Updated at 1:15 p.m. PST Wednesday with comment from Symantec and at 11:45 a.m. PST Thursday with comments from McAfee and Kaspersky.
For some security companies, Microsoft's decision to offer a free anti-malware product, code-named Morro, won't result in a dramatic change in how they do business.
Morro will be available in the second half of 2009 and will protect against viruses, spyware, rootkits, and Trojans, according to Microsoft.
"With OneCare's market share of less than 2 percent, we understand Microsoft's decision to shift attention to their core business," Joris Evers, director of worldwide public relations for McAfee, said in an e-mail.
As for confronting a free malware solution from a software giant, Evers said, "With more malware attacks than ever before, we believe our advanced technology, commitment to consumer education, superior protection, dedicated focus on security, and our 20-plus years in this business will provide consumers the confidence to choose McAfee as their trusted adviser and expert in security."
Justin Priestley, senior vice president of consumer sales at Kaspersky Lab's Americas division, also seemed not that concerned at the prospect of facing a free security solution from Microsoft.
"Having entered the U.S. consumer market at the same time as Microsoft, we initially viewed them as a formidable player. They've continued to hold a very low market share in the consumer market, and we don't expect the exit of OneCare to change the playing field drastically," Priestley said. "With the increasing threat malware and Web attacks pose, security is as important as ever, and we believe people will continue to choose antimalware software based on the quality of protection and will choose the highest-level product available."
Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Symantec's consumer business, characterized the announcement as a "capitulation by Microsoft, and a reinforcement of the notion that it's simply not in Microsoft's DNA to provide high-quality, frequently updated security protection."