Microsoft Corp.'s MSN division will offer antivirus protection at no extra charge to computer users who subscribe to a package of software and services for high-speed Internet users, the company said Thursday.
MSN Premium, due for release this winter, costs $9.95 a month and is designed for computer users who already have high-speed Internet access through Internet providers.
Through a deal with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Network Associates, MSN Premium customers will have full antivirus and firewall protections for their computers -- normally a $70 product -- said Lisa Gurry, MSN group product manager.
"Broadband users in particular do face a risk because they have an always-on connection," she said.
The move reflects two of Microsoft's priorities -- to gain paying subscribers for its money-losing MSN division and to promote computer security after a series of embarrassing Microsoft software flaws opened the door for hackers to attack computers around the world.
The deal expands on an existing agreement between MSN and Network Associates, in which MSN 8 Internet subscribers can pay for limited antivirus protection. Network Associates offers its antivirus and firewall protections to America Online subscribers for an added fee and to other Internet providers' customers as well.