Microsoft has confirmed earlier published reports that Microsoft Security Essentials (codenamed “Morro”), the free antivirus offering that succeeds the now retired non-free Windows Live OneCare, will be released tomorrow, September 29, 2009:
Microsoft today confirmed that it will launch its free security software suite, which has been in development for almost a year, Tuesday morning.
The spokeswoman added that the program will be made available Tuesday morning, Pacific time, although she did not have a specific hour for the launch.
Earlier in the day, Network World‘s John Fontana had been told by Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft’s sever and tools division, that the company would ship the free software Tuesday.
Microsoft has pitched the software as a basic anti-virus, anti-spyware program that consumes less memory and disk space than commercial security suites, like those from vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.
Those companies, however, unanimously dismissed Security Essentials — once codenamed “Morro” — as proof that Microsoft couldn’t compete in the paying market.
That may well be classified as whistling past the graveyard since very little trumps free and if Windows Security Essentials is as good as the beta reviews indicated, the security vendors may have a real problem. I’m still waiting for one or more of them to drop a dime to the antitrust regulators in the US or EU.
If you want to get Windows Security Essentials on day one, keep checking the Microsoft WSE website for the download.
Last November when Microsoft announced they were pulling the plug on Windows Live OneCare (actual last sale date June 30, 2009), they promised a new free antivirus offering for Windows codenamed "Morro" in the 2nd half of 2009. Today, Reuters is reporting that a Morro beta is coming soon:
A Microsoft spokesman said on Wednesday that the world’s biggest software maker is testing an early version of the product with its own employees. Microsoft would "soon" make a trial version, or product beta, available via its website, he added, but declined to provide a specific date.
Microsoft has said that Morro will offer basic features for fighting a wide range of viruses, which would likely make it comparable to low-end consumer products from Symantec and McAfee that cost about $40 per year.
Symantec shares fell 0.5 percent on Nasdaq and McAfee fell 1.3 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, while Microsoft was up 2.1 percent.
Microsoft is billing Morro as a "public service," but I am hard-pressed to believe that will fly. Antitrust regulators – start your engines!
One of the Windows Vista concessions that Microsoft promised the European Union antitrust regulators in October was that they would provide kernel level APIs for third party security software vendors to work with the PatchGuard kernel protection code in 64-bit versions of the operating system. The timeline for creating and delivering those APIs kicked up quite a ruckus, but today Microsoft released a draft and reiterated the promised availability by the time Vista Service Pack 1 ships:
Microsoft Corp. today released draft application programming interfaces designed to allow third-party security products to get around a contentious kernel protection technology in the Vista operating system called PatchGuard.
The draft APIs will be available to security vendors for testing and comment through the end of January. A final version of the APIs will then become available when Microsoft releases Service Pack 1 for Vista sometime in mid-2007, according to Ben Fathi, vice president of development for the Windows Core Operating System.
Microsoft today also released a separate criteria evaluation document that details the processes Microsoft used in evaluating vendor requests for APIs to the Vista kernel. As with the draft APIs, Microsoft is seeking third-party security vendor feedback on its criteria evaluation processes.
McAfee officials said they would comment on Microsoft’s move Tuesday afternoon; Symantec won’t talk about the decision until Friday.
Update, Nov. 22: McAfee is pleased, no comment yet from Symantec.
Ted Kummert, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Security, Access and Solutions Division:
Today we are announcing key security products across the client, server and network edge, which map to our customer promise to help protect information and control access. First, we are excited to announce the public beta for Microsoft Forefront Client Security, a new product that helps protect business desktops, laptops, and server operating systems from viruses, spyware, and other threats. Second, we are announcing two new server security products, Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange Server and Microsoft Forefront Security for SharePoint, which are currently in public beta, and will be available to volume-licensing customers in December. Finally, today we are unveiling new Application Optimization features for the Intelligent Application Gateway, a product included in Microsoft’s acquisition of Whale Communications this year.
While all are of importance, Microsoft Forefront Client Security is drawing the most buzz since it’s a stake pointed right at the heart of the lucrative corporate security market which has heretofore been dominated by Symantec, McAfee, and other third party ISV’s whose relationship with Microsoft has grown so rancorous lately. More information and the Client Security beta download are here.