Avast: Microsoft "actively discouraging" Windows 8 Metro version

Earlier this week, we reported that WinZip, the makers of the popular file compression tool, was making a Metro version of the software for Windows 8. However, it seems not all of the more popular third party software developers are planning to do the same thing. In fact, one software company claims that Microsoft is actually trying to prevent a Metro version of their popular software product.

The company is Avast, which claims over 150 million active users of its various software products, including its well known free antivirus software. When we emailed Avast to find out if they were making a Metro version of their antivirus program for the Metro UI in Windows 8, we received a surprising answer from its PR rep Lyle Frink:

First of all, we are already on Windows 8. Our new avast! Antivirus version 7 is Windows 8 Beta compatible and includes specific features for Windows 8 such as the Early-Load Antimalware Driver (ELAM) against system-level rootkits and bootkits.

Now moving on to the Metro UI. There will be no specific avast! for Metro. This is something that Microsoft is actively discouraging. However, if a user is in the Metro environment, they will be still notified by avast! that a virus has been blocked.

We have contacted Avast again to get more information about why Microsoft would not want a Metro version of Avast's software. We have also contacted Microsoft for their own response. If this is true, it means that at least some software makers will be limited in offering their products on Windows 8, especially since Windows 8 for ARM-based devices will only come in a Metro version.

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72 Comments

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There is not connection between these two - the desktop antivirus can perfectly scan all metro apps in the same way it can scan Black&White apps even if its own GUI is in colors.

Quote from the article: "If this is true, it means that at least some software makers will be limited in offering their products on Windows 8, especially since Windows 8 for ARM-based devices will only come in a Metro version."

Are you joking or that much uninformed? Metro (or WinRT) makes it impossible to implement many useful applications and addons. Some of the examples: Video/audio codecs, antiviruses, personal firewalls, seemless cryptography like TrueCrypt, skins, browser plugins and in principle anything, what is a system component and not a standalone application.

watchthisspace said,
How long until the EU sues Microsoft being anti competitive in the Anti-Virus Market like how they did with Internet Explorer...?

how dare they try to keep all their users secure out of the box. its very anti competitive.

idiot

vcfan said,

how dare they try to keep all their users secure out of the box. its very anti competitive.

idiot

Are you calling me an idiot? For what reason? Was I the one who thought it was anti-competitive to sue Microsoft for millions for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows? Am I the EU? No..

Go play in traffic.

This is just so awesome...

A whole set of comments and debate, that border on insane to slap yourself funny.

I know malware protection software is as much of a religion as OSes; however, most users never stop to assess how much their favorite product creates problems and messes with the functionality of the OS and Applications. They also do not factor their time they invest into using the product and the general system performance drain the product will have.

Avast, AVG, Symantec, McAfee, and on and on and on... Some are less painful than others, but almost all of them 'inject' themselves into the OS at levels their software has no business, and some are so stupid they will be doing real-time checking on large game data files, so that when they are playing Crysis2 or SWTOR the anti-virus/malware software causes the HD to thrash, consumes a huge chunk of RAM and kills overall game/app performance by 10-50%.

I think Microsoft should discourage all these companies from even 'touching' Windows 8, it has the Microsoft technology built in, that people know as Defender/MSE. And despite personal 'feelings', it is based on the Forefront security technologies that is good enough for Enterprise servers with millions of external users and thousands of internal users, and is even used on super-computing clusters, so I imagine it is good enough for your home laptop.

Microsoft's own Windows Defender isn't a Metro app either; it is completely silent and invisible to the user and only makes itself known when there is a problem (it finds an infection or is not working correctly). Other security vendors can tie into these notification methods in the same way. Relevant notifications are vastly preferable to having a dedicated Metro tile that would almost always say everything is OK anyway.

Avast is pretty much crap. Where I worked, before my employment, they had it on 70 machines and it was crap. A lot of viruses continued to infiltrate the organization, not to mention worms and malware. One of the most prevalent was shortcut virus. Even with Updated definitions, Avast still failed at protecting the systems from it. The first thing I did was reimaged all systems with MSE installed and the only time you will encounter Shortcut and other nasties is when MSE detects and cleans a thumb drive of it. AVG is another example of crap, the only thing it is good at is false positives.

Every system I get my hands on, I make sure MSE is installed with updated defs. Also using Forefront EndPoint on the server.

jd100 said,
This of course has lawsuit written all over it.

