Microsoft preparing to release free anti-virus software

According to Reuters, Microsoft is getting set to release free anti-virus software for Windows to compete with the likes of Symantec and McAfee.

The software product, codenamed "Morro" after a beach in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is already being tested by Microsoft employees and a trial version will be made available "soon".

Although it is difficult to gauge the effects this move by Microsoft will have over the long term, the announcement appears to have contributed to a recent 0.5% decline in Symantec shares and a 1.3% drop in McAfee shares, while Microsoft's stock price has risen 2.1%. The anti-virus industry generates billions of dollars for companies such as Symantec and McAfee, and Microsoft has always sought to gain a foothold in that market.

The Redmond company's now discontinued OneCare product was one attempt to enter that lucrative market. Although OneCare did generate revenue directly through subscriptions, Microsoft's new anti-virus software will be free to Windows users, meaning that it, like Internet Explorer, could lead to antitrust lawsuits somewhere down the line.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives sees Microsoft's move as "a long-term competitive threat" to other companies operating in the anti-virus space, but he says that in the short-term the "Morro" product is unlikely to make much of a dent in the profits of those other companies.

"Morro" is likely to be targeted to compete with the low end of anti-virus products from other providers, and it will not have much of an impact on sales of full-blown security suites. According to Janice Chaffin, president of Symantec's Consumer Division, "Microsoft's free product is basically a stripped down version of the OneCare product Microsoft pulled from the shelves. A full Internet security suite is what consumers require today to stay fully protected."

The free "Morro" service should, according to Microsoft, be up and running by the end of this year. Although it is true that many anti-virus solutions from other providers have long been available free on the Internet for consumers, this move by Microsoft could well create more legal woes for the company, given its legal status as a monopoly.

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gartner:
'What if you smelled a rotten egg odor in your water and the water company said, "Sure, we can remove that, but it will cost you $50." Would you buy it?'

I think it's a good idea, I'll be using it.

As regards to Defender though, although I'm a M$ fanboy ... I must say it's pretty useless and doesn't find stuff that AdAware or Spybot does.

I hate norton anti-virus, because they eat CPU when anti-virus scanner on.

Windows Live Onecare let me working on this computer and playing game on this computer when they are scanning, and they are faster than Norton and others.

Gameboy

How can an non-existant program, that no one has heard of, and hasn't been released, affect the sales of existing antivirus programs? Thats ridiculous for anyone to claim that.

I'm definitely a Microsoft supporter, but I think I'll stick with my Norton AntiVirus. I've tried other solutions, but that one just seems to be the best... Too risky...

I couldn't believe that MS tried to charge for this in the 1st place.
Anti-Virus should be built in.

The trouble with UAC is that it pops up from user generated clicking even in Win7. Most users just click through the messages and end up with some trojan. There must be a better way.

Gotta love the world we live in where the government actually complains when you try to protect your users from viruses and malware

Chrono951 said,
Gotta love the world we live in where the government actually complains when you try to protect your users from viruses and malware


It is the same world where Members of Parliament from the Prime Minister downwards can commit fraud yet get away with it!

BavonWW said,
It is the same world where Members of Parliament from the Prime Minister downwards can commit fraud yet get away with it!

Assuming you're talking about the UK, that's hardly relevant to this topic.

Chrono951 said,
Gotta love the world we live in where the government actually complains when you try to protect your users from viruses and malware

Governments also have a duty to safeguard jobs and prevent companies abusing their positions (I am not suggesting it is happening here, but it *could* have happened, and has happened previously).

I would agree with the preventing the strong from abusing their positions of strength, but safeguarding jobs? I don't see that one in the law.

It's lame because it's a reactive solution.

MS should be putting its efforts into fixing the OS so it's not susceptible to malware.

GreyWolfSC said,
Why? What's 'lame' about Microsoft wanting to offer base protection to their users?

That's exactly what I'm wondering :S

schwit said,
It's lame because it's a reactive solution.

MS should be putting its efforts into fixing the OS so it's not susceptible to malware.


