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Microsoft To Offer Free Anti-Virus Software

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the another-industry-done-gone dept.

Microsoft 448

Dynamoo writes "The good news is that Microsoft have announced free anti-virus software for consumers, dubbed Morro, available late next year. The bad news is ... well, exactly the same. Although Microsoft's anti-malware products are pretty good, this move could drive many competitors out of business and create a dangerous security monoculture; major rivals will be lawyering up already. On the other hand, many malware infections could be prevented even by basic software. So is this going to be a good or bad thing overall?"

cancel ×


re Hard to decide ... (5, Interesting)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811675)

If it comes free with the OS it will drive away competitors because Joe-sixpack is
not going to spend any money to replace something he got for free, even if it sucks.

On the other hand, if any feature needs to be part of the OS is precisely a form of
protection against malware.

Come to think of it, if MS does a bad job of protecting PCs and drives away
competition on virus protection, maybe the company will finally implode and let other OSes
get a greater market-share.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (5, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811719)

Its illogical. How can you produce a product that attacks things attempting to exploit your holes when you have the ability to patch the holes?

If they sold it, it would be a conflict of interest.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (4, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811751)

Antivirus guards against trojans, too. Not much Microsoft can do to patch if the user is insistent upon running that program (i.e. the security hole is in the meat), but a whole lot of them will sit up and take notice if their antivirus pops up and warns them away.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (4, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811961)

but a whole lot of them will sit up and take notice if their antivirus pops up and warns them away.

You'd think so, but that's simply not the case. In my time as a PC tech. I saw all too many PCs where the user had clicked on something, seen repeated antivirus/anti-spyware warnings and still continued with the installation. Basically, it comes down to an issue of trust. People distrust their antivirus as much as they distrust the random crapware they download from the Internet. So, when the antivirus pops up and tells them, "Hey, this software is going to bring along a virus," they feel safe in ignoring it, since they've seen all too many false alarms for other things (like tracking cookies).

Re:re Hard to decide ... (4, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811983)

Well, I said a lot, not all. Remember, as a PC tech, you've got a locality bias. You're seeing a lot of people whose PCs were infected. The ones who practice safe computing probably don't come in as much.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812023)

Fair point. I do know of a lot of people who haven't bothered running anti-virus in years, and have never been infected because they simply use safe computing practices (like staying diligent with patches, avoiding warez and other suspicious executables, etc.). However, I somehow doubt that this 'Morro' will be targeted towards that demographic.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (-1, Troll)

hagardtroll (562208) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812201)

Do you think the experience of your trojan popping up would disuade you from the intended circumstances having being performed? I really think this mythical "Trojan" would do itself well as to not pop, but rather to fizz, just under the breath of its intended victim. It is curious that when the forum for discussing the opportunistic requiems bally about on the coordinated cicrumstances, no one raises the issue of how delicious the Tranya is. I mean how can this escape our notice? I do relish it quite a bit.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812095)

In the pre-Vista age perhaps, but with UAC and the paranoid level of dialogues in browsers needed to get anything done, Joe Sixpack is going to just click allow, even if that means he has to pay $300 to get his box repaired by the Geek Squad. The problem is, by increasing the amount of warnings, the less likely anyone is going to care about them.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (4, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811729)

It would be a very difficult stretch for MS to sell an anti-virus program for Windows. That would be like selling defective car tires, and then charging extra for the patches.

I don't think that most AV vendors have to worry though; Microsoft's AV division is likely to be as good at plugging security holes and patching exploitable bugs as the rest of the company.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (3, Insightful)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811833)

Yeah it would be like selling a car and including a jack and wheelbrace. Or providing a repair service for your phone in case you drop it.