How on earth could you possibly think lawsuit when it clearly says, both in the title and in the quote:This is something that Microsoft is actively discouraging.
Discouraging. There is no: You can't do this. Therefore there can be no lawsuit.

MiukuMac said,
Considering MSE is about as useful as Dick Cheney when it comes to protecting anything, it's hardly a surprise.

Still is better than Avast at detecting malware

gzAsher said,
Still is better than Avast at detecting malware

AV tests disagree but I won't bother to argue with it - you can Google it for yourself.

Believe what you will, my security and safety isn't dependent on anyone else.

MiukuMac said,

Believe what you will, my security and safety isn't dependent on anyone else.

Yup, Macs can't get malware anyway.

warwagon said,

One word: meh

The same word could be used to describe your non-constructive "adds nothing to the conversation" post.

Well it's kind of obvious, I guess. Metro-style apps are sandboxed. They have no access to anything like what an anti-virus needs access to. However, I was expecting them to have special privileges, like Web browsers. All metro-style Web browsers are desktop apps with a Metro-style UI on the front-end. They could allow anti-viruses to work like that, as well.

My understanding is that WinRT apps also don't talk to the kernel directly either. They talk through a broker process in userland and access to calls defaults to denied so we're looking at an extremely locked down system.

chAos972 said,
My understanding is that WinRT apps also don't talk to the kernel directly either. They talk through a broker process in userland and access to calls defaults to denied so we're looking at an extremely locked down system.

This is correct. If you take a peek into task manager, there's a process called 'immersiveapphost.exe' or something. That is the broker process.

chAos972 said,
My understanding is that WinRT apps also don't talk to the kernel directly either. They talk through a broker process in userland and access to calls defaults to denied so we're looking at an extremely locked down system.

No apps, not even Win32 ones, talk to the kernel directly apart from drivers. Win32 != NT.

There's not really a point of a Metro antivirus on Windows-On-ARM anyway, as those applications have to be completely sandboxed / cant call any Win32 code, so there both wouldn't be anyway to get a virus to do anything, nor to get a virus scanner to actually do it's job.

We have contacted Avast again to get more information about why Microsoft would not want a Metro version of Avast's software.

the journalist who wrote this has obviously no idea about how WinRT/metro apps work.

Every WinRT app is sandboxed in an Application Container (appcontainer), and it has no rights to read/write on the filesystem, or communicate with a win32 app. Thus, a WinRT based "antivirus" would have no way to detect virus or communicate with a win32-based antivirus service to report the system state.

So it is impossible to write an antivirus on Metro (using the publicly available apis), the same way it is impossible to write an antivirus on WP7 or an antivirus on android which would be actually efficient (antiviruses on android are a joke, since they run in a sandbox they can't catch system level infections).

Edited by link8506, Apr 6 2012, 7:31pm :

link8506 said,

the journalist who wrote this has obviously no idea about how WinRT/metro apps work.

Every WinRT app is sandboxed in an Application Container (appcontainer), and it has no rights to read/write on the filesystem, or communicate with a win32 app. Thus, no way to detect virus or communicate with a win32-based antivirus service.

So it is impossible to write an antivirus on Metro (using the publicly available apis), the same way it is impossible to write an antivirus on WP7 or an antivirus on android which would be actually efficient (antiviruses on android are a joke, since they run in a sandbox they can't catch system level infections).

THIS!

Metro apps are supposed to be immersive, full screen apps. Why would you need any AV to run as a full screen immersive app?

Then as you said it would also be sandboxes! So utterly pointless.

Then we have essentials baked right into the OS.

as far as arm av is concerned, why? There will only be a metro environent and all apps will come from the windows store. Classic email viruses and phishing scams won't work as there will be no w32 API.


duddit2 said,

THIS!

Metro apps are supposed to be immersive, full screen apps. Why would you need any AV to run as a full screen immersive app?

For the same reason I want an internet compatible Microwave oven.. it's COOL!

rijp said,

For the same reason I want an internet compatible Microwave oven.. it's COOL!

If you consider a full screen app with the words "No Viruses Detected" in green font to be cool, you really need to get out more. There is absolutely no need for a full screen interface to an antivirus app. In fact if the AV app is doing it's job, you shouldn't even know it's there 99% of the time.

