Microsoft is set to release a beta version of its free antivirus software codenamed Morro. The company intends to patch its own gaping security flaws and wipe out a multi-billion-dollar antivirus software industry in one fell swoop.
No one outside of the Microsoft employees testing the antivirus software has seen the free antivirus software yet. That hasn’t stopped executives at Symantec and McAfee from sweating bullets.
The two largest providers of antivirus software raked in over $3.14 billion combined last year selling paid antivirus and security software for PCs. Even if many enterprise customers decide to stick with these premier offerings, a free solution could drive margins down for both companies.
A McAfee spokesman says the company can compete with anyone, “on a level playing field,” that just isn’t the case. For Microsoft the antivirus solution is a loss leader to sell Windows computers and not it’s primary source of revenue.
The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t have the strongest track records in terms of security. Windows machines are infinitely more vulnerable to virus and malware attacks than their Mac and Linux cousins.
Now Microsoft is announcing a new security product the day after it released a record patch to Windows users. The patch fixed 31 vulnerabilities, 18 of which were deemed critical.
Also pertaining to the issue of credibility is whether Microsoft’s security team is truly independent. Often security researchers push Microsoft to resolve issues before they are exploited by viruses or other malware.
This is the biggest reason that McAfee and Symantec will be around for years to come. Businesses cannot take the risk of using software that hasn’t been independently audited for security or they risk falling behind the hackers trying to exploit their networks.
Many individuals are likely to try Microsoft’s new antivirus program just based on the fact that it’s free. However there are still other free products such as Avast to contend with that are free and independent.