Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials to small businesses

Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials to small businesses

Summary: In an about-face, Microsoft is now planning to offer its free Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) antivirus/antimalware suite to small businesses, and not just consumers.

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TOPICS: Security, Microsoft, SMBs
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In an about-face, Microsoft is now planning to offer its free Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) antivirus/antimalware software to small businesses, and not just consumers.

Starting in early October, Microsoft will allow small businesses to install MSE on up to 10 PCs for free. If they need antimalware/antivirus for more than 10 PCs, Microsoft is still pushing them to consider its Forefront line of products.

Offering MSE to small businesses is a change in policy. In May of this year, I had a number of small-business customers and partners asking me whether Microsoft would support them using MSE, since the company's position had been that MSE was a consumer-only product. Microsoft execs told me no, repeating that "Microsoft Security Essentials continues to be available for consumers and home-based businesses.  The Microsoft Security Essentials OEM Pre-installation Kit (OPK) was made available to OEM partners as a way to offer a pre-installed security solution on home use PCs."

Microsoft was attempting to push small-business customers -- other than "small-home-based businesses with only a few individually managed PCs" -- to use its paid Forefront line of products. (I'm unclear what today's announcement signifies about Microsoft positioning of Forefront and have asked for a comment. No word back so far.) Microsoft officials say the move has nothing to do with its positioning of Forefront.)

So what's behind today's change? It's partially about small businesses being unable and/or unwilling to pay for security software, the Softies acknowledge. But it's also about licensing.

"This extended availability to small businesses centers on a change to the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) that allows small business customers to legally download the software onto individually managed business PCs," a spokesperson said, via an e-mailed statement.

The line between MSE and Forefront client (and its still-unfinished successor, Forefront Endpoint Protection) has been a bit murky, other than the face MSE is free. Microsoft delivered new betas of both the next release of MSE and Forefront Endpoint Protection in June of this year, with execs committing that both would ship in final form before the end of this calendar year.

The new beta of MSE included Windows Firewall integration (allowing users to turn on or off the Windows Firewall during setup); Internet Explorer integration for additional protection against Web-based attacks; an updated anti-malware engine; and network inspection system functionality to help fend off network-based exploits.

Topics: Security, Microsoft, SMBs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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41 comments
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  • Ouch

    After hearing that, I wonder if Intel still think McAfee was worth paying $7.7bn for...
    guy.gregory
  • Good move...

    Its better to have security than none at all. I have moved all my personal systems to MSE, its just not worth it to pay Symantec or McAfee anymore. With the rave reviews its been getting along with strong protection built in its a good recommendation for those who are just interested in paying for something that should be free or probably built into the OS in the first place.
    Mr. Dee
    • It should, but it can't

      @Mr. Dee

      Thank the Anti-trust folk for that.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

      @0005 , I don't see why it would be an anti-trust issue. They build in and offer lots of products for free including for example the Windows firewall. They aren't trying to destroy competition, they're trying to improve security - and you don't see any anti-trust whining about firewalls. It should be built-in but easy to disable if you prefer another product.
      SMparky
  • How about...

    Do what Ubuntu Linux does for free:
    Provide an iron-clad LSM sandbox for ALL Apps.

    Now, that would make a BIG difference.
    Of course, that isn't going to happen.

    So, why not consider a switch?
    Ubuntu Linux: The safest operating system on the planet.

    I stake my reputation on it.

    Thanks Mary Jo. :)
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • That's Just Great...

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      So, I move to Ubuntu, and every time I go to a tech-industry event, I can walk around trying to figure out where the 1% of Ubuntu-users are. Better yet, every time the presenter shows off a cool new application, I can be the one who yells out..."does it run on Ubuntu?".

      No thanks.
      trickytom3
      • Why would you want to do that?

        Why would you try to figure out where Ubuntu-users are? And every time! Really?<br><br>Most probably they don't give a damn about people like you so why would you want to meet them?<br><br>By the way, I'm wondering, what would you be doing at that-tech industry event? Don't they have enough janitors there already? And that "will work for food" sign you're wearing won't take you far at a tech event.
        OS Reload
      • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

        @trickytom3
        LOL! Great post and its got so much truth to it. All I can say is that he got served!
        Loverock Davidson
        • Loverock is in rare form today. NOT.

