Microsoft Making AntiVirus Free Next Year

Will now really annoy its partners...

Back in May 2005 Microsoft announced OneCare, its own take on an antivirus and antispyware solution. It didn’t do nearly as well as everyone was expecting. Of course there’s are a number of reasons for this and perhaps more important than the fact it wasn’t up to snuff was this: it wasn’t ”free”. Well now…

In a move that many had seen coming for some time Microsoft has turned the tables and announced it will be offering a 100 per cent free security suite providing protection from viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans – or ‘malware’ as the whole lot tends to get grouped these days.

Tentatively named ‘Morro’ it claims to run on a small (unspecified) footprint and require very low (unspecified) computing power making it “ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs”. As part of the strategy shift Microsoft will also be killing off its OneCare subscription service as of 30 June 2009.

“Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously,” said Amy Barzdukas, Senior Director of Product Management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft (these industry job titles are just getting longer and longer aren’t they?!). “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.”

Built on a refined version of the exiting OneCare engine, Morro is essentially we-couldn’t-win-flogging-it-so-we’re-going-to-win-by-giving-it-away marketing. Designed to work with XP, Vista and next year’s Windows 7 I wonder whether Microsoft will have the stones to try bundling its next gen OS. I’m thinking not (in a netbook edition of Windows 7 perhaps) and with existing free solutions like the stripped down versions of the excellent AVG and avast! Morro will still face competition.

That said, I’m guessing Microsoft partners’ AhnLab, Aladdin, ALWIL, BullGuard, Cat, Computer Associates, Dialogue Scanner, Eset, F-Secure, Frisk, GFI, GriSoft, Hauri, Kaspersky, McAfee, MicroWorld, Norman, Panda, Proland, Sophos, Sybari, Symantec, Trend Micro, VirusBuster and Zero-Knowledge are a little more concerned this time around…

…said Gordon Kelly, News Editor of Technology Based Stories In The Internet Age within The Editorial Team of inside the IPC Media publishing division of Time Warner Inc.

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