Few things caused a stir in the security market from a business perspective in 2008 like Microsoft's decision to phase out Windows Live OneCare. The Microsoft security subscription service will be in replaced by a free, stripped-down product code-named Morro.
From a business perspective, nothing shook up the security
market during 2008 like Microsoft's decision to kill Windows Live OneCare.
When the company announced in November that it would phase
out OneCare in June 2009, observers were quick to call Microsoft's roughly
two-year experiment in the consumer security space a failure.
of course, sees it in a different way. To
Microsoft, the issue is reaching the plethora of people around the world with
low-performance PCs and no anti-malware protection.
"A big complaint that we've heard over the last few
years is that consumers, particularly in a developed market, really don't want
to have a security solution running on their machine that slows down their
machine," said Julie Atalla, director of product marketing for Windows
Live OneCare at Microsoft. "[In] developing markets it's really just not
even an option because the machines can't handle a lot of the security suites
that are out there."
This, Microsoft said, gave birth to the concept of "Morro,"
a stripped-down consumer security product Microsoft will offer for free in the
second half of 2009. Morro is being designed with only anti-malware,
anti-spyware and anti-rootkit features to reduce its footprint and offer basic
protections to users.
Like OneCare and other security programs, Morro will not
play well with other anti-virus engines, Atalla said. Still, if users want to
have Morro as their core anti-malware protection and also use elements of other
security offerings, they can do that, she added.
Unlike OneCare, Morro is not an attempt to compete with
products from the likes of Symantec and McAfee, which offer security suites
with many more capabilities. Just as well, some security analysts said, because
OneCare never made much headway in the market. When OneCare first touched down,
many speculated it would challenge McAfee, Symantec and other traditional
security vendors with a low price. But the service never really materialized as
a force in the security space.
"Microsoft acquired AV technology in 2003 [and] took
three years to bring it to market," said Gartner analyst John Pescatore. "In
2007 [Microsoft] only had .7 percent of consumer AV share and in 2008 announced
they would no longer sell it, they would give the AV part away. That is
definitely not success-Microsoft spent a lot of money on the consumer AV
business and lost a good deal of money. Gartner said back in 2003 that
Microsoft should transform, not just threaten, the AV industry, and I think
what we said back then proved out."
Atalla, of course, had a different take. Refusing to call
OneCare a failure in the market, instead she said it had not met the company's
overall goal of reaching the most vulnerable users-those without any malware
protection at all.
"What we really wanted to focus on with Morro is
getting the rest of consumers protected," Atalla said.