I really didn’t think that Microsoft’s beta AV product would necessitate three blogs: it is, after all, just a beta release. However, I was surprised just now to read an article by Mark Mayne of SC Magazine that claims the product is “going head-to-head with a range of AV vendors, from Symantec and McAfee through to AVG and Eset [sic]”, and suggesting that “the market incumbents will be watching this beta with interest, if not concern.”

I’m not surprised at the content of the suggestion: after all, I just touched on it in my previous blog. I’m a little more surprised that it was aired by SC, which actually has roots in the antivirus industry (though you wouldn’t think so to read it now) and usually has a more balanced view of what we now prefer to call the anti-malware industry. So let me tell you (again) why I think those statements are misleading.

Microsoft is already going head-to-head against the rest of the industry in the enterprise market, with a product range that includes anti-malware and much else, but is very definitely not free.

What we’re expecting to see today is a beta test version of a limited product that will eventually be a production version of a free but limited product. That’s not a market that most of us are in. AVG (among others) do have a free (but limited) product: we don’t, though we do have a free online scanner here, as do other vendors. Why do vendors do this? Well, hopefully, some users of free products and services will find that they actually need a full commercial solution and think about upgrading. But it’s also a practical and (at least in part) altruistic issue: it’s better to give something free to people who wouldn’t use a commercial product and reduce their exposure (and everyone else’s) to malware.

However, it seems bizarre to me to suggest a head-to-head between competing free products. Where we’re really in competition is in the product ranges that actually keep us in business, and that’s a much more diverse and complex market sector than Mark is implying.

Director of Malware Intelligence

Author David Harley, ESET

  • viscountalpha

    That’s laughable. If there is one single thing I can say after using microsoft software since Windows 3.0 is that I doubt they can instantly jump into this marketplace and run with the pack. I’m expecting bloated code and slow processes as with most of their OS and software designs.

    We shall see but I’m not banking on Microsoft at all. They still don’t have their $#!T together after all of these years.

  • sunsettech

    I guess I don’t get Microsoft’s line of thinking on this one. Over the years there have been 2 consistencies with them: 1. There is no such thing as free 2. Security is for discussion not implementation. I think they have proven over the years that these are two areas that are foreign to them. When I think about a security package from Microsoft I can’t help but think that if anything it will just add more security holes in the system requiring patch after patch.

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