Microsoft Walks Fine Line on Malware Removal

Opinion: The security software business is better off without Microsoft competing, but are we? Look for the company to proceed guardedly into this market.

Back in DOS 5.0, Microsoft included an anti-virus scanner (a licensed version of Central Points PC Tools scanner). That was Microsofts last entry into the anti-malware market with a real product, back in an era when viruses generally needed floppy disks to spread.

That scanner didnt even make it to DOS 6.0, and here we are, well over a decade later, and things have changed in almost every way.

Malware is a major problem for everyone, a huge industry has grown around fighting it, and Microsoft can no longer include whatever it wishes in its operating systems.

I grow impatient with observers who get mad at Microsoft for not including full-blown anti-virus protection in Windows. Sure, Id like it, too, but theres a big problem with this approach.

If you think including a Web browser with the operating system was anti-competitive (personally, I dont think it was), wait til you see the blood in the streets when they include anti-virus.

Theres no way the government— the anti-virus business is international enough that Microsoft would be in trouble all over the world.

Every ill blamed on Internet Explorer will befall security software. If Microsoft does a good job, then nobody will have a chance because it will be too easy to use the Microsoft solution.

If they do a bad job, a lot of people will still go with the easy Microsoft solution. In either case, Microsoft will be accused of impeding innovation by stealing the market.

Thats why even though Microsoft bought anti-virus company GeCAD more than a year and a half ago, it hasnt actually done anything with it.

Instead, starting this month, Microsoft will begin regular deliveries of malware removal tools, along the lines of the tools it has already delivered for high-profile attacks such as Blaster, MyDoom and JECT.

Next Page: The new tool is anything but a threat to anti-virus products.