Or wait... I know... Microsoft could just plug this hole by preventing users from getting admin privileges at all! Also from now on, all data should carry the NOEX bit - wherever it exists - which would be a trivial modification to IP/HDDs/etc. Sucks for anyone that wants to use a compiler - but you just can't be too safe.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811923)

One thing you have to take into consideration is that most people don't understand that Windows is insecure by design. They don't know that until recently security was not something Microsoft gave any consideration to, or that when they did, it was mostly tacked on as an afterthought. All they know is that their computers keep getting slower and slower and eventually they decide to throw it away, buy a newer, faster one and start the cycle over. About all this will mean to them is that their newest computer will come with AV, instead of their having to download and install it. (All too many, of course, don't bother, which is part of the problem.) Assuming that they allow it to update itself, and that it's not simply security theater (Cancel or Allow, anybody?) it might even make their computers last a little longer before they get discarded simply because they need a tune-up.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (3, Informative)

Dan93 (222999) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812055)

They already DO sell antivirus software. Windows Live OneCare [] .

Re:re Hard to decide ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811735)

it will drive away competitors because Joe-sixpack is
not going to spend any money to replace something he got for free

Hell, most non-techinical Windows users I come across think they're still protected by their long-expired trial copy of Norton or Symantec. This can only be a good thing for them, and the rest of us can continue to use nod32/avg/whatever.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811747)

If it comes free with the OS it will drive away competitors because Joe-sixpack is not going to spend any money to replace something he got for free, even if it sucks.

Agreed. If there were to be real competition for OS's then consumers could choose the OS with the best anti-virus and we'd still have competition. Right now, that is not the case though.

On the other hand, if any feature needs to be part of the OS is precisely a form of protection against malware.

Again, I agree that the technology needs to be there, but not necessarily the data. If the DOJ had a clue they'd see this as an antitrust issue and order Microsoft to implement the technology, but open up the whitelist, blacklist, and detection heuristics as an open spec and then require MS sell their service separate from the OS and on even ground with any other company that wanted to compete. Hell, require the data feed to be an open standard so Macs and Linux could implement it and plug in to the same anti-virus blacklist feeds and we'd have some real progress in the industry, for a change.

A BIND for anti-virus? (1)

cwolfsheep (685385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812133)

Probably the most common DNS server out there is BIND, which runs on most computing platforms, and is available for free. If the anti-virus and OS vendors collaborated on something similar to that, then we could have a universal anti-virus that's at least partially open-source and highly-effective.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (1, Interesting)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811875)

This is definitely a good thing for consumers.

If there's any antitrust directives that come out of this, it's that at some later point in the future (if/when the big competitors have disappeared) MS will not be allowed to start charging money for the suite -- it has to remain free.

About the move itself: it gives less people a reason to be running without antivirus sw., it enables more OEMs to sell PCs with AV pre-installed (which will not nag users in 1 month/3 months/1 year/whatever), and OneCare is less likely to use rootkit techniques etc. that symantec and others have used in the past.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812073)

Your assuming that Microsoft is competent and this new software actually does a effective job and continues to do so in the future.

Presumably for windows 7 (2, Interesting)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811885)

Presumably this will only be for Windows 7 as it is to be released around that time too.

They're embracing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811919)


Re:re Hard to decide ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811963)

I've been saying for years the same thing, every desktop OS should have av and anti-spyware protection built in.

I also have no problem with web browser bundling. I just think that for both (av and web browsers) though a vendor can bundle, they should be easy to replace with 3rd party alternatives if the user so wishes.

Re:re Hard to decide ... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812123)

I've been saying for years the same thing, every desktop OS should have av and anti-spyware protection built in.

No. I totally disagree. The OS should be out of the way and not mess with anything. The OS should be patched to a reasonable degree of security and be configured with permissions, limited user accounts and limited applications. Perhaps if this was some F/OSS project it might be ok to build into the OS with, but as MS has shown, they can't do security. They either overload the user with annoying messages at the slightest change (UAC) or totally ignore security (like pre-SP2 XP installs)

About bloody time (4, Insightful)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811687)

That's all I have to say.

Yeah, but (5, Funny)

NoStrings (622372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811697)

Does it run on Linux?

Re:Yeah, but (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811731)

Does it run on Linux?

More importantly, does it make Windows as secure out of the box as Linux?

The real question is... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811703)

...will Morro detect and remove Vista?

Re:The real question is... (1, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811931)

Well a virus is an irritating program that eats up resources, making your computer unstable, interfering with hardware, replicates and repairs itself when you attempt to delete it, and drives you insane.

