What will the fallout be from Microsoft Security Essentials?

What will the fallout be from Microsoft Security Essentials?

Summary: Microsoft Security Essentials, the freeware security application from Microsoft, has only been available for download for a few hours and some of you have already been in touch wanting to know what I think the fallout will be from it.

TOPICS: Security, Microsoft

Microsoft Security Essentials, the freeware security application from Microsoft, has only been available for download for a few hours and some of you have already been in touch wanting to know what I think the fallout will be from it.

A free antivirus applications isn't a new thing, but a big player like Microsoft making a security application available for free is bound to cause waves. So, what is the likely fallout?

  • While publicly the major security vendors have been playing things cool, privately they are scrabbling to come up with a decent response.
  • The first response from the big security firms is likely to be a PR/white paper barrage telling us all how good their product is and how rubbish everyone else's is, especially Microsoft's.
  • Following that, I think that a price war is inevitable, although price is a weak point for anyone trying to sell a product when going up against Microsoft's free offering. Still, looking at the price of security software nowadays, there's plenty of wriggle room.
  • Innovation ... you never know, this might be just the catalyst that the security industry needs to start innovating. I just hope it's not innovation that leads to pointless bloat.
  • One area that Microsoft Security Essentials is likely to have an effect on is free antivirus. People who provide unpaid tech support for family and friends are likely to turn to Microsoft Security Essentials as a quick and easy way to provide protection. With Microsoft Security Essentials there's no nag screens, toolbars, and other crapware to worry about.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials doesn't affect the enterprise market at all, so no one is affected there.
  • Expect the security industry to start pushing "security suites" even harder than they do now. This could even be the end of the stand alone antivirus software as we know it.
  • Will Microsoft Security Essentials force some vendors to the wall? I doubt it.

Before I close, I do want to highlight one move that I think was bone-headed on Microsoft's part, and that was requiring users to pass Windows validation before installation. The folks running pirated software are just the folks that need free antivirus. Microsoft shouldn't look at it as giving something for free to those who aren't paying, but as a way of making the web a safer place for those who do pay for their software.


Topics: Security, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • a new antitrust lawsuit

    this is a shining example of monopoly squashing competition on price.
    Linux Geek
    • Incorrect

      as the product isn't being bundled. Additionally if your car maker sold you seat belts prone to failure you wouldn't expect to pay someone else to fix them.
      • However...

        Microsoft has in its update services thingy a direct distribution channel that AV/malware protection companies do not and will never have access to. Well, unless one wants to argue that Microsoft should give access to any/all third party vendors to its download distribution channels.

        So, it's actually quite easy to see these vendors rushing off to whoever they have to see at the DoJ, EC etc to point out the leverage that Microsoft has.
        • Confused.

          Are you referring to Windows Updates? Because the
          only difference is the integration with the OS.
          Any AV/malware software should have an automatic
          update incorporated into their software that to my
          knowledge doesn't give Microsoft a competitive

          I'm just not following the argument here.
        • Actually, you're misinformed

          Microsoft does allow third-parties to have access to Windows/Microsoft Updates, but no software vendors use it, except mostly for drivers (I do recall a Dell QuickLaunch update being available on there as well).
        • Confused^2

          What does Microsoft's "update services thingy" (otherwise known as Windows Update) have anything to do with MSE?

          To get MSE you need to go to the MSE website. Sure, once you've voluntarily downloaded and installed said software you'll get updates through the "update thingy." MS uses it to update all MS software installed in a computer. MS also uses it to suggest software it produces (like Silverlight) in an opt-in fashion; ie, you click the box if you want it, rather than having the "update thingy" check the box by default and forcing you to un-check it if you don't like the software.

          Perhaps you should boycott Apple's "update thingy," since that company actually uses said "update" service to push unwanted, unrequested, and even unnecessary software.

          Oh, and FTR, MS does make its "update thingy" available to third party software. I have downloaded drivers for my video card, as well as updates for non-MS software through it.
        • The users this is aimed at...

          don't even know what security software is, or think the 7 year old copy of Symantec they got for free with their computer is still protecting them.

          Anybody who knows about security will probably still buy a better product, but at least the people who don't know what security software is would get some basic protection - assuming it was pre-installed on new machines, instead of a 3 month trial...
    • Wait!

      So You blast MS for being weak on security but then come up with this when they try and approve the situation.

      Could you linux geeks please get your story straight.
      • Nope they cannot

        because no matter what Microsoft does they will show their hate for MS by posting nonsense.
        • as opposed..

          to posting nonsense about Linux users?

          I am a Linux user, but I disagree with the
          Linux Geek's post. Microsoft is leveraging
          their name in an effort to get people to use
          their free product, but they are not forcing
          anyone to use it. There are still alternatives
          out there, some of them are even free.

          I don't hate Microsoft, nor do I blame them for
          how they do business. I just prefer the
          alternative mostly because the additional
          customization provided allows me to be more
          productive in my day to day activities.

          Also, I believe Microsoft tried to improve the
          situation, not approve the situation.
          • Well then I apologize

            but in my experience you are a rare case. Either that or the trolls are giving people like you a bad name and for that I apologize for jumping to an assumption. I myself am primarily a Microsoft User but Use MacOS, various flavors of Linux and other Open Source solutions in my work life and personal life. I guess I try my best to find the right tool for the job when I can. SO accept my apology.
          • Accepted

            and definitely appreciated. I can understand that
            there are bad apples, and it applies to almost any
            case. So I definitely appreciate and accept your

            It may also be the case that I'm not rare, but
            rather easily drowned out.

          • Clearing up their own mess...

            I think Microsoft have a duty of care to do this. If people then want to buy better protection, let them - I probably still will.

            But the people who don't even know what AV software is, would at least get some basic protection - assuming that it was pre-installed on new machines...
      • M$ is, in part, doing the right thing here

        <i>"So You blast MS for being weak on security but then come up with this when they try and <del>approve</del><ins>improve</ins> the situation."</i>

        I'm a fan of Ubuntu and I see this move by Microsoft as positive. However, I can't understand why M$ is refusing the anti-virus to non legal users of Windows, those are the ones who need it most and M$ is deeply indebted to them because they are keeping Linux from gaining market share faster. I can't understand why M$ does it, all I can do is thank them for doing it.

        The Mentalist
        • Because if they get infected maybe they'll buy a reg copy (nt)

          • I don't think so

            I can't see many Chinese shelling out the equivalent of, what... 8 or 9 dollars? just to buy registration keys for their windows installations. The day they start doing that will no doubt be a freezing day in hell.
            The Mentalist
        • Not entirely

          There are quality pirated copies in the wild that require no key or activation or validation and will pass the genuine windows validation test. So while MS can say it wont work on pirated versions, this isn't actually true as it won't work on SOME, but will work on the good ones.

          "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
    • Competition

      MSE's competition is Free AV/Malware clients such as AVAST and AVG and probably a few others. They are not including this with the OS or making it a mandatory download and since it is optional there is no Anti-Trust. I have read on other forums that some would love to see it included with OS and I would too but that would step on Anti-Trust and anti-competition. So why don't you just find some Linux forum to post your uneducated nonsense on.
    • It's time for you to crawl back under your rock, child. (nt)

    • Message has been deleted.