June 12, 2003, 8:59 AM — Users and resellers of RAV AntiVirus, popular especially on Linux platforms, are in limbo after Microsoft Corp. announced plans to buy the RAV technology from Romania's GeCAD Software Srl.
The RAV product line will be discontinued after Microsoft completes the acquisition of the technology, Microsoft said. GeCAD, which claims its products protect over 10 million users worldwide, will support current customers through the end of their contracts, Microsoft said.
The acquisition has observers questioning Microsoft's ultimate intentions and wondering what the Redmond, Washington, software maker wants with technology that powers leading virus scanning tools for e-mail servers on Linux platforms, rivals to Microsoft's Windows and Exchange products.
"I don't know why Microsoft bought a Linux company, GeCAD's Windows business is really small compared to their Linux business," said Andreas Marx, an antivirus software expert at the University of Magdeburg in Magdeburg, Germany.
Marx has just completed a test of GeCAD's antivirus software for Linux and concluded that GeCAD "is really the best antivirus solution for Linux."
GeCAD's RAV AntiVirus for Mail Servers supports a host of e-mail server products, including the free Sendmail, Qmail and Postfix, and is available for a variety of operating systems, including many flavors of Linux and BSD. Pricing per e-mail domain instead of per mailbox is another major draw for users, experts and users said.
GeCAD resellers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. interviewed by IDG News Service say the bulk of their RAV sales are sales of RAV Antivirus for e-mail servers on a Linux platform.
Marx sees the takeover as a big blow to Linux users especially. "There are alternatives, users can switch to other antivirus solutions, but it won't be very easy because RAV has many special features," he said. "There is room for a conspiracy theory here. It could be possible that Microsoft wants to stop the solution for Linux."
Microsoft is just interested in GeCAD's antivirus engine and its programmers, said Amy Carroll, group manager at Microsoft's Security Business Unit.
"We acquired the assets and the technology because of the quality of the technology and because the team is a good fit. It would be hard to find an antivirus vendor who did not have products on multiple platforms," she said.
Tucows Inc. in Toronto, famous for its "cow" review ratings of downloadable software, uses RAV AntiVirus to scan e-mail on a hosted e-mail service it launched earlier this year. The company runs CommuniGate Pro e-mail server software on Linux and found that RAV AntiVirus was its best choice.