Sunday, June 14, 2009

Free Anti-virus Software Testing by Microsoft

Microsoft is testing an early draft of its free antivirus software, codenamed Morro. It says a trial version will be publicly released “soon” but didn’t confirm a date.

The firm first announced the project last November promising “comprehensive protection from malware including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans.” It also said the system would be a small download and use minimal system resources – a clear challenge to some memory-hogging commercial rivals.

The package will replace OneCare, Microsoft’s previous paid-for security package which struggled to take market share away from the leading anti-virus software producers. The original timetable was that Morro would be ready sometime in the second half of 2009. It’s possible the release will be time to coincide with Windows 7, allowing enhanced security to be among the system’s selling points.

While the effects of Morro on rival businesses remains to be proven, it’s clearly caused some concern with investors. Stocks in both McAfee and Symantec fell after the announcement, while Microsoft stock rose.

Neither firm seemed concerned about the technical threat, however. Symantec told Reuters that a slimmed-down security system is not adequate for Internet users, while McAfee said it was confident it could compete with any rival given “a level playing field.”

That comment may have been a dig at the possibility of Microsoft bundling Morro with Windows. Although that would seem an obvious business strategy, there’s no indication Microsoft plans to do it. That’s likely because it would almost certainly lead to questions over competition policy...


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