Why Microsoft should push Security Essentials to freeloaders

Microsoft is continually looking for new ways to 'encourage' Windows freeloaders to pay up and go legal, but limiting Microsoft Security Essentials to a 30-day trial is a bad move.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

Microsoft is continually looking for new ways to 'encourage' Windows freeloaders to pay up and go legal, but limiting Microsoft  Security Essentials to a 30-day trial is a bad move.

Winrumors has the details on the new Microsoft Security Essentials update:

The latest update, 2.0.552, has been released to beta testers via Windows Update. The latest beta introduces several enhancements including context menu scanning, heuristic scanning, remove quarantined files after a certain date and the ability to enable a network inspection system to protect against network-based exploits.

Microsoft has also introduced protection mechanisms against the latest Windows 7 activation bypass hacks. A Winrumors reader contacted us to explain that the latest update now bypasses some of the latest techniques that pirates use to avoid purchasing Windows 7. Activation by-passers will be greeted with a warning message stating “Windows did not pass genuine validation.” Users will have to resolve the issue by running a new validation check. If this is not resolve after 30 days the product will be disabled.  The beta, distributed by Windows Update is currently in public beta and is expected to be released in early 2011.

So two things are going on here. First, Microsoft is using the Security Essentials package to 'out' freeloading Windows pirates. Secondly, Microsoft is limiting access to security software to the sorts of people who really need it (people who download and install cracks and so on), which in turn opens up the rest of us to increased hack attacks and spam.

I don't like this. While I support Microsoft in its commitment to give people running 'genuine' Windows rewards in the form of free software, I feel that limiting access to security software is both counterproductive and unhelpful. Having as many systems as possible, both genuine and bootleg, running security software is good not only for the individuals involved, but for the entire Windows ecosystem.

[UPDATE: This in from a Microsoft spokesperson:

Real time protection like that found in Microsoft Security Essentials is a great tool in the fight against known malicious software; however improving the overall health of the ecosystem also requires addressing malware at the distribution source. Driving more systems to genuine has the opportunity to better serve the business and security needs of the ecosystem overall.

Personally, I don't agree, but I guess Microsoft has licenses to sell.]

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