I can't imagine why someone would describe Windows as a virus.

Re:The real question is... (5, Insightful)

British (51765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811989)

Well a virus is an irritating program that eats up resources, making your computer unstable, interfering with hardware, replicates and repairs itself when you attempt to delete it, and drives you insane.

The sad thing is, a lot of system-tray startup software that insists on self-installing does the same things too. No acrobat, i don't need to be running all the time. You listening, Apple? Heck, a lot of AVG software bogs down the system so much I'm wondering if the cure is worse than the disease.

Re:The real question is... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812199)

Heck, a lot of AVG software bogs down the system so much I'm wondering if the cure is worse than the disease.

I've recently come to the conclusion that it is. I've had my girlfriends, brothers, and mother change to AntiVir since AVG started slowing their machines to a crawl and hooking into their browsers.

Re:The real question is... (1)

SyscRAsH (127068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812047)

you just described Symantec Endpoint Protection

Re:The real question is... (1)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812189)

The real question is .. Will it run on 64 Bit Vista .. Which is where I cant find ONE DECENT DAMNED VIRUS SCANNER that works. Not one. Pissing me off

Microsoft Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811707)

That's right, Microsoft's just the latest to roll they're own distro.

Bad ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811711)

... and the L-Albemarle-Cojimar virus will attack and succeed.

Security vs backwards compatibility (4, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811725)

Microsoft has done enough to break backwards compatibility already. They should just go the whole hog and on their next iteration, do a ground-up security analysis and refactoring of their OS, instead of trying to prevent & remove malware that latches onto existing API problems that some software might use legitimately.

It wouldn't be impossible to give private sandboxes to "legacy" apps that don't use the new secure APIs.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (0, Offtopic)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811813)

Sandboxes for legacy apps will remind consumers that they didn't want to upgrade in the first place.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (2, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811829)

Sandboxes for legacy apps will remind consumers that they didn't want to upgrade in the first place.

Of course, they can't help but upgrade since their new computer came with the new Windows and they're not going to go spend $100 on XP since they already have an OS.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811985)

Not necessarily. As I recall, Apple ran OS 9 apps in a sandboxed/emulated environment after they made the switch to OSX (but before they made the switch to Intel chips), and there wasn't too much complaining.

Of course, I'm not really attuned to the Mac end of this business, so I might just be misinformed.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (4, Interesting)

Nico3d3 (930755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811893)

Couldn't have used better words to describe what I was thinking. Instead of reusing and unsecured platform for every new Windows version, why not start something completly from scratch like Apple did. We were able to use the Classic environnement in OS X when we needed old app compatibility and it didn't cause any security concerns because the OS9 program were running in a sandbox. The Classic environnement disappeared in OS X Leopard but, we can still use Sheepsaver emulator if we really need OS9. It wouldn't be the first time they copy Apple anyway ;-)

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812105)

It wasn't from scratch, although it *was* useful. Legacy compatibility will always be a tough one-- but why should we constantly have to continue to buy upgrades anyway? Why is there a MacOS 10.5? The others were no good? Windows 7-- because the other six sucked?

We want life. We want to extend our investments for as long as its reasonable and especially beyond the tax depreciation life if we can. Free virus software is backhanded at best from Microsoft. Watch it become a target in and of itself.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812249)

MS is going to have to do something like that sooner or later(though I'm guessing it will be actually from scratch, say .net grafted onto one of the minimal NT kernels they keep around); but there is one aspect of a lot of legacy Windows software that will really end up being tricky.

Because of DRM, a lot of software that, for its own operations, has quite modest needs(just ordinary system APIs), also comes with a bunch of extras that are deeply buried in the OS and deliberately paranoid and brittle. In order to support quite a few common and popular programs, a Windows legacy sandbox would have to replicate a legacy windows environment, including provisions for installing kernel drivers and similar.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811949)

Honestly, Microsoft should build upon a BSD-type kernel the way Mac OS X did. They can keep it close-source, and build as much of the Windows API on it as the want, or develop a new API from the ground up. The EU can't bug them about interoperability anymore, the system will be easier to administer and secure, support won't cost Microsoft as much, and backwards compatibility can be handled in sandboxed emulation layers.

