Print 87 comment(s) - last by Jack Ripoff.. on Nov 27 at 4:19 PM

Computer protection starts at home.  (Source:
Microsoft looks to take the fight to malware makers with its own free product

Microsoft has long annoyed security software makers over the last decade as it has rolled out free products which often offer a competitive alternative to competitor's packaged software free-of-charge.  Microsoft merely offered a decently competitive product for a much cheaper price -- free.

With its firewall and antispyware (Windows Defender) built into Vista, business for private firewall software already has taken a hit.  Now in a move that is sure to make Trend Micro, McAffee, Norton, and other security software makers lose sleep; Microsoft has announced that in 2009, it will offer free antivirus software.

To understand this new announcement, a quick trip down memory lane is in order. 

Microsoft first entered the antivirus software business in 1992 with its Microsoft Anti-Virus product, which it contracted to Central Point Inc. (later acquired by Symantec).  The software was designed for Microsoft DOS 6.0 through 6.22 and could detect an impressive 1,234 viruses.  Unfortunately, there were no updates available, though a 1996 pack brought the total up to 2,371 viruses.  Embarrassingly, the software though the Windows 95 installer file was a virus.

After the mixed reviews of Microsoft A-V, Microsoft left the business until 2005 when it released betas of Windows Live OneCare.  The suite combined antivirus software with a tune-up utility, a stronger firewall, and a file backup utility.  The bundle was made commercially available May 31, 2006.  Subsequent Live OneCare 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 have also hit the market since, with the 2.5 iteration debuting in July 3 of this year.

Arriving in the present, Microsoft has announced it is axing the subscription based antivirus software business and will offer its antivirus tools for free.  The new suite is codenamed "Morro" and will available in the second half of 2009.  Microsoft describes the software as a "streamlined solution" and states, "[Morro] will provide comprehensive protection from malware including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. This new solution, to be offered at no charge to consumers, will be architected for a smaller footprint that will use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs."

The latter portion appears to be a clear nod to Windows efforts to push for a leaner footprint from top-to-bottom, a major focus of Windows 7 (which has been subject to recent doubts).

Microsoft will discontinue the OneCare subscription service June 30, 2009, but customers should fret not -- they will soon receive virtually the same solution entirely for free.

Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft states, "Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously.  This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware."

Microsoft has acknowledged that the suite may not contain some of the extra non-security utilities such as tune up and printer sharing available in some commercial antivirus solutions.  However, when it comes to its core AV product it brags that its malware engine has garnered many awards already, including the VB100 award from Virus Bulletin, Checkmark Certification from West Coast Labs and certification from the International Computer Security Association Labs.  Microsoft has made great strides in security, besting a Mac machine and tying a Linux box at a recent hacker conference.

The new software will be available for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Microsoft plans to integrate it with the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 browser which features many security enhancements including the much talked about "Porn Mode".

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Thank god
By evident on 11/19/2008 9:49:44 AM , Rating: 5
now maybe mcafee and norton can finally go out of business. Their software is terrible!

RE: Thank god
By cochy on 11/19/2008 10:01:26 AM , Rating: 1
Well if it's as good as Windows Defender then it will be totally useless.

RE: Thank god
By dgingeri on 11/19/2008 10:56:43 AM , Rating: 2
Windows Defender has been as useful to me as Spybot and Adaware. It catches things Spybot and Adaware don't, and they catch things Defender doesn't, so I use all three in unison. (It's been a long while since I was actually infected with anything, so the prevention components of Spybot and Defender seem to be working quite well.)

Well, I also have adware/spyware prevention in my BitDefender suite as well.

I would not consider any of the 4 totally useless, but each one on its own wouldn't be as useful as all 4 at once.

If you want true protection, use multiple products.

RE: Thank god
By nosfe on 11/19/2008 11:02:35 AM , Rating: 3
got a virus a couple of months ago that got through every antivirus i threw at it(kaspersky, bit defender, nod32) after i reinstalled windows. i kept a copy of the virus on my system to see how long it'll take for them to realize that its a virus; after about a month kaspersky finally caught it. So yes, i'm not that thrilled about "quality" AV solutions as i was in the past

If you want true protection, use a virtual pc

RE: Thank god
By PrezWeezy on 11/19/2008 7:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
If you want true protection, don't use the internet ;)

Nothing is 100%, all you can do is try to eliminate as many holes as possible. That and making sure any porn site you visit is virus free. And someday a virus will get through and that's part of the risk of owning a computer.

