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Microsoft shakes up anti-virus landscape with big market share gains

According to OPSWAT’s latest quarterly report on AV market share, AVAST continues to lead the worldwide anti-virus vendor market, but Microsoft is quickly closing the gap, moving from commanding just 3.6% of the market to a 16.8% share. AVAST, with a 17.5% market share, has seen little movement in its penetration in the past six months, OPOSWAT noted. To boot, no other vendor increased by more than 1% during the period.

As for where Microsoft is picking up clients, the report shows that three vendors – ESET, AVG and Kaspersky – posted decreases of around 1% of their respective market shares.

In North America specifically, Microsoft showed a big leap of 10% over the last six months, coming in at a 32% share and a very strong lead. Symantec lags in second place at 15.7%, while global leader AVAST takes the third spot at 11.3%.

Both Symantec and AVAST posted modest gains in Q4, but the remaining top vendors showed small decreases. The exception was Lavasoft, at twelfth place, showing a 0.9% gain.

The top 10 vendors, with the help of Microsoft, continue to solidify their combined hold on the market, making it increasingly difficult for smaller vendors to compete. Globally, the share of the top 10 vendors in the market increased by 0.7% to account for almost 90% of the pie. In North America, the top twelve vendors increased their share by 1.3%, for a total of about 89% of the market.

When it comes to products themselves, the report found that for the first time in an OPSWAT market share report, Microsoft Security Essentials is the top product worldwide. With a 2.3% increase for a total of 15.3%, the product has overtaken avast! Free Antivirus as the world’s most widely-used product. Microsoft Security Essentials also continued to make very large gains in North America, increasing 9.1% over the past six months to hold more than 30% of the market.

With an insignificant gain and a share of 13.6%, avast! Free Antivirus is comfortable in the second position globally, followed by Avira Free Antivirus at a 9% share after an increase of 1.5%. This increase, only surpassed by that of ESET Smart Security, makes these two products the second and third fastest growing (after Security Essentials).

On the flip side, the biggest loss in market share came from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, at –1.5%, although its 6.8% share was still enough to maintain the fourth position, OPSWAT noted.

In North America, the combined share of the top anti-virus products increased by 1.4% in this market, for a total of 25.2% share. To that end, avast! Free Antivirus trails in the second position at just an 8.7% penetration following a small increase of 0.4%. That’s followed by AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus.

Behind Security Essentials, Norton Internet Security showed the biggest gain in North America, while Norton AntiVirus showed the biggest loss in the ranking.

Microsoft Security Essentials also leads in another area: it has a 94.2% rate of activation, and is the product most likely to have real-time protection enabled. McAfee VirusScan, avast! Free Antivirus and Avira Free Antivirus follow, each with near 90% of users having RTP enabled. Norton Internet Security has the lowest rate of real-time protection enabled, at 66.6%, behind Norton AntiVirus and Kaspersky Internet Security. The average across all products is near 83%, with seven of the top twelve products showing a rate higher than the average.

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