It makes entirely too much sense, but Microsoft is so worried about appearance and killing companies like Apple and Google that they'd never take such a logical step.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812005)

The NT kernel isn't the problem really. They don't need a new kernel, they just need far better auditing of the attendant software that surrounds it.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25812159)

The NT kernel isn't the problem really.

Exactly. The NT kernel is actually really, really good. I am sure that within Microsoft, the people who engineer the kernel probably despise the user interface people.

Re:Security vs backwards compatibility (3, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812175)

Isn't this what OSX currently does - not for classic, but for windows via parallels, virtualbox, vmware, ... Windows apps are the "legacy".

For Microsoft to inflict so much native breakage on the app base would cut off their own air supply. A marketing decision by Apple to unbundle OSX, or a Linux distro would have the same footing as Windows. Microsoft would have to compete for the first time in 25 years. I really doubt they would take the risk.

To natively maintain the current APIs may not be possible without maintaining huge vulnerabilities. Maybe it is, but obviously it wasn't originally understood and I doubt it 13 years of security hacks have helped that understanding.

Anti-virus software may be the only marketable solution, but is always one step behind.

Decent free stuff already available (3, Informative)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811733)

I've used both Avast and AVG freeware products with good results. Zero infections over the last couple of years.

As a consumer, it sure would be nice to have the OS actually ship with something that keeps the naughty people out, but there are a number of freely available alternatives already. [] []

'course, if you use Linux then you can probably safely ignore the threat for now.


Re:Decent free stuff already available (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811785)

Have you had any cases of something attempting to install itself?

I run AVG, but all it has done is quarantine a few files that it didn't like, that were not threats.

Re:Decent free stuff already available (2, Interesting)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812009)

I had enjoyed AVG even though I didn't frequent sites or normally present infectable machines to the Internet. However, with their latest version (v8), I've found this to be the case as well, it quarantines legitimate files. Specifically, a program I used with nLite to create add-in programs for build CD's was flagged as dangerous and to be quarantined. I sent it in and AVG basically told me it was detected properly.

I've uninstalled AVG and don't plan to look at it for AV protection in the future.

Re:Decent free stuff already available (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811853)

I haven't used a virus scanner and have also detected zero infections. Avast & AVG both score the usual 80-90% of new threats, which is why I can't be bothered running them.

Re:Decent free stuff already available (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811937)

If you can't be bothered with onaccess scanning, try clamwin. Its very good for checking suspicious files.

Internet Explorer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811737)

Didn't microsoft get pegged for something similar with internet explorer?

Re:Internet Explorer (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812109)

You do realize what getting "pegged [] " means, right?

The tag says it: fuckno. (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811739)

Microsoft has long had the strategy that "We don't need to do that... we are creating a rich fertile ground for third-party developers."

(Which of course brings up: if they create rich fertile soil, what does that make them? But I digress...)

Then, as Microsoft so famously does, it reverses its strategy and promises to partners, when it becomes convenient for them.

The free products are probably better anyway. Sorry, Microsoft, but you are reduced to catering only to fools. Admittedly, that is a rather large market.

Won't hurt competition. (3, Interesting)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811741)

There are already a handful of free options available (AVG, Avast, etc), and they haven't stopped Symantec from raking in the bucks.

Re:Won't hurt competition. (3, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812059)

Don't listen to parent, his "free" options are a sham.

For example, somebody suggested the Clam AV for Windows and it all it did was turn my screen into a black box [] with gibberish in it. If it wasn't for my swift hard reset, CLAM AV may have broken my computer!

I hate to say it but: (2, Insightful)

Vandilizer (201798) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811759)

I know they are not making their O/S's more secure, but isn't anything they do to reduce malware a good thing. Aren't these other companies only existent because of Microsoft's poor quality in the fist place?

1) Find a company that make a product with a defect
2) Make a process for improving the flaw
3) Sue when they try to fix the flaw
4) Profit for life?

Re:I hate to say it but: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811845)

That's just it, they aren't fixing the flaws, their just providing they're own Spackle and ruining the market for other Spackle dealers

Oh Yeah? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811761)

When will they release well thought out and secure software that doesn't need anti-virus software?