Isn't that one of the primary goals of Windows 7? Also, wasn't that one of the biggest advancements of Vista?

True, but this product is an admission that enough malware can't be stopped by the OS that it requires additional help.

There's no foolproof virus-free system. Microsoft is doing their best to keep security well in Windows, and catching and killing malware as it comes in is also a good way or preventing damage.

Live OneCare was a reliable and unobtrusive AV program. If this gets rid of the annoying Tune Up option, it will be a win-win for everyone.

GreyWolfSC said,
Yeah, I wasn't fond of the tune-up and backup in OneCare, but the anti-virus was nice. :)


The biggest problem with the tune-up tool was that you couldn't customize it (most other third-party tune-up utilities for Windows are at least customizable, though you still have to run them manually). The backup tool rocks; unlike a LOT of others, it supports media-spanning (CDs and DVDs) and -RW media (even DVD-RW); however, until recently, it didn't support NAS or networked backups (it now supports both, and in the background), and it never supported 64-bit versions of Windows (even XP64).

This is a horrible idea for Microsoft! For one, I would not trust Microsoft to protect their own software. It's better that an outside source take care of anti-virus for any given OS. They have an outside view and are not blinded by internal company bias. I would be surprised this would even fly considering the monopolistic effects it may have. This is a waste of resources for Microsoft that could be better spent in OS development.

Shameful.

cyansky said,
This is a horrible idea for Microsoft! For one, I would not trust Microsoft to protect their own software. It's better that an outside source take care of anti-virus for any given OS. They have an outside view and are not blinded by internal company bias. I would be surprised this would even fly considering the monopolistic effects it may have. This is a waste of resources for Microsoft that could be better spent in OS development.

Shameful.


Wow, did you say the same thing about OneCare, which was also not bundled with Windows?

What possible bias is there about antivirus software? You either stop it or you don't.

cyansky said,
This is a horrible idea for Microsoft! For one, I would not trust Microsoft to protect their own software. It's better that an outside source take care of anti-virus for any given OS. They have an outside view and are not blinded by internal company bias.


Who knows Windows internals better than MS, when they have access to the source and know exactly how it works?

Remember when Symantec threw a fit because some early Vista betas completely locked them out of the kernel and they couldn't figure out ways to sneak in their code? That's a good thing.

So you would rather trust a 3rd party anti-virus company, who could be creating viruses to ensure its existence? Who's product may even contribute to a lot of annoying memory usage and false positives?

Or would you rather trust the company who made the OS, who probably knows all the innards inside and out, and who has had a good product history with OneCare and ForeFront? Also since it's free, and not bundled, there should be no stupid reason to get upset?

You make it sound like Microsoft is doing bad by trying to protect its users.

ozyborn said,
I will never trust Microsoft for my antivirus, antispyware, or any other type of security.

Why wouldn't you? It's not like having an insecure OS would help them.

I'm completely against this. Microsoft is going to do a half-assed job at this anti-virus program, offer as an update on Windows update, then people will have a false sense of security. It you tell someone their computer is protected, it had better actually have a decent amount of protection otherwise you're just setting them up to get burned.

I guess if you were paying money for OneCare they might have actually tried, but have you tried their free Windows Defender software? It does almost nothing to protect against malware

rannan said,
I guess if you were paying money for OneCare they might have actually tried, but have you tried their free Windows Defender software? It does almost nothing to protect against malware

Defender is an excellent product too. I've not had anything get past it. Why do you think it doesn't do anything?

rannan said,
I guess if you were paying money for OneCare they might have actually tried, but have you tried their free Windows Defender software? It does almost nothing to protect against malware

It depends on what "malware" you're talking about. It isn't designed to deal with anything but spyware.

I also liked OneCare (which seemed to be in free beta even longer than it was offered for sale). I look forward to evaluating their new product.

