Should Windows Come With Anti-Virus?

By  |  Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Today, Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials, a basic security suite that competes with such established anti-virus freebies as Avast Home Edition and AVG Free.¬†BetaNews’s Joe Wilcox raises an interesting question about it:

The question: Should Microsoft offer free security software to consumers? Absolutely. There is no choice, and Microsoft would do customers better by fully integrating security software into Windows 7. But Microsoft has enough antitrust problems in Europe to make including antivirus risky business.

Security issues have bedeviled Windows users for around a decade and a half now. And while Microsoft bundles an anti-spyware utility with Windows and tried selling anti-virus software before deciding to give it away.

At first blush, Microsoft giving away Windows anti-virus feels a little like a car company offering airbags as a complementary but optional upgrade rather than simply making them standard. Ultimately, though, I think it’s the right way to go about things: If Windows had built-in anti-virus, it would likely slaughter the market for third-party anti-virus. And years of history tell us that Microsoft products tend to fester when they don’t have active, successful competition (and sometimes even when they do).

Then there’s the matter of anti-trust issues: Even if Microsoft wanted to build anti-virus into Windows, it might be very, very nervous about legal action by Symantec and McAfee and all the other companies who don’t wanted to get Netscaped.

I am, of course, leading up to a T-Poll here:

 
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8 Comments For This Post

  1. joe Says:

    I wish it came with one. What exactly is windows defender anyway? I have used both AVG free and Avast home in the past. I recently upgraded to Avaast PRO but I can think of a million other things that I would rather spend my software dollars on.

  2. JackAZ Says:

    Microsoft has already screwed up the pc operating system; why should they screw up anti-virus software as well. Microsoft’s history of delays in acknowledging vulnerabilities, time to address said vulnerabilities, and latency in publishing patches that didn’t open a whole new slew of vulnerabilities should be proof enough that the last thing the non-spammer, non-malware world needs is Microsoft providing security products.

  3. L1A Says:

    Symantec and McAfee have no right to complain! They are only exploiting the incompetency of Microsoft being able to protect their product. Both companies have been using their scare tactics on Mac users with their Lab Viruses and Trojans to pigeon hole them into their bloated products that slow down their systems. Windows should come with their own anti virus software, free or otherwise, if it’s needed to protect their consumers.

  4. jgoto Says:

    I’ve been using the beta of MSE for a while and even as a free download it should prove to be a big threat to Symantec and McAfee and all other 3rd party AV software.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    You know as well as I do that as soon as Microsoft even thinks about bundling anything above Notepad and Paint in with Windows, people are going to scream “antitrust”.

  6. Matt Sharpe Says:

    Microsoft Security Essentials is truly excellent and I am recommending it to everyone I know.
    However, I voted “No” in the poll, because I believe competition is important. If everyone was using the same AV we would have a monoculture which is inherently less secure.

  7. Phil Says:

    Personally, I would like to see Microsoft take all non-essential components out of the package and offer them as optional add-ons, free or otherwise.

    Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Outlook Express/Windows Mail (which they have done with Windows 7), etc.

    Pare down the OS until it is clean, fast, and secure, then let the consumer decide what components they want to use to personalize their Windows “experience”.

  8. Video maker Says:

    Both companies have been using their scare tactics on Mac users with their Lab Viruses and Trojans to pigeon hole them into their bloated products that slow down their systems. Windows should come with their own anti virus software, free or otherwise, if it's needed to protect their consumers.