Re:Oh Yeah? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811841)

As soon as you provide users who won't click on somefamouspersonnaked.exe. Let's not lie to ourselves and say that if we put the same dumb users in front of say an Ubuntu install that they wouldn't click on somefamouspersonnaked.deb or something. They'd give sudo their password too.

Bring the users who won't do shit like that, adn then we will all have software that doesn't need anti-virus.

Re:Oh Yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811939)

When nobody is capable of running it. The most common vector of attack for any Windows box is the user. If you can convince the user to run it then you have taken over a context which gives you fairly wide rights, certainly enough to launch a spambot that can start self-replicating. No OS is immune to this vulnerability, although Windows Vista probably goes the furthest of all OSes to lock it down.

Department of Redundancy Department (1)

DoctorFury (1410257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811775)

"...making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs." That can't run the higher iterations of Microsoft anyway. I'm glad they've decided to protect 3.1, I was concerned that someone could hack my ARCHIE search query history.

Er... (1)

soniCron88 (870042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811781)

"...major rivals will be lawyering up already."

Interesting mix of tenses.

My thanks (5, Funny)

cyrus0 (1288340) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811783)

That reminds me, I need to put duct tape over all the rust on my car. Thing should hold up like a champ!

It will fail.. like the Morro Castle (3, Insightful)

neonux (1000992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811831)

From Wikipedia [] :

Built initially in 1589 in response to raids on Havana harbor, el Morro protected the mouth of the harbor with a chain being strung out across the to the fort at La Punta. It first saw action in the 1762 British expedition against Cuba when Lord Albemarle landed in Cojimar and attacked the fort defended by Luis Vicente de Velasco e Isla from its rear. It fell because the English could command the high ground

A golden oppourtunity... to fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811843)

Microsoft probably thinks that this is a great way to compete with other, more intrinsically secure operating systems.

Having basic security provided by a bunch of third-party vendors has never been a good thing for windows. A lot of antivirus suites today are so kludgey that it's hard to tell whether they are working or not. A good antivirus program built into the operating system would give windows some level of parity with other major operating systems. (speaking strictly in terms of functionality, of course.)

A bad one, on the other hand, could indeed make the whole system more insecure, by driving competitors out of business and giving malware writers one unified target to aim for. Though I don't think things could get much worse than the confused, mess that is the modern antivirus market. This has always been one of the main reasons I run Linux: Paying a monthly fee to keep my operating system unmolested because the programmers couldn't get their act together feels too much like extortion.

More competition in this sector may be good. Or? (4, Informative)

Surreal Puppet (1408635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811847)

The antivirus market is, as everyone knows, the most FUD-filled part of the security industry. The effectiveness of different antivirus products is largely anecdotal, and shifts rapidly because of the arms race between virus writers and antivirus manufacturers. As it stands now, even "expert" end user cannot ascertain the relative effectiveness of the suites, and because antivirus products are still heuristics-based with a few "depacker" routines built in, they only catch the really obvious fish. (One funny thing with this is, if you pack an executable with a common yet relatively complicated packer, say "redeye", it'l get caught, but if you just jump in and jumble up the instructions with a debugger you can make it "invisible" easily). Because of this reliance on FUD to sell, and because there *is* already fierce competition in the antivirus market, maybe this won't change much, unless MS locks other vendors out somehow. Or will it be a different form of competition, because of the now-asymmetrical playing field? MS has an advantage in that they have access to the code and people who wrote the code, and designed the OS architecture.

Odds are... (5, Insightful)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811851)

1. It will probably go the way of Movie Maker, Windows Mail, and a few other apps that are now optional downloads.

2. It will be a basic virus scanner and will probably not replace NOD32 or another fully featured scanner.

3. Webroot seems to be doing just fine even though Windows Defender has been around for a few years now. Same for Spybot, Ad-Aware, and any number of other apps.

4. Compounded with #3, Microsoft Antivirus will be entering a well established field with plenty of household name competitors. Norton and McAffee are well known names that most consumers know and will probably opt for (quality of software notwithstanding).

