Vista: Antispyware, Yes. Antivirus, No

April 15, 2007 7:44pm CST
Microsoft officials have been saying for quite some time that Windows Vista will ship with antispyware software built into the operating system. But for more than a year, Microsoft's top dogs have been quite clear that Microsoft has no intentions to bundle antivirus software into the product. Despite this seemingly straightforward (at least in our minds) delineation, company watchers were all in a tizzy this week over Windows head honcho Jim Allchin's recent proclamation that there would be no antivirus software bundled with Vista. Several days later, we're still trying to figure out why anyone was surprised by this simple statement of fact. Microsoft has a lot of new security technologies in the pipeline. Windows Antispyware, which Microsoft renamed Windows Defender late last year, was part of the latest (December) Vista Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build. Microsoft seems to be moving steadily toward baking into Vista at least some base level of antispyware software. Microsoft's consumer antivirus offering, known these days as Windows OneCare Live (code- -named way back in the day, "A1") was not expected to be integrated into Longhorn /Vista — at least not since Microsoft floated a trial balloon about the viability of such a plan back in 2003 or so. In fact, the beta of Windows OneCare only works on Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed. Microsoft has been saying for a while now that the OneCare service won't be compatible with Vista. Company officials haven't spelled out explicitly why it won't; our guess is Vista's two -way firewall is incompatible, among other reasons. (Update: Microsoft officials told us after this article was published that Microsoft will do a version of OneCare for Vista users "in the future." A spokeswoman provided no further details on timing or features.) But bundling OneCare into Vista? Not once has any part of OneCare, including the antivirus software that is the crux of the service, been integrated into of any of the Visa CTP or Beta 1 builds of the operating system. There's a third Microsoft security offering that no one's mentioning here: : Windows Client Protection. Windows Client Protection is a security service that will be targeted at enterprise customers that is quite similar to Windows OneCare. Our sources tell us Microsoft is poised to field a first beta of Windows Client Protection in February (we'd bet around the time of the RSA Security conference). When Microsoft officially unveiled last year its plans for Windows Client Protection, company officials said the service would be designed to thwart viruses, spyware and rootkits on XP and Vista systems. Windows Client Protection will be integrated with Active Directory and other "legacy" Microsoft products, such as its Internet Security and Acceleration Server, Windows Update and Windows Software Update Services. Again, Microsoft never said it planned to bundle Windows Client Protection into Vista. Officials didn't say much at all about the company's plans for pricing and distributing the enterprise service. As Web posters far and wide have pointed out, Microsoft brass are well aware that building antivirus software into Vista would likely raise the hackles of antitrust regulators here and abroad. (Why bundling antispyware seems to be OK, on the other hand, is more of a mystery to us.) There's more than just legal repercussions factoring in here. Microsoft sees dollar signs when it sees Windows OneCare and Windows Client Protection. The company is betting that there are users out there who would shell out for someone – even Microsoft – to secure their systems against the insecurities that have plagued Windows and Internet Explorer for years now. Subscription revenue, if you can hook people in, can be far more lucrative than a one-time sale of a shrink-wrapped operating-system bundle. What's your take? Do you think Microsoft is being sufficiently clear about where it's at and where it's going with its anti-malware plans for Vista? If not, do you think Microsoft is clouding the picture intentionally, and why?
1 response
@0888ip (269)
• Romania
16 Apr 07
Woow WIndows Vista.. what a hot subject i can say. I have talked a lot in my area with many of my friends and all of them had only positive thoughts about it. I can say that i was blow off by this new windows system. Some things certainly lack to it but this new look which Microsoft has incorporated in it certainly do the money you would give for it. I have waited this new system for 2 weeks and here i am using it. It was pretty hard for me to buy it because in my area it can't be found. So i had to ask a friend from another part of my country to order me. I am so happy using it and all i have are only words of gratitdue. I post here a short description about VISTA. Windows Vista contains hundreds of new features; some of the most significant include an updated graphical user interface (GUI) and visual style dubbed Windows Aero, improved searching features, new multimedia creation tools such as Windows DVD Maker, and completely redesigned networking, audio, print, and display sub-systems. Vista also aims to increase the level of communication between machines on a home network using peer-to-peer technology, making it easier to share files and digital media between computers and devices. For developers, Vista includes version 3.0 of the .NET Framework out of the box. The .Net Framework makes it significantly easier for developers to write high-quality applications than with the traditional Windows API.