I work at a computer repair shop and the most common thing people bring their computers in for is infections. I've tried in the past to run full scans with Windows Defender and it won't find anything but then I scan with Malwarebytes or Spybot S&D and they'll find plenty of malware and remove them. I eventually gave up on ever trying to use Windows Defender to find or remove malware from a computer.

rannan said,
I guess if you were paying money for OneCare they might have actually tried, but have you tried their free Windows Defender software? It does almost nothing to protect against malware


Well, it has done a damm good job on my systems so far!

Anyone remember Microsoft Anti-Virus for DOS?

Yeah, that stuff wasn't that good. Just run Defrag, and it would warn you that every file has been "modified".

Xenomorph said,
Anyone remember Microsoft Anti-Virus for DOS?

Yeah, that stuff wasn't that good. Just run Defrag, and it would warn you that every file has been "modified".


MSAV for DOS/Windows was supplied by Central Point Software and was a basic version of Central Point Anti-Virus, which was also included in their own PC Tools 7.1; in a rather amusing piece of backstory, Central Point Software was itself acquired that same year......by Symantec.

I hate all anti-virus products, because they cause their computer slow, they never caught a virus from google or other seach engine. I heard that AVG is very heavy software ever! My friend asked me about this. She told me that AVG is not good for her WIndows XP. She prefer Windows Live OneCare over AVG or others, so am I too.

Gameboy

Chrono951 said,
You hate all anti-virus products, yet you use and appear to like OneCare. hmm.



WLOC's miniscule memory footprint likely has a LOT to do with it; considering what you get, the fact that WLOC uses less RAM than either Avast or Zone Alarm (let alone Symantec or McAfee) and rose all the way to number two (from a standing start; remember, Microsoft prior to the acquisition of Giant Software had NO AV utility history) in terms of effectiveness (trailing only Kapersky) is likely VERY galling (moreso for Symantec than McAfee; Symantec acquisition Central Point Software supplied AV software for MS-DOS 5/6.x, while McAfee supplied the AV software for Microsoft's Plus! 98); I came to NAV/NIS *from* Central Point Software's PC Tools.

Bitdefender doesn't take too much ressource and cough a couple of virus for me in the last years without letting one single virus infect my machine.

People have been waiting for this for years. But of course, someone out there will bitch and try to get Microsoft to remove it or bundle it with the rest of the "Live Essentials". But even then, other people will just complain about extra "bloat".

mary jo foley is under the impression this is going to be released as public beta in the next few days.

looking forward to it. onecare was awesome. if it's built just like that AV i'll be stoked!

hopefully they'll have a separate update mechanism than Windows Update for definitions, though.

Nothing much happened when Microsoft starting shipping a firewall with Windows (except for Symantec whining about it). Companies that make AV software will still be able to offer things that a standard one from Microsoft won't, such as E-mail scanning and Internet page realtime scanning etc etc..

Hope they release this before Win7. Being a subscriber of OneCare and never being infected (probably a combination of my browsing habits, and the quality of OneCare), it somewhat bothers me to use an antivirus I'm not familiar with on Win7, especially when there was time left on my OneCare subscription. Grrr...

I actually really liked OneCare, which I only reluctantly dropped because I moved to Windows 7. OneCare seemed to impose no performance penalty, worked seamlessly in the background, and generally behaved itself better than just about any other A/V I've used.

artfuldodga said,
looking forward to its release, considering OneCare ranked second among top AVs recently, along with having the fewest false positives, bring on Morro!
http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2009/...ree-winners.ars



QFT/+1

I had been a beta-tester of WLOC throughout its life (I'm also a beta-tester for Symantec's AV and other utility products, so I can compare them heads-up). Quite honestly, WLOC kicked Norton butt in terms of both false-positives *and* in-the-wild virus protection, and did so in a smaller memory footprint. WLOC has a smaller RAM footprint than even Avast! (which I use now), and is better on false-positives. Avast's advantage (for my situation) is Windows 7 support, which WLOC understandably lacks. (Because of the fact that I was a beta-tester of WLOC, cost/price was irrelevant.)

They're doing no different then AVG. They just need to make sure they don't bind it with a version of Windows by default. Then they will be fine.

