Microsoft kills Windows Live OneCare and Equipt subscription services

Microsoft is discontinuing its paid Windows Live OneCare subscription security service. Microsoft is touting a new, free security service, codenamed "Morro," and due in the second half of 2009, as OneCare's successor. The Microsoft press release and statements on Morro offer some other interesting tidbits.

My ZDNet blogging colleague Ryan Naraine has a post explaining how/when/why Microsoft is discontinuing its paid Windows Live OneCare subscription security service. Microsoft is touting a new, free security service, codenamed "Morro," and due in the second half of 2009, as OneCare's successor.

The Microsoft press release and statements on Morro offer some other interesting tidbits.

  • Microsoft is positioning Morro as targeted at "smaller PC form factors" and "emerging markets" (sounds like netbooks/OLPCs). The Morro security service "will have a smaller footprint that will use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs," the Softies say.
  • "Windows Live OneCare will continue to be sold for Windows XP and Windows Vista at retail through June 30, 2009." Looks like Microsoft is pretty confident Morro will be done by the start of the second half of next year, at the latest.
  • Morro will be a standalone download for XP, Vista and Windows 7, according to Microsoft. If Windows 7 does RTM by Q2/Q3 of 2009, as many are expecting, Morro should be perfectly timed to coincide Win 7's arrival.
  • 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.
  • Windows Live OneCare for Server -- which Microsoft began shipping on November 12, also is dead. A corporate spokesperson confirmed this with the following statement: "Microsoft will continue to support Windows Live OneCare for Server on SBS 2008 through June 30, 2009. Windows Live OneCare for Server subscribers will be supported for the duration of their subscription."

I am really curious what happened here. Microsoft just disrupted a lot of its businesses in order to pull its paid Live OneCare service and replace it with a free Morro one. I asked Microsoft when the decision was made to kill OneCare and got back a no comment.

Anyone have any theories as to why Microsoft made this change?

Update: In case you were wondering what a "morro" is, according to Wikipedia, it's  a "rocky outcrop in the shallow waters of a harbor, often round in shape and sometimes very high." "Rocky" may be the operative word here....