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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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By 306maxi on 11/19/2008 10:25:00 AM , Rating: 2
How soon till Microsoft gets their butts sued off for being anti-competitive in the US and in the EU?

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By rpsgc on 11/19/2008 10:42:06 AM , Rating: 4
Unless they bundle it with Windows I'm sure they'll be fine (hopefully).

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By sbrown23 on 11/19/08, Rating: 0
RE: Bwhahahahaha
By FITCamaro on 11/19/2008 10:46:55 AM , Rating: 2
He's right. The EU will sue them. Hell they sued Microsoft for locking down Vista's kernel to make it more secure for christ sakes.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By FITCamaro on 11/19/2008 10:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
I'll also make not that they'll likely sue them for integrating it with IE8 too.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By jonmcc33 on 11/19/2008 12:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
Apple integrates Safari with Mac OSX. I really don't know why Apple hasn't gotten sued for half the things they have included. I guess the reason is because they don't use modern terms. Airport for "wireless management" and TimeMachine for "backup utility". It's like a child comes up with names for Mac applications.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By TomZ on 11/19/2008 12:46:11 PM , Rating: 2
Apple can do what they want for now since they only have a small marketshare in the PC business. They don't have a monopoly like Microsoft does, and special rules apply to monopolies.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By MScrip on 11/19/2008 11:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
Why is Microsoft a monopoly? I can buy any OS or get one for free. I can buy any brand of computer. I can use any anti-virus or browser I want.

However, if I live in a small city, and there is only one phone company or power company... that's a monopoly.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By TomZ on 11/20/2008 8:52:18 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has a monopoly in desktop OSs because they have around 90% marketshare, plus or minus. Same for Internet browsers. And it is because of these monopolies that they are subject to anti-trust laws - somthing that other companies don't have to worry about.

One other related point I'd like to make is that with the new adminstration in the U.S., odds are that there will be greater scrutiny and analysis of anti-competitive practices. Bush was pretty laissez-faire in this area, but traditionally Democrats are more liberal in terms of applying and enforcing these types of laws.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By Fritzr on 11/21/2008 7:32:29 AM , Rating: 2
They do not have a monopoly in the sense that there is no alternative. Their monopoly comes from so many of the vendors selling programs not supporting nonMicroSoft OS.

You do have alternative OSes to choose from, just no alternative for most of the entertainment software and often a much smaller list of choices for productivity software. The OS is useless if the program you need does not exist...until DeCSS was introduced, illegally, you could only play DVDs on standalone players, MicroSoft or Apple. The alternative OS did not exist...

Check out the videogames some'll see a wide variety of current console games (last year's consoles seem to be forgotten quickly), Windows & a percentage (not all) offering Mac OSX (not older Mac) ... try finding AmigaOS, Linux, Unix, Solaris, VMS or other alternative to the MicroSoft and Apple.

Next try to find alternative OS support for your hardware. There was discussion elsewhere about Linux being dificult to setup. The consensus was with current distros it's easier than Windows unless you do not choose the correct hardware or the programs you want are not supported by your choice of distro. Crossover Office helps by allowing MicroSoft Windows programs to run on Unix compatible OSes...most of the time, but again the solution to limited software is by putting a translation layer in to run software native to the monopoly OS.

Even Mac OSX has Windows emulator to run MS Windows programs that do not have Mac equivalent or where the equivalent does not do the job adequately (IE specific webpages rendered by Mozilla, Opera or Safari for instance)

It's telling that there is little market for an emulator or adapter to run Linux or OSX software under Windows, but the reverse is considered a necessity.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By 306maxi on 11/19/2008 10:59:49 AM , Rating: 2
Oh noes! Someone has discovered my deep dark secret. My DT username is named after a female sanitary product! That or you could actually google my username and find out that it's actually a rally car.

Why would they? Well Microsoft get sued whenever they bundle anything free with an OS. Of course they won't bundle it but if the Eu could figure a way to sue them for it they would because it's always easy to hit Microsoft up for a fine when they are merely offering what customers want and expect from their product.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By Omega215D on 11/19/2008 8:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
It's a shame Peugot doesn't bring their cars over to the US. I personally liked the 206.

Average people expect their OS to come with things and the tech community frowns upon it, when the MS OS doesn't come with anything the average user wonders why Apple has so much when MS doesn't and the tech community will still find something wrong with it.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By 3DoubleD on 11/19/2008 10:44:42 AM , Rating: 2
It is a slippery slope and I completely disagree with the recent EU antitrust case against Microsoft for making Vista more secure and choking the AV market. Regardless, I feel Microsoft has been smart and will not force this product on anyone, thus making this no different then AVG Free. Since the price is right, more people will use AV products, creating a more secure user base. This is attractive to Microsoft since making malicious code more difficult to spread will benefit the image of their real product: Windows.

AV companies can whine and complain all they want, but Microsoft is doing nothing illegal (or even shady). I still feel they would be within their rights to incorporate AV directly into Windows, but unfortunately the EU feels differently. It is like saying car manufacturers cannot include a stereo in the car because if they did it would take away from the after-market car stereo business. Ridiculous. Such a market was born out of the poor product quality to begin with, so it shouldn't be surprising when that market disappears when product quality improves.

RE: Bwhahahahaha
By Aloonatic on 11/19/2008 10:46:08 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully not.

I've always found it strange that they have only fairly recently included any kind of security software, first with windows firewall and now defender.

It only makes sense that a good antivirus and firewall are basics that are both needed and integral to the OS as a whole.

<no doubt bad analogy>

No one complains that car manufacturers sell you a car with their locks, immobilisers and alarms already fitted?

</no doubt bad analogy>

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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