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Microsoft’s Security Essentials

Microsoft is at it again. This software giant recently released its production version of Security Essentials, a free anti-software and other malicious code detection and eradication program.

Just for the record, this is not the first Microsoft program of this nature. You may remember that about a decade ago Microsoft bought Central Point Software, an anti-virus software vendor. Microsoft’s stated goal was to move into the commercial anti-virus software arena. Something happened, and Microsoft’s goal was not realized.

Next Microsoft entered the commercial anti-virus market with its Live OneCare product. Microsoft marketeers boldly proclaimed the certainty of this product’s success. After all, what product could run on Windows systems better than a product developed by Microsoft itself? Furthermore, who could resist buying from such a dominant software vendor? But (not really to Microsoft’s discredit) Live OneCare never really made a dent in the extremely competitive anti-virus software market.

Windows-based viruses, worms and Trojan horses continue to surface at an alarming rate, something that has caused numerous organizations around the world to avoid Windows products altogether. Microsoft has not sat idly by; instead, to its credit, it has devoted concerted effort to countering the many security-related threats against its products. Microsoft’s Security Essentials is its latest effort. Now Windows users can obtain this vendor’s anti-malware software for free. It all seems too good to be true.

Will Windows users embrace this product? Face it—other anti-virus vendors demand both a purchase and renewal/maintenance price for their products. Microsoft’s new product is in contrast totally free. My guess is that major commercial entities, many of which are not inclined to deviate from their current course, will continue to use Symantec, McAfee, Sophos, Trend Micro, and Kaspersky anti-virus products. What happens with everyday users and smaller entities is, however, not all that certain. Given AVG’s having become commercial, few freeware anti-virus and anti-malware solutions currently remain Going with Microsoft’s new product may thus make sense to numerous small and medium businesses as well as to individual users. I would certainly not want to bet against this possibility.

But the question remains—when is some operating system vendor actually going to build a product with built-in controls against malware, unauthorized access attempts, and other security-related catastrophies? The real answer does not lie in the ability of a vendor to produce anti-malware software; instead, it lies in ability, willingness and investment of resources to build an operating system that is not vulnerable to the scourges that have resulted in so much trouble for Windows systems over the years. So thanks, Microsoft, for Security Essentials, but won’t you also please conider building the mechanisms that are part of this tool directly into each operating systems that you develop?

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