Do you trust Microsoft AV? Security Essentials beta tested...

Redmond has released the beta of Morro, or Microsoft Security Essentials. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers and Slashdotters download and dissect the free malware protection program. It raises questions of trust and anti-trust; plus analogies with cars and, yes, Nazis.

By Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher, who has selected these bloggy tidbits for your enjoyment. Not to mention a futuristic movie timeline...

Gregg Keizer rules, dude:

Microsoft's free security software passed a preliminary antivirus exam with flying colors, an independent testing company said [Wednesday]. AV-Test GmbH tested Microsoft Security Essentials, the free software Microsoft launched yesterday in beta, on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, putting it up against nearly 3,200 common viruses, bot Trojans and worms ... culled from the most recent WildList, a list of threats actually actively attacking computers.

AV-Test also measured Security Essentials against a set of in-house false positives to see whether the software mistakenly fingers legitimate files, ... examined the program's anti-rootkit skills and its ability to scrub a system of malware. ... It's likely that Microsoft will deliver Security Essentials before it ships Windows 7, which is slated to debut Oct. 22.

Gareth Halfacree peers into his crystal ball:

The move towards offering a Microsoft-branded anti-virus and anti-spyware solution is likely to anger purveyors of third-party solutions to Windows' foibles, as it represents a likely drain on their revenue stream. The issue is made even worse by the fact that, perhaps surprisingly, Microsoft Security Essentials appears to be receiving generally positive reviews – with companies praising its low memory footprint and high detection rate.

The demand for the product may, however, be dampened by an issue of image: with an anti-virus offering, as it does, a partial solution for issues arising from the Windows codebase, it's somewhat questionable as to whether it's safe to trust a solution from the same source as the originally questionable code.

Ron Schenone offers the inevitable car analogy:

According to the folks at Symantec and AVG ... Microsoft Security Essentials is not enough to protect users from the threats posed by the Internet ... we users need a whole lot more in order to be protected.
These comments remind me of what sales people are always trying to sell us. I recently bought a new car which I thought was expensive enough until the sales people hit me with these insurances. Extended warranty. I guess 3 years, 36k isn’t enough. Price for the policy $1899. Then there was gap insurance. This covers what ever your auto insurance doesn’t cover. Like damage sustained if your car is trampled by a herd of wild Camels. Cost was  $750. Than there was death insurance. The car is paid off if I die. Heh, if I’m dead I don’t give a rats ass what you do with the car. Take it back and ruin my credit. I don’t care people. Cost for this was only $900.

EdIII pulls a Godwin:

[It's like] Hitler's Kosher Hotdogs ... at this point can Microsoft really convince anyone that they are serious about putting out a quality product? I think that is their biggest problem ... Am I really willing to give them the chance with something that important?
In any case it will be interesting if they start shipping Windows with this pre-installed. Then maybe the manufacturers won't be so quick to bundle Norton/McAffee with their products, and that will be fun to watch.

Sponge Bath wonders:

With all that talent, resources, and internal knowledge they should have a slam dunk. Unfortunately I have a lot of distrust built up from over the years about what MS sticks under the hood.

It will take many years of good reviews and endorsements before I feed comfortable that the MS AV does not give any special passes to iffy software from a MS partner, or that the MS firewall will correctly block things from going out when configured to if the originator is an MS component.

geekboy642 has this perspective:

Microsoft ... has a real image problem on their hands. Luckily for Microsoft, the best and the brightest can be wooed by the kind of money they're able to throw around. When they throw their top programmers at a job, the results are stunning, just witness the turnaround from early Vista to the current beta of Windows 7.

Sadly, the end result will be bad for consumers. Other security companies will be badly hurt by the release of this freebie, and MS will go back to sleep, leaving the security marketplace to stagnate like the pre-Firefox browser market stagnated.

So what's your take? Do you trust Redmond for AV?
Get involved: leave a comment.

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter or FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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