Vista: Anti-spyware, Yes. Anti-virus, No

Opinion: Why are Microsoft watchers surprised that Microsoft has no plans to integrate anti-virus software into Windows? Redmond sees bigger dollar signs in anti-virus services.

Microsoft officials have been saying for quite some time that Windows Vista will ship with anti-spyware software built into the operating system. But for more than a year, Microsofts top dogs have been quite clear that Microsoft has no intentions to bundle anti-virus 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 Allchins recent proclamation that there would be no anti-virus software bundled with Vista. Several days later, were 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 test build. Microsoft seems to be moving steadily toward baking into Vista at least some base level of anti-spyware software.

Microsofts consumer anti-virus 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 wont be compatible with Vista. Company officials havent spelled out explicitly why it wont; our guess is Vistas two-way firewall is incompatible, among other reasons.

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