5. Many smaller firms (Kaspersky comes to mind) have consumers as their small-fry and make their big bucks off volume licenses. It appears that Morro isn't competing here.

6. Whether accurate or not, perception or reality, many people consider Microsoft Security Solutions to be an oxymoron. So long as it can be uninstalled, people will be free to add their own antivirus software (see point #4).


Re:Odds are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25812221)

Also, MS already has a built-in firewall with the later XP service packs and Vista. That hasn't stopped anyone from selling firewall software, especially at a corporate level.

because most anti-virus is useless and expensive (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811857)

In this case, the reason most anti-virus software will leave is that anti-virus software seems to be very difficult to write and maintain. Most of the software cause unwanted side effects, various interruptions to productivity, and other negative factors. Since anti-virus software uniformly sucks, one might as well use the free sucky software from MS.

That is if it works. Windows defender, in my experience, does not work nearly well enough. I have it on my MS Windows computers because it is installed by default by MS. I still run spybot to actually protect the machine. My fear is that MS is not going to that good of a job, but people are going to feel that the MS protection is enough, and not lay in that second line of defense. Maybe the company that built all the security holes is the best to build the defense against them. Maybe not.

Morro? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811867)

More like, Morr-o'the same!

free is a bit misleading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811881)

When they couldn't manage to actually sell their own antivirus software.

Buying branded software from them is like having sex with the local crack hore. Sure, it works but there's an STD in there somewhere.

Shouldn't be 'bundled' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811899)

It shouldn't be installed by default, but rather as an optional install from windows update or something.

now free: kludge fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811903)

So let me get this straight MS is now offering "free" add-on that kludge-fixes a long standing basic flaw with Windows.

If this becomes flame bait then things are really that bad.

Makes sense (1, Offtopic)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811913)

Who do you trust? People who come in from all over the place with their "security experience" who build antivirus software that can protect against exploitation of all the security holes in Microsoft products, or the people who develop the Microsoft products that have those holes in them?

I say stay with the people who know the holes best, and who knows a child better than its parent? Microsoft!

Only (1, Insightful)

arazor (55656) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811935)

It's only a bad thing if the software does not work. I want MS to fail as to do most of us but they seeing as they contract out that anti malware software the anti virus software will probably be at least semi-decent.

Souldn't be needed, but... (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811941)

Anti-virus really shouldn't be needed (Obligatory XKCD [] ), but if they are going to offer the updates for free as well, that could be a good thing.

It could also be a very bad thing, since it would lead to a near monoculture of OS+antivirus, so you only have to crack one platform and the associated antivirus to write a virus, and don't really have to worry about other antivirus software products.

Antivirus is "enumerate the bad" which generally doesn't work well, instead of having a whitelist of acceptable software.

Is it a vacuum cleaner? (1, Funny)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811947)

No? Then it's gonna suck.

Hilarity ensues (4, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811973)

The opportunities for humor start here and go on forever. I guess we might as well start:

"My God! Its full of fails!" "Like buying antibiotics from the hooker." "TrunkMonkey equipped with chair." "Would you like Warez with that?" "Antivirus vendors: Oooh. That's what 'gold partner' means!" "Hi, I'm a Mac ... and I'm a PC (achoo)." Good Lord this stuff writes itself. Hold on while I microwave some popcorn.

Wait... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25811987)

So let me get this straight. Microsoft is essentially patching vulnerabilities in their software, thus removing a niche that has been cosily occupied by various antivirus application providers since square one.

Where's the conflict of interest? AV companies made the business decision to place themselves in a position entirely dependant on another company's mistakes. Latter company fixes said mistakes, niche disappears, former companies are shit out of luck. It was their poor business decision in the first place. Tough cookies.

I think this will improve AV quality (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811995)

There is already free AV software, yet the commercial vendors are still in business. In fact, the quality of commercial offerings seems to be dropping to a really low level recently, so the free stuff cannot be much of a threat. Knowing Microsoft, their free stuff will also not perform well (even their paid for stuff is mediocre at besst and that across the board) but many people will be usiong it as default. I think this ia actually a good thing and it will force AV vendors to clean up their act and offer good protection and usability once more in order to be significantly better than the MS offerting. About time.

