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Publicly, Microsoft continues to be cagey about packaging and pricing plans for its anti-spyware and anti-virus solutions. But privately, Microsoft has begun informing partners of its plans for a security subscription service code-named “A1,” according to developers who requested anonymity.

Microsoft bought anti-virus vendor GeCAD in the summer of 2003, and anti-spyware maker Giant Company Software last month. As to how it plans to deliver these technologies, Microsoft has declined to give specifics. How, when and if it will repackage GeCAD’s technology remains uncertain. Ditto for Giant’s—although according to the Windows enthusiast site Neowin, Microsoft is expected to field its first anti-spyware beta based on Giant’s technology this week. Neowin said the anti-spyware beta is code-named “Atlanta.”

Microsoft officials have said the company is planning to make some form of its anti-spyware product available as a free tool. But that isn’t the ultimate plan, partner sources said.

Microsoft is currently expecting to field its A1 anti-spyware/anti-virus bundle in the form of a renewable subscription service, the same way a number of other security vendors do, sources said. The service will allow users to keep current on the code needed to combat ever-changing viruses, worms, spybots and the like.

Some elements of A1 are likely to be built directly into future versions of Windows, according to partners. Specifically, some of the security management functionality, such as the security health-validation technology that Microsoft officials discussed last year, would likely be bundled into Windows itself, partners said.

Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Readies ‘A1’ Security Subscription Service

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