Microsoft is to launch a free anti-virus product to replace its OneCare software.
Morro is a new consumer security offering focused on core anti-malware protection that will secure against malware including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans.
The company claimed that it needed 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'.
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.
Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the online services and Windows division at Microsoft, said: “Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously. 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.”
Posting in a blog, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “Of course, ‘Morro' will not be the first anti-virus product given away for free to home users. Vendors like AVG and Avira have made security solutions available for the consumer market at no charge for some time in an attempt to raise brand awareness.
“But a free anti-virus program coming from Microsoft is a rather different kettle of fish. They have the brand recognition and marketing muscle to make their free anti-virus software a no-brainer for the average guy in the street.
“And let's face it - anything which encourages Joe User to run up-to-date anti-virus software has to be a good thing. For too long all of us have suffered because of the legions of effectively undefended home computers that have been enlisted into a botnet.
“What will be fascinating is to see if McAfee and Symantec have been caught napping by Microsoft's latest announcement. For years, the two security hippopotamuses were the behemoths of the consumer security pond. They had the opportunity to gobble up the end-user market, and yet still millions of home users were infected by malware, spyware and pop-ups each year. When OneCare is killed off next June, will consumers pay for an equivalent Norton or McAfee product?”