Computer Associates International (CA) will give away its consumer antivirus and firewall software product with a year's subscription to virus signature updates.
The eTrust EZ Armor product carries a retail price of $US49.95 but will be available as a free download from the CA Web site until June 30, 2004, the company said.
The offer is part of Microsoft's Protect Your PC campaign and comes two years after CA pulled a free antivirus product for consumers, saying it was too expensive to maintain.
Microsoft launched the Protect Your PC campaign in response to recent virus and worm outbreaks as a way to get consumers to secure their systems.
CA is not a major competitor in the market for consumer antivirus software compared with big players such as Symantec. CA's free security software announcement resulted in Symantec's share price dropping in the US by $US4.75 between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Symantec chairman and chief executive officer, John Thompson, dismissed CA's move as a desperate attempt to gain market share in the consumer antivirus arena.
"We have seen desperate acts by desperate people before. If you don't have a large share of the market you will try just about anything," he said. "We believe that securing the infrastructure is not philanthropic."
The eTrust EZ Armor software can be downloaded at http://www.my-etrust.com/microsoft/.