We've had probably 20 cases of people getting the "AntiVirus 09" thing. Annoying as hell, luckily it's easy to clean up. And neither Trend, AVG, BitDefender, nor Norton has been able to stop that.

RE: Thank god
By erikejw on 11/24/2008 9:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
It would probably help too if not ad-aware and similar companies didn't take money for excluding some spyware and viruses.

Yes, it is true.

RE: Thank god
By kalak on 11/19/2008 1:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
If you want true protection, use multiple products.

Best,FREE, solution:

- Avast! anti-virus
- Comodo Firewall

I have used Norton, Kaspersky, Zone Alarm.... And the two above (avast + comodo) are really the best of available - including "not free" solutions!

RE: Thank god
By Samus on 11/19/2008 5:48:30 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Thank god
By Screwballl on 11/25/2008 3:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Avast and most of them are crap, especially on Retrospective/ProActive testing.

Using real time scanners:

Avast = 97.3%
Avira = 99.2%
The only other one that is close is AVK (not AVG) at 99.1%.
AVG was at 94.3%, Norton and the rest ranged from 98% down to Microsoft and Mcafee at 84.4 and 84.6%.

Looking at the Retrospective testing:

Avira = 74%
Avast = 28%
Norton = 18%
Microsoft = 29%

My 3 suggestions:

Avira anti-virus
Threatfire for malware
Comodo for firewall

For more info, see:

RE: Thank god
By AlexWade on 11/19/2008 1:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
Malware Bytes right now seems to catch anything and everything, including rootkits. You should try that one. Then I use Microsoft Sysinternals Autoruns program ( to find all the start-up programs and HijackThis to find some other hidden stuff. Between the 3, there hasn't be a piece of malware yet to escape me.

RE: Thank god
By Murloc on 11/19/2008 5:06:01 PM , Rating: 2
I use that one, avast, and some brain.
I already don't need to pay, microsoft isn't doing anything new, just monopolizing by integrating these things in internet explorer. Use firefox XD

RE: Thank god
By borismkv on 11/19/2008 4:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
If you want true protection, learn what the tricks and traps are and learn how to tell when your computer is infected. All the anti-virus and spyware software in the world won't protect someone who is an idiot online.

RE: Thank god
By alphadog on 11/21/2008 2:08:56 PM , Rating: 2
That is some seriously BAD advice.

You don't need a doctor, just learn to recognize that you have a cancer before it become untreatable...

RE: Thank god
By Jack Ripoff on 11/27/2008 4:19:39 PM , Rating: 2
If you want true protection, use multiple products.

If you want true protection, use a decent OS.

Preferably one with execution permissions at filesystem level and some privilege separation...

RE: Thank god
By AnnihilatorX on 11/19/2008 10:18:14 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone tried the new Norton? Many reviewers actually gave thumbs up to their new memory footprint and scan speed.

I guess it's not much an incentive even so when being a happy user of free AVG 8

RE: Thank god
By blowfish on 11/19/2008 10:30:08 AM , Rating: 2
As a long time AVG user, I'm concerned about how much resources AVG8 seems to use, and I'm certainly prepared to give MS free a shot. I like their new emphasis on leaner and meaner....

RE: Thank god
By kensiko on 11/19/2008 9:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
You can try Avira, I just switched to it, it's painless.

RE: Thank god
By Chaser on 11/19/2008 10:42:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yes Norton finally has listened to its customers and its 2009 Internet Security is actually quite good. Symantec also "achitected" it with a very small resource footprint.

Its definitely a very simplified product that manages itself for the most part. It rarely asks for user input and it runs its processes during idle periods. When you walk away you simply get a little reminder that it had been scanning in the background and your computer is free of threats. If the firewall happens to detect anything it only tells you it resolved or prevented something and it quietly goes back to silence. Its a lean, clean, mostly silent product that takes care of itself.

RE: Thank god
By Ammohunt on 11/19/2008 2:35:49 PM , Rating: 3
the million dollar question(s) are can you un-install it or can you just install what you need like just av(i personally don't need all the other garbage that they bundle with it)

RE: Thank god
By tastyratz on 11/19/2008 4:54:24 PM , Rating: 2
I still have my reservations using a Norton product however. I have personally had several nightmare end results, and know several people who have as well. It will be a long time before I consider them again...

