Microsoft to deliver free antivirus software next year

I just got this announcement from a Microsoft spokesperson:

Microsoft today announced plans for a new consumer security solution that will offer core malware protection at no additional charge to consumers. Code named “Morro,” this solution will be available in H2 2009 and will be specifically designed to address the demands created by smaller PC form factors, explosive PC growth in emerging markets, and rapid increases in the incidence of global malware. This new offering will focus on providing a core antimalware solution that helps protect against a range of threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans.

As part of Microsoft’s strategy to offer a security solution that helps protect the broadest number of consumers possible, the company also announced it will discontinue retail sales of its Windows Live OneCare subscription service effective June 30, 2009. Microsoft will ensure all current customer remain protected through the life of their subscriptions.  This decision will help Microsoft focus on its goal of providing a trustworthy computing experience while removing cost and hardware barriers to quality PC protection.

Free antimalware protection? That sound you just heard was a shiver going down the collective spine of executives at McAfee, Symantec, and other antivirus companies.

The timing suggests that it could be available with the launch of Windows 7.

More details here.

17 thoughts on “Microsoft to deliver free antivirus software next year

  1. Though with the “same core malware engine,” I’m not sure that it’s worth bothering with even free. OneCare commonly finishes at or near the bottom in effectiveness in AV comparative tests.

  2. Hmmm… I am a WL OneCare subscriber — 4 machines. Too bad, in some respects; on the other hand, I’ve always felt that such protection should be a part of the OS, anyway, rather than an add-on cost.

  3. Brian, Defender is free (and even included in Vista), but it’s not AV, only antispyware. It comes from an era when AV and antispyware were two different products.

  4. I wonder why the the OS can’t be secure. It just seems so amazing that an OS needs to have an antivirus program to do what it should do by itself.

  5. Good riddance to Norton and McAfee!

    I wonder if this will be bundled with Win7, especially since Defender won’t be apparently.

  6. Cory, with MS’s unbundling trend in Win7, I bet it won’t be, though it should be since what utility could possibly be more important.

    I wouldn’t count out Norton quite yet. No doubt they’ll market, as they’ve done in the past, to fill in the MS gaps. Fortunately for Symantec, they actually have a good product now with the new NAV/NIS–some reviews call it the best.

  7. The press release says that this is not a stripped down Onecare. So is it a beefed-up Windows Defender? What’s the codebase heritage?

    I’m not sure why Microsoft dropped antivirus from Windows 95 to begin with. I mean, I liked having AV bundled into DOS 6. And the bundled MSAV had a Windows 3.1 GUI. Was it just that they didn’t want to keep paying Central Point?

  8. Well spotted there Ed.

    Im a big fan of Microsoft, im so happy they have done this, yes they may get bashed for having a weak virus detection but again the more people install the new AV from Microsoft the more they will get data, just like Symantec and other AV companies collect and analyse virus technology.

    Microsoft might focus more attention in this area of virus detection, Microsoft is a company that cares about its customers, in fact Apple wont even do such thing or even an anti spyware for that matter.

    Microsoft has invested heavily in communities where people like in Africa and developing countries have internet access and more people who NEVER used a PC in their lifetime can now use a PC for free.

    Microsoft even works with companies that gives away free computers to those less fortunate.

    Come to business, working with Microsoft partners has brought lots of bread and butter for some IT entrepreneurs by working with Microsoft.

    I have yet to see Apple do some responsibility on Apple users, in fact, i have yet to see a library in Africa full of Apple computers for the communities to use, in fact i doubt in some EU countries and Asia too if they get Apple Macs for use in schools and other projects.

    Again Microsoft might get attacked and possibly be charged because some of their competitors will whine and say Microsoft is driving them out of business with their upcoming new AV, but here is a company that has dedicated itself into bringing a safety security to millions of its users in all coners of the earth.

    Microsoft cant even develop more products on their OS and future ones for fear of bundling their innovative application with their OS.

    If you look now, Apple is more anti competitive compared to Microsoft, look at how the iTunes is tied to iPods and 3rd party software compatibility that wont be allowed, Apple also ties their OS with their hardware, why cant we buy a 3rd party Macs made by another company, Pystar was driven out of the window, no more cloned macs, again because Apple is not Microsoft they do as they please.

    Again i wonder why Steve Ballmer smiles more than Steve Jobs……..

  9. RE: Rick
    I agree that Defender only protects against spyware, however I never cared for the splitting of hairs between products that protected against Spyware – Malware – Virus. Really a product should protect the computer against anything deemed harmful. I never quite understood the line that Defender walked as to what it tried to stop and what it didn’t. I guess a single solution is good. The other problem I have is that this is billed as a free “consumer” product and there will still be a fee based “corporate” product. Why?

  10. Security and Microsoft ….. it’s a PITA combination. This application turns out to be useless as usual.

  11. Ed,

    In all reviews OneCare is one of the most low ranked security suites in terms of effectiveness and usability. The cheap derivate Morro will not change this situation.

    For all other things i am a happy MS user. 😉

  12. Well OneCare never particularly appealed to me and I can’t say I’d splash out money on it given that there are other apps out there doing a much better job for free.

    I agree with a point that’s already been made though. Why can’t Windows focus on building this kind of technology in to its upcoming operating system, rather than a separate product?

    I’ll reserve my judgment until I see the final software. It’ll certainly be noted carefully by the major anti-virus companies of the world though. Microsoft and free? Hmm…

  13. Since I started using Win2K in 2000, then XP in 2002, then Vista – all properly administered – never had any viruses/malware, ever.

    A simple three-step advice will kill the AV industry:

    Use standard user accounts for all of your computer use, except administration. Use strong passwords.
    Use the packet-state inspection firewall, included in most desktop OS’es today.
    Keep up with the critical security updates.

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