Microsoft Kills One Security Suite, Launches Another

onecarelogoMicrosoft announced today that it’s working on a new security suite code-named “Morro.” Um, doesn’t doesn’t the company already have a security suite offering–Windows Live OneCare? Yup, but part of today’s announcement is that it’s planning to discontinue OneCare, which had only been around since May, 2006, on June 30th, 2009. And while OneCare costs $50 a year for up to three computers, Morro will be free.

Why the switch in strategy? Microsoft says that it’s making Morro a mean, lean product that won’t be too piggy when it comes to system resources, and Senior Director of Product Management Amy Barzdukas is quoted in the release as saying “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.”

Which doesn’t really explain why Morro apparently won’t simply be a new version of OneCare, or why free and fee versions can’t coexist. You’ve got to think that it’s in part a confession that OneCare hasn’t been terribly successful in the market place against its competition from McAfee, Symantec and others.

Over at CNET, Ina Fried says that the prospect of a freebie security suite from Microsoft “puts rivals such as McAfee and Symantec in a tough position.” I’m not so sure. The free Windows Defender anti-spyware utility that hails from Redmond doesn’t seem to have inflicted grave competitive damage on third-party security companies. Nor has the firewall that’s built into Windows Vista.

I have no data whatsoever to support this theory, but I sometimes wonder if Microsoft’s reputation for building insecure software lessens the likelihood that its customers will trust the security software it develops. Even if the worst days of Windows security nightmares are behind us, that doesn’t leave anyone with the perception that the name “Microsoft” is synonymous with “ironclad security.”

Anyhow, we don’t know anything about Morro yet other than what little Microsoft revealed today, but I hope it’s good and I’m glad it’s on its way. I don’t think consumers should have to pay to get some minimal level of PC security. And thanks to scourges such as botnets, unprotected PC users put not only themselves at risks but others too. If all Morrow does is meaningfully nudge down the percentage of computers in the world that are vulnerable to attack, it may do more for the world than OneCare ever did.


3 comments

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  1. John November 19, 2008 at 5:23 am #

    I think it’s a great idea. I work for a computer services company in the evening fixing people’s PC’s at their home. 90% of what I do is clean up malware. 99% of those either have no anti-virus or their subscription has lapsed. They get the free 90 days or whatever when they get their new PC then never think about it again. When I point out that their DAT files are over a year old they usually say, “I know but it still scans every week.” I even had one lady tell me that the IT guy at her job told her that her router acts as a firewall so she didn’t need anti virus software. So most users are clueless and the ones that aren’t don’t like spending $50 a year or whatever for McAfee or Symantec.
    In order for this to make a real impact Microsoft will have to do better at marketing. For instance I use Defender and I think it is a great product, however if I were not in the business I would have never heard of it. Microsoft will have to get the word out then maybe it will make a difference in the proliferation of malware. They will also have to deliver what they promise. If it really is lean and does a good job detecting malware then I’ll recommend it without hesitation. I’ve worked on several machines that take 5-10 minutes to fully boot because of Norton. McAfee seems to be a little better but not much.
    This is what I usually recommend:
    Spam gmail account
    AV Avast or AVG
    malware Defender

  2. orcmid November 19, 2008 at 6:25 am #

    I love OneCare and have 3 machines on my subscription. I expect to continue my subscription until its renewal date in 2009, then I’ll see what the options are. By then I will also have my Windows Home Server taking care of the backups that OneCare would do and I will then just have to see what will provide the weekly tune-ups that now happen with OneCare.

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