Should Zone Labs be afraid of the Vista firewall

This has been a question being asked for awhile now. I was asked this when SP2 for XP was being tested as well. Most companies have good reason to feel concerned when Microsoft enters the arena. Because even if Microsoft can't do it better. They can in fact take your market share. So do firewall vendors have to be concerned with the upcoming firewall in Vista? In my opinion not really. Yes outbound protection is there finally. But the Microsoft firewall product just isn't user friendly. Actually most of the security options that are enabled in Vista are far from user friendly. It is my belief that if things stay as they are now. When Vista is released you will see a massive amount of consumer frustration. Not just because it is a new product and unfamiliar. More do to the fact that ease of use and functionality haven't been taken into account. Microsoft learned nothing from their antitrust legal woes. If anything they have gone further in the wrong direction. You either do things their way or not at all. Your not able to completely uninstall their firewall product. As far as I'm aware you'll be stuck with Windows Defender as well. Yes you can shut both of these off. Only to be warned time and again by the ever so helpful ( well not really ) Security Center that you have chosen to take control of your machine. Microsoft will tell you this all for your own protection. Why give consumers an actual choice. That would be stupid of course. This is done all in the name of making Microsoft look as if they are serious about computer security.

So the question is – is Zone Labs ZoneAlarm product going to face some serious free competition? I'd have to say yes and no. No because ZoneAlarm at this point is still easier to use, setup and understand. Granted the Windows Firewall could change by the time Microsoft releases the final version of Vista. Yes because many ZoneAlarm users have become disillusioned with the product over the years. This is something I personally feel the company hasn't taken seriously. Although many Team Z members including myself have tried to get them to focus more on this. I guess the company just doesn't see negative press as something that hurts the bottom line. Or they feel that most of the gripes are coming from ZoneAlarm free users. Who of course don't contribute to profit margins in most cases. Yet many free users have bought paid versions of ZoneAlarm over the years. It also needs to be kept in mind that customers have friends and family. If one user has a bad experience they tell these people about it. With online forums becoming more and more popular. A companies reputation can be made or broken faster than in the past.

I'm still not sold on the fact that a large number of users would use the Windows Firewall over ZoneAlarm. But over the past few years we have seen some users make this switch. Now that outbound protection is being enabled in the Vista firewall. You could see some consumers decide that this is enough protection. It's possible that some paying customers might even feel that the Microsoft Vista firewall fits their needs now. I don't feel at this time that any security software vendor should take Microsoft lightly. This company has gradually tried to weasel it's way into the security products field. We should keep in mind though. That many people laugh when they hear the words Microsoft and security uttered in the same sentence. Although many of those people aren't your every day average home user. So maybe they very well might make the switch.

Here are some further comments I made in relation to a recent article on the subject.

Odd how no pro ZoneAlarm sites ever seem to get linked here. Nor any pro Zone Labs stories. With that said from I can see there is no real concern if the Vista firewall stays as it currently is. Honestly Vista in regards to security is a usability nightmare at this point. Your average end user is going to be more than frustrated. Although the supposed uber elite security gurus will be cheering on the sidelines. Oh no they won't will they? Because it's Microsoft and they could cure cancer and someone would find a problem with it. Not that the company doesn't deserve a good bashing from time to time.

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