Good Grief (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25811997)

This is a clear anti-trust violation. Whatever the explanation for this move, the fact is that for the better part of two decades an industry has been built out of the security flaws in Microsoft operating systems, and now, as if a replay of the whole Internet Explorer-Netscape debacle, Microsoft is giving away a product where competition with for-pay products currently have a share.

But the economic woes that will preoccupy most governments will let them get away with this, where in fact Microsoft should be threatened with fines so massive that Steve Ballmer might even put down that chair.

Free Antivirus From The Leaders In Virus Infection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25812003)

OOH me me me!! I want my copy!!!! Not no but HELL FUCKING NO.

Trust issues (2, Interesting)

Krakadoom (1407635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812007)

There are two issues here. Will it really change business for the companies who already give away their home use software for free - ie. the ones who make their money on business solutions? I doubt most businesses would be content with whatever MS offers up. Second, will people trust MS, a company who makes wildly insecure software, to provide anti-virus software??

Netscape Part Deux (1, Offtopic)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812027)

In the beginning there was windows and Netscape.
Then MSFT decided to include their own browser, and most users didn't think they needed _another_ browser, so they stuck with IE.
Eventually, Netscape ceased to exist.
IE stagnated for years and this led us to Firefox.
Most users still use IE (70%) []

Will McAfee go down the same roads at Netscape? Will the average user go out and buy McAfee when Microsoft's might just be "good enough"?

anti-MS already? (3, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812037)

It's free. If ANY other company (Apple, HP, anyone) decided they were going to release free antivirus software, anti-malware, blah blah blah, it'd probably be a good thing. MS does it and it can't be good, they're just fixing their own software, it is their own fault to begin with, etc. One would think we'd have gotten at least more creative at blasting MS.

On a more constructive note, it doesn't matter if MS ships it free with Windows. IE ships free with Windows, Safari ships free with Mac, Konqueror ships free, etc. The user that doesn't know any better to begin with is not going to go out and look for the best (out of 25) anti-virus and anti-malware solution possible. The user that doesn't know any better will use what Windows comes with. So what's wrong with MS providing free software with it's own product? Nobody seems to gripe about Konqueror being default in KDE, even though I presonally dislike it as a web browser.

Now, if they do other shady things like make it hard to uninstall, or whatever, that's different. But "free anti-virus software" and "shipped with Windows" in the same sentence doesn't mean we should get out a Gates-shaped guillotine.

Re:anti-MS already? (1)

codename.matrix (889422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812103)

Exactly. As long as Microsoft makes it easy to uninstall and switch to other tools and for OEMs to install an alternative there is no problem.

Not such a shame... (2, Informative)

basicio (1316109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812067)

Driving out the big players in the commercial antivirus market will do consumers a world of good. If you've had to use a computer infected with Norton or Symantec antivirus anytime in the past few years you'll know what I mean.

Pleading guilty? (1)

Doldonius (754336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812091)

Did I read this right? Finally, they've confessed in public that they cannot, just cannot make an OS even remotely secure by design?


No need to call it an "AV program" (2, Insightful)

imneverwrong (1303895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812093)

Make it a feature of the OS that it will flag trojans and malware. Nothing to install or configure, it just does it. Virus signature updates just get installed transparently via Windows Updates. Savvy users can opt-out, just like they can with UAC and Windows Firewall. If anyone does need "extra-strength protection", they can go ahead and install whatever they like.

As to the wider issue of anti-trust; you can't complain that the OS is insecure, and then complain that steps MS takes to secure it are an abuse of their monopoly power.

This might even work well enough that botnets will dwindle as systems become more secure. The only people who might lose, are AV companies. Tough. You're not *entitled* to the AV market. And I've seen enough pushy sales tactics and ineffective programs *cough*Nortons*cough* to have little sympathy.

Well it's about time! (1)

HoppyChris (1310725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812099)

It's been ages since the signatures were updated in MSAV. I was sort of hoping they'd just increment the version number on MSAV and see how many people actually remembered the old gem from DOS 6.2.