Dannydeman said,
They're doing no different then AVG. They just need to make sure they don't bind it with a version of Windows by default. Then they will be fine.


Or Avast, for that matter (which I happen to use, after the announcement, last year, that WLOC's days were numbered; I had been a WLOC beta-tester throughout its entire product cycle). Consider that McAfee is the most-bundled AV product by ISPs (especially US-based ISPs). The second-most bundled? Symantec (no surprise there; not only is it a favorite bundleware from Dell and HP, it's also part of the bundleware of most makers of motherboards, especially ASUS). Number three is now Trend Micro (the bundleware of choice for router maker Cisco Systems; they are primarily known for non-business users under their Linksys brand).

Sounds like LOTS of competition (much of it free) in the AV space.

The joke is, they are the ones responsible for the majority of malware, Trojans and viruses on the net today. Because they can't seem to lock down the OS out of the box.

It's the Fox guarding the hen house.

RawGutts said,
The joke is, they are the ones responsible for the majority of malware, Trojans and viruses on the net today. Because they can't seem to lock down the OS out of the box.

It's the Fox guarding the hen house.

Are you saying Microsoft distributes malware? Where did you hear that? The OS is locked down fine out of the box after XP. They can't do anything about people that choose to disable the security features.

Alex_The_Cat said,
Microsoft to release an antivirus....that's the best joke i've heard today :))

You may be surprised to hear about how effective OneCare has been in recent tests...

RawGutts said,
The joke is, they are the ones responsible for the majority of malware, Trojans and viruses on the net today. Because they can't seem to lock down the OS out of the box.

It's the Fox guarding the hen house.

Your clueless. MS does not write viruses/malware.

GreyWolfSC said,

Are you saying Microsoft distributes malware? Where did you hear that? The OS is locked down fine out of the box after XP. They can't do anything about people that choose to disable the security features.

No what I am saying is that they have a OS that has security holes in it still, so for people who write malware, virii, trojans etc etc, can exploit it.

So instead of fixing the OS to stop malware, virii and trojans from getting on it in the first place they just turn around and re-write or change the name of the 40 dollar windows live Onecare and give it away because they sure as hell couldn't sell it.

Tell me why would you use a product like this. Written by a company that can't keep security issues off the system in the first place? Why would you trust them? Because it's Microsoft? Because they said so?

The same thing can be said about the Windows Defender product. That product can't even remove a majority of the malware from the OS once it's on the system and they wrote the OS!


RawGutts said,

No what I am saying is that they have a OS that has security holes in it still, so for people who write malware, virii, trojans etc etc, can exploit it.

So instead of fixing the OS to stop malware, virii and trojans from getting on it in the first place they just turn around and re-write or change the name of the 40 dollar windows live Onecare and give it away because they sure as hell couldn't sell it.

Tell me why would you use a product like this. Written by a company that can't keep security issues off the system in the first place? Why would you trust them? Because it's Microsoft? Because they said so?

The same thing can be said about the Windows Defender product. That product can't even remove a majority of the malware from the OS once it's on the system and they wrote the OS!


You do realise that any complex, huge, software system will always have security holes and security issues which need to be improved, right? Even the operating system of your choice will have many - maybe more than Windows. The only reason why more of the security holes are explioted in Windows is because of it's higher market share.

Microsoft are improving the security of its Windows operating system with every release. What more do you expect them to do? It would be impossible to create an operating system that can't be exploited in certain ways.

I'm confused. You think Windows is more vulnerable than other OSes purely at the code level? I'm pretty sure it's been established that Windows' vulnerability is a result of being the primary target of malware authors, and not because the code is inherently more vulnerable.

Linux and MacOS are just as vulnerable, if not moreso, than Windows. The worst responder to exposed vulnerabilities is probably Apple, while Linux may be the quickest. If anything, for Microsoft to respond as well as they do with their position in the market is incredible and a sign of a strong team of programmers.