John Callaham said,

Well since Windows 8 ARM will only come in a Metro UI, yes

i'm sure MS will take care of this with 1st party software

John Callaham said,

Well since Windows 8 ARM will only come in a Metro UI, yes

No, absolutely not, since WinRT are sandboxed, the same way WP7 apps are.
There is NO way to write a malware on Windows 8 ARM since the desktop is limited only to Microsoft approved applications, and WinRT doesn't expose features that could be used in a malicious way (no full file system access, no access to private data belonging to other apps, no way to start automatically in the background without user awareness, ...)

So, no, you don't need an antivirus on win8 ARM, the same way you don't need an antivirus on iOS or WP7.

link8506 said,

No, absolutely not, since WinRT are sandboxed, the same way WP7 apps are.
There is NO way to write a malware on Windows 8 ARM since the desktop is limited only to Microsoft approved applications, and WinRT doesn't expose features that could be used in a malicious way (no full file system access, no access to private data belonging to other apps, no way to start automatically in the background without user awareness, ...)

So, no, you don't need an antivirus on win8 ARM, the same way you don't need an antivirus on iOS or WP7.

yeah, just like how most internet browsers are sandboxed now and hackers have still found ways to break out of them, what makes you think the same thing can't happen to WinRT. you're just being blind it you think it can't, there's no such thing as secure where the computer world is concerned

Brando212 said,
yeah, just like how most internet browsers are sandboxed now and hackers have still found ways to break out of them, what makes you think the same thing can't happen to WinRT. you're just being blind it you think it can't, there's no such thing as secure where the computer world is concerned

Actually, no, there's no malware for WP7.
There is an antivirus (AVG), but the only thing it does is looking for eicar.jpg.
There was the SMS flaw, but it didn't allow for remote code execution.

John Callaham said,

Well since Windows 8 ARM will only come in a Metro UI, yes

Umm.. I'm quite sure Windows 8 ARM has a desktop too.

Aethec said,

Actually, no, there's no malware for WP7.
There is an antivirus (AVG), but the only thing it does is looking for eicar.jpg.
There was the SMS flaw, but it didn't allow for remote code execution.

just because there's not currently doesn't mean that will always be the case. it's no different than how people used to say Mac's couldn't get viruses

Brando212 said,

just because there's not currently doesn't mean that will always be the case. it's no different than how people used to say Mac's couldn't get viruses

WP7 apps are fully sandboxed, and you won't find many people thinking WP7 can get viruses easily.
OS X was never secure - a lot of people knew it was just a matter of time.

Morden said,

i'm sure MS will take care of this with 1st party software

In fact, they have - Windows Defender (basically, MSE with a new front-end, and identical to Forefront Endpoint, which Microsoft sells to enterprise and corporate customers) is included with Windows 8 Consumer Preview and - provided certain governments (*COUGH* European Union *COUGH*) don't have conniptions, will be included with the finished OS.

I can totally see where Microsoft is coming from with this. I just cannot see how a Metro style Anti Virus app would fit into the overall Metro experience. An anti virus application is something you would normally leave running as a background process.

foodan said,
I can totally see where Microsoft is coming from with this. I just cannot see how a Metro style Anti Virus app would fit into the overall Metro experience. An anti virus application is something you would normally leave running as a background process.

exactly... toast notifications for anything the soft wants to say to me but otherwise the quieter and more undetectable the better

foodan said,
I can totally see where Microsoft is coming from with this. I just cannot see how a Metro style Anti Virus app would fit into the overall Metro experience. An anti virus application is something you would normally leave running as a background process.

Maybe a tile to show scanning process, active protection, etc. It is not that useful, but also not bad at all.

Luis Mazza said,

Maybe a tile to show scanning process, active protection, etc. It is not that useful, but also not bad at all.

Not possible.
Interprocess communication between metro apps and win32 apps is forbidden by microsoft.

Microsoft doesn't want metro apps to be just a front end for win32 apps running in the background. Even sockets connections to localhost are blocked to prevent this scenario.

link8506 said,

Not possible.
Interprocess communication between metro apps and win32 apps is forbidden by microsoft.

Microsoft doesn't want metro apps to be just a front end for win32 apps running in the background. Even sockets connections to localhost are blocked to prevent this scenario.

That's pretty interesting. Thank you.

link8506 said,

Not possible.
Interprocess communication between metro apps and win32 apps is forbidden by microsoft.

Microsoft doesn't want metro apps to be just a front end for win32 apps running in the background. Even sockets connections to localhost are blocked to prevent this scenario.


I didn't know that before reading your reply...

So user have to install Win32 and Metro version of an app IF he/ she want to use the same app? In other words, Win32 and Metro version of an app is considered to be two different programs on Windows?

