Microsoft today announced plans to kill its Windows Live OneCare PC care and security suite and replace it with a free anti-malware utility.
The new product, code-named "Morro," will be designed for a smaller footprint that will use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs, Microsoft said its surprise announcement.
Retail sales of Windows Live OneCare, which offered non-security PC care features such as printer sharing, data backup and automated PC tune-up, ends on June 30, 2009.
The company said "Morro" will be available in the second half of 2009 and will feature standard anti-malware capabilities to detect viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans.
Morro will use the same home-built malware protection engine that powered Windows Live OneCare.
The new solution will deliver the same core protection against malware as that offered through Microsoft's enterprise solutions, but will not include many of the additional non-security features found in many consumer security suites.
The freebie will be available as a stand-alone download and offer malware protection for the Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems.
UPDATE: Mary-Jo Foley has more, including this nugget:
Microsoft’s Equipt — which Microsoft launched in July of this year — is dead and Microsoft is having to go back and pull copies of Equipt from the channel (Circuit City in the U.S. and DSGI in the U.K.). Microsoft is offering customers a pro-rated refund for the service and allowing purchasers to keep Office Home & Student edition for free forever, Microsoft officials said.
* Disclosure: I work for a company that competes directly with Microsoft's anti-malware offerings.