Anti-virus vendor McAfee Inc. on Wednesday clinched a deal with PC maker Gateway Inc. to preinstall its Internet Security Suite on all Gateway and eMachines computers.
The exclusive two-year agreement gives the Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee a key outlet to sell its anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-phishing software and a key ally to help stave off expected competition from Microsoft Corp.
As part of the deal, the McAfee Internet Security Suite will be pre-loaded on all PCs sold by Gateway worldwide, starting the end of this year.
The preinstall is set to offer consumers a free 90-day complimentary subscription to PC protection suite. The idea is to lure users into using the service ahead of purchasing annual subscriptions.
In addition, McAfee will be the exclusive security provider for Gateway's "Configure to Order" service for 15 month, 24 month or 36 month licenses to the McAfee Internet Security Suite.
This allows consumers who order a PC directly from Gateway to purchase McAfee Internet Security Suite and have the software already preinstalled on the PC.
Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.
For McAfee, the timing of the deal is crucial, coming just ahead of Microsoft's big push into the anti-virus, anti-spyware and PC protection markets.
Microsoft is currently testing Windows OneCare, a PC care product that will be sold as a subscription service and analysts expect the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant to use price cuts to aggressively challenge established anti-virus vendors.
Symantec Corp., makers of the Norton security suite, and Trend Micro Inc., are also gearing up for Microsoft's entrance by tweaking product lines and slashing prices.
Microsoft has already indicated it plans to bake anti-spyware into Windows Vista and there is speculation that some form of Microsoft's anti-virus protection will eventually be fitted into the operating system.
The Windows OneCare application was refreshed this week to add several new features, including the ability to automatically scan files received from MSN Messenger.
Other new features include the ability to back-up computer data to external hard-drives; the ability to right-click a file or folder to perform an on- demand virus scan and unspecified improvements to the Windows OneCare Help Center.
Microsoft has also added automated assistance for uninstalling products that conflict with Windows OneCare and integration with Microsoft Update.
Windows OneCare, formerly code-named A1, is a bundled service for virus scanning, firewall protection, data back-up and PC cleanup tools. The plan is to add anti-spyware protection in future updates.
It will be shipped as a fee-based, subscription service.