GraphiteCube said,

I didn't know that before reading your reply...

So user have to install Win32 and Metro version of an app IF he/ she want to use the same app? In other words, Win32 and Metro version of an app is considered to be two different programs on Windows?

Yes. But for developers who are creative, they can send you to the metro version to install afterwards, if they have one. I'm sure as the Metro stuff matures there will be secure for them to communicate with desktop apps.

GraphiteCube said,

I didn't know that before reading your reply...

So user have to install Win32 and Metro version of an app IF he/ she want to use the same app? In other words, Win32 and Metro version of an app is considered to be two different programs on Windows?

Yeah, because Metro apps are only available through the windows store and apps that are available on the windows store must be able to run on x86 and ARM based copies of windows. If a metro app required a win32 app backend it wouldn't match this criteria.

What I'm curious of is if there will be a facility for Metro apps to run native code if it was packaged as part of the application and provided ARM and x86 binaries. Otherwise it will make high performance games difficult.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Why are you even reporting this?

Avast is probably the ********* AV after AVG...now stop using it.

This a matter of preference, because it works great for me, unlike AVG, which is the ********* that you're calling,

Luis Mazza said,

This a matter of preference, because it works great for me, unlike AVG, which is the ********* that you're calling,

Works? By that you mean you see it running in the background right? It ACTUALLY doesn't detect ****, belive me.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Why are you even reporting this?

I agree there's no need on reporting if every existing software will get a Metro version but...

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Avast is probably the ********* AV after AVG...now stop using it.

I have seen avast working and imo it is one of the best free av out there, although MSE is enough for me.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Works? By that you mean you see it running in the background right? It ACTUALLY doesn't detect ****, belive me.

Avast has saved me many times, although it is not perfect and no antivirus software is perfect.

robert_dll said,

I agree there's no need on reporting if every existing software will get a Metro version but...


I have seen avast working and imo it is one of the best free av out there, although MSE is enough for me.

Yeah and by "working" is the same as your insurance company, they "work" too, but unfortunately they don't *DO* anything until you have an accident, THAT's when you find out they suck.. is what Luis is trying to tell you. Avast may be "running" but you don't know what you don't know, just because you LIKE a product does not deem its worth. It could have missed some virus or spyware you don't KNOW unless you use *ANOTHER* product to verify.

This is called "TESTING" and why AVAST is considered one of the WORST anti-virus products, so STOP arguing, because it's CLEAR you have ZERO idea what you are talking about. AVAST is horrible, it doesn't work, period, DESPITE your endearment to the product, that does NOT give it credibility, but it DOES give you less credibility since you agree it "works", when it fact its been PROVE it does NOT.

Luis Mazza said,

Avast has saved me many times, although it is not perfect and no antivirus software is perfect.

I beg to differ. ESet is perfect, absolutely.

rijp said,

Yeah and by "working" is the same as your insurance company, they "work" too, but unfortunately they don't *DO* anything until you have an accident, THAT's when you find out they suck.. is what Luis is trying to tell you. Avast may be "running" but you don't know what you don't know, just because you LIKE a product does not deem its worth. It could have missed some virus or spyware you don't KNOW unless you use *ANOTHER* product to verify.

This is called "TESTING" and why AVAST is considered one of the WORST anti-virus products, so STOP arguing, because it's CLEAR you have ZERO idea what you are talking about. AVAST is horrible, it doesn't work, period, DESPITE your endearment to the product, that does NOT give it credibility, but it DOES give you less credibility since you agree it "works", when it fact its been PROVE it does NOT.

Hurrrrr, I type in caps to prove a point when I could instead use data to back up my results. Good luck with your failed argument. http://www.av-comparatives.org...ivesreviews/summary-reports

There is no perfect AV, but if I had to choose a paid one, I'd go with Kaspersky. If I had to choose a free one, I'd go with Avast (who has a better history than AVG and MSE).

KSib said,

Hurrrrr, I type in caps to prove a point when I could instead use data to back up my results. Good luck with your failed argument. http://www.av-comparatives.org...ivesreviews/summary-reports

There is no perfect AV, but if I had to choose a paid one, I'd go with Kaspersky. If I had to choose a free one, I'd go with Avast (who has a better history than AVG and MSE).

Yep, i'm an Avast Fan as well on the free front. That's what I use on all my computers and what I also recommend to my customers. I'm all about the balance of performance and protection. I think Avast Offers both. I think rijp may want to get a piece of toilet paper to whip the **** dribbling out his mouth.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Why are you even reporting this?

Avast is probably the ********* AV after AVG...now stop using it.

not sure if serious or what here but Avast according to many online comparison sites and groups is one of the best there is. It is 10x better than many paid versions of some companies anti virus programs. I suggest you look this info up before jumping to this conclusion. This report alone shows how people would much rather see Avast over many others on a yearly public main test series as people seem to trust it more and for good reason - it is that good!
http://www.av-comparatives.org...paratives_survey2012_en.pdf

rijp said,

Yeah and by "working" is the same as your insurance company, they "work" too, but unfortunately they don't *DO* anything until you have an accident, THAT's when you find out they suck.. is what Luis is trying to tell you. Avast may be "running" but you don't know what you don't know, just because you LIKE a product does not deem its worth. It could have missed some virus or spyware you don't KNOW unless you use *ANOTHER* product to verify.

This is called "TESTING" and why AVAST is considered one of the WORST anti-virus products, so STOP arguing, because it's CLEAR you have ZERO idea what you are talking about. AVAST is horrible, it doesn't work, period, DESPITE your endearment to the product, that does NOT give it credibility, but it DOES give you less credibility since you agree it "works", when it fact its been PROVE it does NOT.

Hey bro, all antiviruses are like that. They only work with a recognized file. That's why I've stopped using AV and just have badass outpost firewall.
But Avast is pretty cool, much better than AVG and MSE.

I used Avast for the last year. The reason that I picked Avast? When I googled Anti-Virus comparisons and reviews it was always in the Top 3. The top 5 or 6~ are close enough that you can pick any one of them and get good coverage.

I can only guess that the guy raging so hard against Avast had a bad experience and assumed that his experience was the average experience. TBQH sounds like PEBKAC.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Why are you even reporting this?
Avast is probably the ********* AV after AVG...now stop using it.

It works well on my Windows 7 installation.

It doesn't matter if avast is good or bad, the point of this article is that for some reason MS is telling software makers not to make metro apps...that is the point you should be talking about. Go to the forums on the 2012 AV poll if you wanna discus which is good and bad.

philcruicks said,
It doesn't matter if avast is good or bad, the point of this article is that for some reason MS is telling software makers not to make metro apps...that is the point you should be talking about. Go to the forums on the 2012 AV poll if you wanna discus which is good and bad.

Thank you!

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Why are you even reporting this?
Avast is probably the ********* AV after AVG...now stop using it.

I agree. As a computer tech, I'm cleaning regularly infected computers. For 100 infected computers, I will found
- 80 with Avast, AVG or Avira
- 10 without antivirus
- 9 with paid but outdated antivirus
- 1 with paid up to date AV
If I have to use a free AV, may be PandaCloud. I'm using Eset Nod32 / Smart Security for old PCs and Kaspersky for recent ones (on my opinion, Kaspersky is slightly better). This is a personal reseller choice; latest versions of Norton are also light and efficient.

philcruicks said,
It doesn't matter if avast is good or bad, the point of this article is that for some reason MS [....]

Basically you're right ... but may be one reason Microsoft don't want a metro version of Avast it's because they don't like the quality of their product. I admit it's easy

Movetorecyclebin said,

I agree. As a computer tech, I'm cleaning regularly infected computers. For 100 infected computers, I will found
- 80 with Avast, AVG or Avira
- 10 without antivirus
- 9 with paid but outdated antivirus
- 1 with paid up to date AV
If I have to use a free AV, may be PandaCloud. I'm using Eset Nod32 / Smart Security for old PCs and Kaspersky for recent ones (on my opinion, Kaspersky is slightly better). This is a personal reseller choice; latest versions of Norton are also light and efficient.

Smart security from ESET is getting a bit heavy these days if you ask me so yea I would go with Kaspersky aswell at this point.

rijp said,
Avast may be "running" but you don't know what you don't know, just because you LIKE a product does not deem its worth. It could have missed some virus or spyware you don't KNOW unless you use *ANOTHER* product to verify.

There's no need to be rude, I'm just commenting my opinion about it. I have tested it, and by saying "it works" I'm saying it protected my PC when it was installed there, never had to use another AV to be sure my system was clean, and when I used online Kaspersky it detected nothing. I switched to MSE because I feel I don't need anything more sofisticated, and seriously, what's the point on getting like you did just because a personal opinion? You might need help dude...

Btw, I have used Kaspersky too and liked, but I didn't want to pay (I had no money), so I switched