Bill Gates, the chairman of the software giant, said on Tuesday Microsoft was on track to deliver a broad antivirus product to consumers by the end of the year following its acquisition of Sybari Software announced last week.

“Customers are concerned about the risk malicious software poses to their personal information, and frustrated by its impact on the reliability and performance of their computers,” Gates said.

Microsoft last month rolled out a free test version of the software that removes the unwanted spyware – which can redirect or hijack Internet browsers – based on technology from Giant Company, which Microsoft acquired in December.

At the time, Microsoft did not say whether it would eventually charge users for the programme.

A paid version of the antivirus software will be aimed at corporate customers, who often require more complex infrastructure support.

Internet Explorer

In addition, the company will launch a new version of its Internet Explorer browser with tougher security features to help fend off threats like “phishing” – the use of websites designed to look like a legitimate site of a bank or other firm in order to get passwords – along with viruses and spyware, Gates said.

A test version of the new browser, version 7.0, will be available this year and it will be incorporated in the next version of Windows Longhorn, expected to reach computer users next year.