It's a trap! (3, Insightful)

russlar (1122455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812101)

MS releasing free A/V software... again? Wasn't Windows Defender "anti-virus" software?

And what to you do when someone finds and exploits a security hole in what many users will use as their sole means of computer protection?

I've got a bad feeling about this...

Why now? (2, Interesting)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812113)

It's obvious why they are offering / integrating an AV product.

But it's been how many years now that they've really had the reputation for ... requiring an antivirus? since windows 3.1? Windows 95?

Why are they doing this now? Did they just now get the guts to roll out an AV since the whole integrated IE issue? What was the trigger point, really? How long have they been working on it? Are they giving up on the likes of AVG, Avast, Norton and McAfee? (I know I gave up on the latter 2 back in 2000, 2001, personally)

Is it because they think they can do it better? Are they realizing that Norton and McAfee are CRIPPLING their operating system, giving them an even worse reputation?

I guess it ISN'T so obvious why.

Like many slashdotters, I'm "The Guy" people come to and ask questions like "Which Antivirus should I use? Why is my cupholder broken? Can you help me dust off my 386 and put it on the interwebs? Why is XP slow when I have 64 megs of ram on my celeron 233?" I need to know why MS is doing this and if it is any good.

All Non-MS-Approved software dubbed trojan (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812151)

I use to use Norton, but have stopped since it keeps flagging tools I know aren't infected as virulent. Giving MS the power to decide what can and can't run on your machine in this way sounds like bad news to me.

Alternatively... (1)

kevind23 (1296253) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812157)

Or they could, y'know, fix the damned exploits in the first place.

Re:Alternatively... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812205)


They finally figured out step 2

1. Release crappy OS with security holes up the wazoo
2. *Release antivirus to patch said holes*
3. Profit!

Great. Even more ubiquitous system sapping CRUFT. (1)

adageable (972913) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812171)

How long has it been since you've had your well-patched system infected by something self-propagating (read: something you didn't run that you shouldn't have)?

Has anyone actually looked at what most anti-virus software does? If you look in a directory using Windows Explorer... yup, that's right, you scan every file in the directory. If there are zip files in that directory, yup, they are unzipped. If you have JAR's or WAR's... the same thing.

Don't even think about moving quickly today, you probably spend over half of your computing power on virus scanning the same stupid dll's... over and over.

Anti-virus software is a complete SCAM.

Do yourself a favor if you use anti-virus... download filemon from sysinternals, and run it constantly for a day. See how much your own virus scan slows you down. Your computer is NOT slow... your virus scan is.

Here's another one that just about killed me with McAfee... I was trying to find out why delete operations were taking so long when I was performing large clean, build, and deploy tasks in Eclipse... it takes your system certainly less than a second to delete an 80 MB WAR file in Java... however, with McAfee enabled under default scanning on-access rules, it takes me about 15 seconds to delete that file. Because it must first be scanned as a virus.

Who writes this stuff? Virus scan is for people how only use computers for reading email (and downloading the latest virus / Jessica Simpson porn) or your parents.

If you feel differently about your virus scan product, run filemon.exe for a day. You'll realize that (1) your system is bound by disk IO, not CPU and (2) your system isn't slow, your virus scan product is.


Keep your Windows Update (or Mac-based Software Update) actually up to date, and you've got precious little to worry about.

Finally! (1)

Viree (214760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812209)

I want to thank the author for this great news! Boy, I can't even begin to tell you how excited this is going to be! I switched to Linux many years ago since there weren't any decent anti-virus program out there. I am now going to make the switch back to Windows. Finally! Yee haa!

Typo (1)

Viree (214760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812237)

"...Microsoft have announced free anti-virus software for consumers, dubbed Morro, available ..."

You misspelled moron...oh wait!

More malware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25812251)

Vista's enough crapware from MS for me. I don't need them to make more...


If it is anything like their firewall... (1)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 5 years ago | (#25812253)

Than software will be able to tell the Anti-Virus "I am not a virus" without the hassle of asking the computer owner what to do...

Just like how software can tell the Windows Firewall to just let them online. It kind of eliminates the whole reason for a firewall!

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