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Computer protection starts at home.  (Source: Gamespot.com)
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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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
quote:
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
Malwarebytes


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: http://www.av-comparatives.org/


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 (www.sysinternals.com) 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
quote:
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...


"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson














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