Everyone has an opinion on av software based on a handful of viruses they might have encountered personally. One thing that comes in handy when really looking at a solution is getting a review of the big picture. I like the test results from (or similar solutions) which point me in the right direction on a lot of the larger AV solutions.

RE: Thank god
By drebo on 11/19/08, Rating: -1
RE: Thank god
By blowfish on 11/19/2008 10:31:24 AM , Rating: 3
Hmm, you work for Symantec or something?

RE: Thank god
By drebo on 11/19/2008 10:45:53 AM , Rating: 2
Nope. I just show credit where credit is due when a product makes my own job 100% easier.

RE: Thank god
By nosfe on 11/19/2008 11:13:24 AM , Rating: 3
last i checked norton was a good av until symantec happened, then it just got bloated and more bloated with every version; also, they buy PowerQuest and then kill of Partition Magic, how brilliant! so Symantec should have kicked the bucket years ago, not now

RE: Thank god
By omnicronx on 11/19/2008 11:32:25 AM , Rating: 3
Until Symantec happened? Symantec has owned Norton since 1990, what on earth are you talking about. Anyone who thinks that Symantec is going anywhere is an idiot, they are in the top 10 in the worlds largest software companies (currently 6th) and their business does not rely totally on Antivirus products.

RE: Thank god
By nosfe on 11/19/2008 11:58:42 AM , Rating: 2
first point, yes it seems that i remember wrongly about symantec and norton, i remembered about something happening in around 2001 as that was when nav started getting bloated

I'm not saying that Symantec is going anywhere. I'm not saying that EA is going anywhere. I'm just saying that i want them gone. I don't care how big they are, they are crappy companies that did more damage then good

if NAV is so great as you say then why does it need a special program just to make sure that it uninstalls correctly?(Norton Removal Tool)

RE: Thank god
By omnicronx on 11/19/2008 12:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
if NAV is so great as you say then why does it need a special program just to make sure that it uninstalls correctly?(Norton Removal Tool)
I never said NAV is 'so great', but your question has a pretty obvious answer. Its so that the end user, especially in a workplace environment cannot merely uninstall the app. Same thing goes for any virus or intruder that tries to uninstall the app to get further access to the filesystem without interruption. And for the record, the new versions of norton especially the corp editions can be uninstalled. Sometimes there is a password, but the default is 'symantec'. Its more of a deterrent than anything.

RE: Thank god
By nosfe on 11/19/2008 1:08:13 PM , Rating: 3
i'm not talking about those kind of uninstall "problems", i'm talking about all the crap that gets installed with nav that doesn't go away when you uninstall nav. thats why symantec got hammered and why they subsequently made that uninstall tool. If you ask me, the only programs that need special programs just to be able to uninstall them are viruses and other malware in general, definitely not something i'm willing to put on my computer

RE: Thank god
By elessar1 on 11/19/2008 12:50:33 PM , Rating: 3
Working on a 2000+ people enterprise with Symantec on every PC and there hasnt been an infection in more than a year...

Anyway... i use AVG8 on mi own PCs...


RE: Thank god
By tech329 on 11/19/2008 11:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
Norton (Symantec) has really cleaned up their act in the last couple of years. The 2006 product was horrible. 2007 was better as was 2008 and now 2009. I too also only use the Antivirus product. I don't think more than that is required. Making an AV product isn't easy. Focusing on bells and whistles rather than core features was a mistake for those vendors (all of them) who tried the Swiss Army Knife approach. One other piece of advice is to buy the new version each year from a discounter or on sale. Not over the Interent as a download. Ever!!! For this category of software it is far better to have a real CD and a license key. Less hassle and for non-tech persons, way easier.

RE: Thank god
By xphile on 11/23/2008 8:19:24 PM , Rating: 2
Jolly good luck to you if you think in this day and age you dont need a capable firewall.

Your purchase advice is disasterous too - it cant be *better* to buy a cd - since 10 minutes after it's pressed Symantec will have updates you need to download anyway, either to the virus definitions or the program or both. And in reality when you install the programme at its earliest it is probably 4 to 6 weeks old up to 10 or 11 months old, and you could have to download about as much as you installed in the first place.

With an account you cant "lose" the software - if anything goes wrong you just download it again, and that version is always current.

I do agree it can be cheaper to find a cd package in some cases if you know where to look - but the whole thrust of your argument was that it was easier for the non-tech person - and trust me;

A) Non tech persons just bowl into a store and pay full retail 100% of the time - they do not know where to get discounts.


B) If you've ever seen the results of the majority of non-tech peoples attempts to install virus software from cds you'd know they somehow manage to get that wrong more often than not - the "click here, now bugger off", internet based installs are rapidly becoming the most user friendly.

RE: Thank god
By Krotchrot on 11/19/2008 1:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
Living in a whole what?

RE: Thank god
By kalak on 11/19/2008 2:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
he means "hole", not "whole"...

RE: Thank god
By HighWing on 11/19/2008 1:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
They need an enterprise class product that is centrally managed and provides them with a certain level of monitoring.

Ok maybe you missed the part where it said this will be offered by Microsoft themselves. I would be willing to stake a good deal of money on the fact that there will most likely be an update to Windows Server that will add such functionality. At the very least I'm sure there will be a whole slew of policy sets that will allow admins configure every aspect of how it runs.

RE: Thank god
By Nekrik on 11/19/2008 3:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
their corporate versions were never as bad as their commercial ones, but they burned too many bridges and I still would vote them off the island and into oblivion first, followed closely by McAfee. Their engineering practices, they're invasive installs, damage to computers in the past, crapy uninstallers that fail miserably, inability to learn how to make AV software that doesn't include dirty little kernel hacks...screw them completely.

RE: Thank god
By chick0n on 11/19/08, Rating: 0
RE: Thank god
By chris2618 on 11/19/2008 11:13:16 AM , Rating: 2
I don't have glue what you are talking about. i had McAfee antivirus and firewall for a few years had no problems and had 3 or 4 virus in total. tried free antivirus and firewall and they just don't do a good job.

RE: Thank god
By kalak on 11/19/2008 2:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have glue what you are talking about.

Funny, veeery funny !

@chris2618: correct is "I don't have a clue ..."

RE: Thank god
By chris2618 on 11/19/2008 2:30:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well at least i made someone laugh.
i would of used the excuse that the g is near the c on the keyboard if i hadn't of missed out the 'a' as well.

i see why they have that preview button lol

RE: Thank god
By Einy0 on 11/19/2008 5:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed 100%... Avast and AVG are solid free alternatives.

RE: Thank god
By cubby1223 on 11/19/2008 7:39:44 PM , Rating: 3
now maybe mcafee and norton can finally go out of business. Their software is terrible!

Who the F voted this post up?

If you don't like McAfee & Norton, you don't have to buy it. But with Microsoft giving it's product away for free, you may soon not have *any* alternatives. No Kaspersky. No Antivir. No NOD32. No AVG. No BitDefender. These companies *have* to charge because that is their source of income. They don't have the Windows monopoly to keep the cash-flow rolling in.

RE: Thank god
By mindless1 on 11/19/2008 10:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
MS can give it away for free but remember there were already very popular free alternatives.

One problem with MS gaining marketshare had to be that there is a general lack of confidence in a company making an AV product for infections of their own OS product. MS' answer has been pile on more security features instead of closing security holes. Enter bloat, the very thing so many people dislike about Norton and McAfee alternatives.

On the other hand, it is good this AV product is separate rather than more bloat integrated into windows by default, and since there are common indexes of AV performance MS will have an indication of which areas they need to improve upon to remain equal or better than the competition.

If they can keep the bloat down and remain equal or better, their product should fairly displace the marketshare of some of those AV developers you've listed, although there is still something to be said for not having all your eggs in one basket, one of the good things about so many AV companies is it makes it harder for a malware author to plan a common attack against the AV app that might intercept that malware.

RE: Thank god
By Nekrik on 11/19/2008 10:23:12 PM , Rating: 2
if I hadn't commented in this thread I would have voted it up if not made the comment myself.

It was a pointed comment at two of the most horrific mass accepted software apps ever seen (maybe NAV more than McAfee), the tech world would have been better off if they'd have died away years ago. As you mentioned, there are still many other alternatives to create competition, we don't 'need' either of these two. I see many posts that agree with my thoughts and a few that do not, I've never personally used either but have seen many systems get completely repaved after NAV completely fucked them up. Their entire organizations need banned from the tech world and repurposed into the service industry.

RE: Thank god
By ggordonliddy on 11/19/2008 9:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
You don't want them out of business. Competition is good. If they all went away, MS would no longer make it free.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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