SBP Blog

Microsoft: Antivirus or not?

Dec 09, 2008 by Doina

Microsoft: Antivirus or not?

For the past few years, Microsoft has been subject to some pretty harsh comments and disputes over its embedded (or not) antivirus solution for Windows OS users. With several attempts throughout the years, consisting of the MSAV from the MS-DOS 6 (1993) until the forms of Windows Live OneCare, the Microsoft mogul didn't really enjoyed much appreciation from the public, as regards to antivirus facilities.

In 2003, after Microsoft acquired the intellectual property rights over the RAV Antivirus from the Romanian company GeCad, things started to spur once again. A lot of conspiracy theories emerged, among which most attempted to demonstrate how Microsoft poses a serious threat to personal security and intimacy of the end-user.

Their market share still has a lot to catch up to other antivirus dedicated companies, like Symantec, McAfee or Trend Micro. Companies like  ESET, the small Slovakian company with their NOD32 antivirus product, or BitDefender from Romanian company SOFTWIN have more image capital than Microsoft has in the anti-malware industry, so it is expected that Microsoft will pursue a great degree of investment in the antivirus product area in order to gain the recognition a "Microsoft" label deserves.

Microsoft's purchase of the Romanian antivirus company has been opposed by many, who mostly argued that RAV was an excellent utility for the Linux platform, especially for web communicators like SendMail, Qmail and Postfix, and after they discontinued the licensing for RAV after the purchase, a lot of open-source advocates rose up to say that this was a blow aimed at Linux reliability, and that users who rely on such an opened source system would have to suffer. That's more like saying, I'm buying your toy, and I'm not letting others play with it, which would only be true if RAV was really non-profit, but that's not the case.

Regardless of the current stall backs Microsoft has or not in coming up with an improved version of the RAV, adapted for Windows users, it is completely absurd to say that they just took RAV away from Linux users and are going to keep it locked up. RAV is an excellent piece of programming (we should know, it's Romanian :)) and will of course, bring a convenient opportunity for Microsoft to shake some market share out of competitors. Morro, the code name for the upcoming Microsoft free antivirus tool, has raised some eyebrows as to why they will go to such an extent to provide users with a free utility. The answers were again, not peachy. Because Microsoft declared that their antivirus solution was intended to aid countries like Brazil, China and India where infection rates are at their lowest points, but were piracy is at its highest, it was obvious to those who wanted to see that this was a method to let Microsoft know who is pirating their software. But anti-counterfeiting methods incorporated in Windows would bring in more negative attitudes then they could ever imagined, and they already know that from Windows Genuine Advantage.

So, Morro could just be the replacement for Windows Live OneCare, who proved to be too costly to maintain, and incorporating in it the RAV technology which is efficient and affordable, as worldwide GeCad resellers have stated. While the overall attitude between resellers was disappointment, because RAV was just getting to become popular and had a promising future, results from Microsoft's development team are to be expected, since when they acquired RAV they also took along some of GeCad 's programmers.

As it is, I wouldn't bet on the general distrust Microsoft's antivirus future solution is receiving from users and critics. After all, they tried it once, twice, but I wouldn't want to be there when they'll announce “Antivirus!” for the third time and big competitors will find chunks of their market share disappearing from under their noses.


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