          @Loverock Davidson <br><br>Seriously, you were actually more astute when you were over-medicating with DayQuil.<br><br>Now, you've got your pom poms out.<br>Great cheer leading.
          Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • And it gets worse

        @trickytom3 <br><br>Look who's siding with you. Tom, say hello to lovey.<br><br>With "friends" like lovey who needs enemies, hey tom?<br><br>P.S. why don't you lend him one of your "will work for food" signs? I'm sure lovey could use a new one, the one he's wearing is falling apart from overuse.
        OS Reload
    • I love me some spam in the afternoon

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Ok, I lied. Dietrich, cut the spam... Go to the Linux blog to post this.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Wether posted on a Linux blog, a Windows blog or shouted out loud

        or shouted out loud on the street, Dietrich's message is always relevant and by no means it is spam, so

        Why don't you accept it for what it is and stop trying to censor it?
        OS Reload
      • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

        [i]Wether (sic) posted on a Linux blog, a Windows blog or shouted out loud or shouted out loud on the street, Dietrich's message is always relevant and by no means it is spam, so

        Why don't you accept it for what it is and stop trying to censor it? [/i]

        Wow... the pathetic thing is you don't even get the irony in what you wrote.
        Hallowed are the Ori
    • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Quit staking what you do not have. Ubuntu and other linux distros are good and all but they cannot do everything windows can. Your problem is that you do not think outside of your little box and think that because Ubuntu works for you it should work for everyone. You also neglect the fact that if hackers or malware writers saw value in attacking Ubuntu or any other linux distro they would. I am not sure what drugs you are on but clearly they have taken your mind.
      bobiroc
      • Are you friends with Hackers and malware writers?

        @bobiroc
        You know what. That is a specious argument. It won't matter who attempts to write what because when the time comes, AppArmor LSM steps in and denies any privilege escalation.

        That's the whole point of LSM. Or did you miss that?
        Read up on LSM and then form an educated opinion as opposed to spouting some regurgitated story you heard.

        You are too funny.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      How's that sandbox working out for you

      http://www.zdnet.com/news/linux-kernel-exploit-roots-64-bit-machines/467493

      See Linux is not safe from exploits if someone wants to take the time to find them. It is just not many people care to go after the OS because no one really uses it.
      bobiroc
      • You stilll don't get it, do you?

        @bobiroc
        I didn't say Linux has no software defects that may result in exploits.

        I maintain that LSM is your protection for zero-day exploits. A profiled App with LSM simply cannot be exploited.

        Which means you can relax with Ubuntu in the knowledge that any reported exploit will get patched in a timely fashion (days or even the same day reported) and your LSM profiled App is safe from exploit.

        Get it? That is the key difference between Windows and Linux.

        Ubuntu Linux: The safest operating system on the planet.

        I stake my reputation on it.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Yes DTS there's nothing better than watching a totally secure OS with no apps.

      One of these days you might actually have to do something with that computer.

      Anyway I'm sure you and the other Ubuntu user are very happy.
      tonymcs@...
      • One of these days?

        @tonymcs@...
        Oh, you mean when I use Linux at work? Oh yeah, did I forget to mention I use Linux at work?

        Yeh, that's right! :)
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Microsoft does an about-face; offers free Security Essentials suite to small businesses

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>I think it would be much appreciated if you could quit posting this non-sense. You've been posting this crap <u>forever</u> now, and it has done nothing but make you look, quite frankly, idiotic, and fills the boards with spam, your "reputation" has been revealed time and time again to hold little value, and you have been banned countless times for posting threads promoting your business, and off topic crap. <br><br>Clearly the new post over on the security blog has proven you r schtuff to hold little truth. If you wish to continue posting this non-sense, please start a Wordpress blog, but quit posting this non-sense here. <br><br>Thank you.<br>ZDNet Talkbackers
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion