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November 18, 2008

Microsoft dumps OneCare, to offer "Morro" free antivirus software instead

Posted by David Hunter at 8:19 PM ET.

Microsoft says they are pulling the plug on their Windows Live OneCare antivirus package in favor of a free offering code-named "Morro" to be available in the second half of 2009:

To address the growing need for a PC security solution tailored to the demands of emerging markets, smaller PC form factors and rapid increases in the incidence of malware, Microsoft Corp. plans to offer a new consumer security offering focused on core anti-malware protection.

Code-named “Morro,” this streamlined solution will be available in the second half of 2009 and will provide comprehensive protection from malware including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. This new solution, to be offered at no charge to consumers, will be architected for a smaller footprint that will use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs. As part of Microsoft’s move to focus on this simplified offering, the company also announced today that it will discontinue retail sales of its Windows Live OneCare subscription service effective June 30, 2009.

“Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously,” said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft. “This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware.”

Built on Microsoft’s award-winning malware protection engine, “Morro” will take advantage of the same core anti-malware technology that fuels the company’s current line of security products, which have received the VB100 award from Virus Bulletin, Checkmark Certification from West Coast Labs and certification from the International Computer Security Association Labs. 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.

Microsoft is touting this as a public service (particularly in developing nations), but I am sure the competing security software vendors will view it differently. Presumably to reduce complaints, Microsoft is taking great pains to say that they won’t be giving away any of the non-malware fighting functionality that was in OneCare (and typically in competing Internet security suites), but most of that is only marginally useful at best and certainly won’t support the yearly subscription fees that are currently being charged.

I am very sympathetic to this plan, but cannot believe it will not face hostility from antitrust regulators.

More details:

“Morro” will be available as a stand-alone download and offer malware protection for the Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. When used in conjunction with the ongoing security and privacy enhancements of Windows and Internet Explorer, this new solution will offer consumers a robust, no-cost security solution to help protect against the majority of online threats.

Windows Live OneCare will continue to be sold for Windows XP and Windows Vista at retail through June 30, 2009. Direct sales of OneCare will be gradually phased out when “Morro” becomes available. Regardless of their method of purchase, Microsoft will ensure that all current customers remain protected through the life of their subscriptions.

More information is available on the Windows Live OneCare Team Blog at http://windowsonecare.spaces.live.com.

Update: Mary Jo Foley points out some other fallout:

  • 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 mentioned the Equipt consumer subscription offering back in July. Curiouser and curiouser.



Filed under Antitrust, General Business, Governmental Relations, Legal, Microsoft, Morro, Public Relations, Windows Live, Windows Live OneCare

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3 Responses to “Microsoft dumps OneCare, to offer "Morro" free antivirus software instead”

  1. Microsoft’s "Morro" free antivirus software beta coming soon | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] 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 [...]

  2. Microsoft starts limited beta of free antivirus product, Microsoft Security Essentials | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] is that Microsoft Security Essentials is just a spiffed up version of the antivirus portion of Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s failed commercial security package which will no longer be s…. Filed under Beta and CTP, Microsoft, Microsoft Security Essentials, Morro, Windows Live [...]

  3. Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus software to ship Tuesday | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] 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 [...]

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