Alex_The_Cat said,
Microsoft to release an antivirus....that's the best joke i've heard today :))


MS actually has an enterprise AV/anti-malware product called Forefront Client Security.

RawGutts
The joke is, they are the ones responsible for the majority of malware, Trojans and viruses on the net today. Because they can't seem to lock down the OS out of the box.


Windows is not full of security holes anymore, and statements like yours have not been true since the pre-XP SP2 era. The majority of recent exploited issues have been in 3rd party products (like Flash, Java, Adobe Reader, etc...) that, if you have a well-configured Vista/7/Server 2008 box, weren't exploitable at all.

Much of the malware out there comes in the form of trojans. The issue with trojans is it doesn't matter how secure the OS is - if the user gives it access, your system is compromised. That's where MS apps like Windows Defender/OneCare (and now Morro) come in.

I have not run live virus-scanning on my machines in years (though I do run the occasional manual scan), and I use the Internet for hours a day, and I have yet to get a virus. How is this possible if Windows was as insecure as you claim?

Kirkburn said,
You may be surprised to hear about how effective OneCare has been in recent tests...

Those tests are surely "recent" because last time i checked which was couple of months ago OneCare did not perform so well compared to the best on the market.

[edit]

Did some research and seems MS improved OneCare since last time i checked.

Back in February of this year OneCare was still in the middle of the crowd http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2009/...our-winners.ars though.

That's a big turnover in such a small timeframe.

I'll probably try it when my Bitdefender subscribtion will expire if MS keeps on getting good score with its AV solution.

GreyWolfSC said,
Are you saying Microsoft distributes malware?

No, he's saying Microsoft is an enabler of cybercrime because of the insecure software design practices Microsoft employs.

The latest example being the so-called ClickOnce plugin for Firefox which is silently installed with the .NET framework update. MS doesn't even provide an uninstaller! Nice. Real nice. MS is never going to change, that's why they must be sued to get anything fixed.

toadeater said,
The latest example being the so-called ClickOnce plugin for Firefox which is silently installed with the .NET framework update. MS doesn't even provide an uninstaller! Nice. Real nice. MS is never going to change, that's why they must be sued to get anything fixed.

And please tell us what in hell that has to do with malware?

I love it how Microsoft probably won't be allowed to release this, despite it actually helping consumers. The EU will have a field day if they release it in Europe.

troist said,
I love it how Microsoft probably won't be allowed to release this, despite it actually helping consumers. The EU will have a field day if they release it in Europe.


True but if it̢۪s given away free with the Windows Live suite and not bundled with Windows I don̢۪t think the EU could complain either way could they?

InsaneNutter said,
True but if it̢۪s given away free with the Windows Live suite and not bundled with Windows I don̢۪t think the EU could complain either way could they?

Considering other companies are offering free Antivirus software I don't see how they would have any case as long as MS doesn't include it with Windows.
However, it is still the EU...

"however, it is still the EU..."


most of you are so ignorant...

the eu only problem is when ms bundles the software offering no other option to the average regular consumer

idoia said,
"however, it is still the EU..."


most of you are so ignorant...

the eu only problem is when ms bundles the software offering no other option to the average regular consumer


Example of something that wasn't available to regular consumers? Or is the EU just mad because MS didn't paint a huge sign for them on where to find it?

troist said,
I love it how Microsoft probably won't be allowed to release this, despite it actually helping consumers. The EU will have a field day if they release it in Europe.

They just should release it to other nations, problem solved.

Udedenkz said,
They just should release it to other nations, problem solved.

The EU is not a "nation". It is a very large group of countries, comprising hundreds of millions of people.

Not releasing stuff in the EU is generally inconceivable for any company.

statm1 said,
The only ground the EU could have is if it was bundled with Windows. Period.

I have to ask, why is the EU trying to dictate what MS can and can't put in it's product?

Joel said,

Example of something that wasn't available to regular consumers? Or is the EU just mad because MS didn't paint a huge sign for them on where to find it?

I agree. proof that politicians are absolutely stupid. this has be instigated by corporations