmond, Wash., company said that it was acquiring the "intellectual property and technology assets" of GeCAD. Details of the purchase were not provided.
Calls to GeCAD were not answered.
GeCAD makes RAV Antivirus, a family of security products that includes antivirus, antispam, and content filtering technology for service providers, enterprises, and home users.
As part of the deal, GeCAD will retain its name and the rights to the RAV Antivirus product name. The company will continue operating a small consulting business and providing its customers with RAV Antivirus signature updates, in keeping with its contractual obligations, according to Mike Nash, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Security Business Unit.
However, GeCAD will cease development of the RAV product once the acquisition is complete, Nash said.
GeCAD's antivirus engineering staff will be joining Microsoft's Security Business Unit in Redmond, he said.
Microsoft will use the GeCAD technology to provide antivirus "solutions" for Microsoft products and services, Microsoft said.
GeCAD engineers will also help the company open the Windows platform for closer integration with other antivirus software vendors, the company said.
While Microsoft did not provide a timeline or pricing information for the "solutions" it will be developing, the company did say that GeCAD technology would be used to help keep Windows users up to date with virus signatures and to develop a new generation of antivirus tools for "evolving threat models."
The company said that the acquisition of GeCAD will help Microsoft and its partners mitigate the risks of viruses and malicious code.
"Our goal is to make sure we get as close to the [malicious code] problem and get a deeper understanding of it so that as the problem evolves, we can evolve our solutions to deal with it," Nash said.
Asked what kinds of solutions Microsoft would be developing, Nash declined to provide specifics but said that Microsoft would sell its antivirus technology separately from the Windows operating system.
Similar to other antivirus software vendors, Microsoft would also be offering a subscription service to obtain antivirus signature updates, he said.
The company did not yet have specific details about pricing and packaging for the technology, but Microsoft was interested in addressing all the markets currently served by the RAV technology -- from service providers down to the desktop, according to Nash.
"Our interest is where our customers need us to be. The [antivirus] engines are similar across all those products, as are the signatures," he said.
With its products and operating systems the frequent target of virus writers, Microsoft is devoting an increasing amount of attention to antivirus technology in recent months.