Kaspersky Lab has announced an anti-malware product specifically designed for netbooks, the first to fill a potentially lucrative new software niche.

According to the company, Kaspersky Internet Security Special Edition for Ultra-Portables has been "optimised" for netbooks running the Intel Atom, Intel Celeron-M, or VIA C7-M processors that power the current generation of Windows XP-based small-screen wonders.

The product is so optimised that the company says it will not run on systems that don't use these microprocessors even those running on a variant of XP.

Netbooks on which the software has been found to run are the Samsung NC10, MSI Wind, Acer Aspire One, and more recent Asus EeePC models. A full list of tech requirements can be found on the company's website.

Given that the software is more expensive that the company's mainstream anti-virus program, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009, what are users actually getting for their money? After all, conventional anti-virus products do run successfully on netbooks of the x86-compatible chip types specified by Kaspersky.

The software has many of the same features as the equivalent high-end product for mainstream x86 CPUs, including virus, web and IM scanning, email filtering, a firewall, and security for VPNs and even Wi-Fi. It even has the company's useful virtual keyboard the paranoid might find helpful in defeating keyloggers. The only omission appears to be anti-spam.

As to technical optimisation, the software only runs well at a maximum resolution of 1024 x 600, the company said, which suggests that some of the work has been done on making the application look good on a small screen.

The company was unable to furnish further details at press time, but it is likely that the application will also use tweaks to keep its various operations at a lower CPU priority setting by default. Kaspersky Lab's Internet Security Special Edition for Ultra-Portables costs £39.99 (approx $65).