Vista virus vacuum (and scratchbuilds)

In today's IT Blogwatch, we look at MS Vista minus anti-virus. Not to mention scratchbuilding -- a form of recycling?..

Poor Microsoft. It's damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Oh boo hoo. [Give me back my onion -Ed.] Its new operating system won't come with a virus scanner because MS can make more money selling it separately. Some commentators are up in arms, blaming MS for the virus problem -- but what would today's AV companies say if it were bundled free in Vista?

» Mary Jo Foley  asks, "Why are Microsoft watchers surprised that Microsoft has no plans to integrate antivirus software into Windows? Redmond sees bigger dollar signs in antivirus services ... Despite this seemingly straightforward (at least in our minds) delineation, company watchers were all in a tizzy this week over Windows head honcho Jim Allchin's recent proclamation that there would be no antivirus software bundled with Vista. ... Microsoft seems to be moving steadily toward baking into Vista at least some base level of antispyware software ... Microsoft officials told us after this article was published that Microsoft will do a version of OneCare for Vista users 'in the future' ... Not once has any part of OneCare, including the antivirus software that is the crux of the service, been integrated into of any of the Visa CTP or Beta 1 builds of the operating system ... Our sources tell us Microsoft is poised to field a first beta of Windows Client Protection in February ... Microsoft officially unveiled last year its plans for Windows Client Protection, company officials said the service would be designed to thwart viruses, spyware and rootkits on XP and Vista systems ... Microsoft never said it planned to bundle Windows Client Protection into Vista ... As Web posters far and wide have pointed out, Microsoft brass are well aware that building antivirus software into Vista would likely raise the hackles of antitrust regulators here and abroad ... The company is betting that there are users out there who would shell out for someone -- even Microsoft -- to secure their systems against the insecurities that have plagued Windows and Internet Explorer for years now ... Subscription revenue ... can be far more lucrative than a one-time sale of a shrink-wrapped operating-system bundle." [Here we go -- all hands: brace for conspiracy theory overload! 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...]

» GMSV: "Security is an option, not a feature. That seems to be the mindset up in Redmond these days ... So how are Vista users to shield their machines from Internet-borne malignancies? Why, by purchasing AV protection from Windows OneCare, of course (see 'Nice, stable little system you got here; shame if anything happened to it')! Something to think about  while eager anticipation builds over Blackworm (AKA Nyxem, MyWife or Tearec)"

» Windows Vista Weblog: "According to The Register, Microsoft will 'omit' antivirus services for Windows Vista when it ships. Strange, because you would think that one of the main reasons for upgrading to Vista is security… Why would you pay extra for Windows antivirus? ... Sidebar Geek thinks Microsoft should simply drop Windows OneCare. Get rid of it and port it over to Windows Defender. Users should be able to run Windows Defender on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, and to pick and choose services via Defender in the way of modules."

» Tales from the Techside: "Well that's all folks no antivirus for Windows Vista. Now some will be happy some will be sad, I personally think an integrated anti-virus solution would have been a great security move for Microsoft but a poor business strategy. If they learned anything from their Internet Explorer antitrust, and MSN messenger client cases it is that while an all in one solution is good for the consumer it is anti-competition. With companies scrabbling to sue for rights infringement it is likely that Microsoft wants to shield themselves from unnecessary exposure and I say good on them."

» Nathan Weinberg, Microsoft Insider: "If Microsoft were to release a free antivirus product, it would likely spend years in court with federal and European courts, charged yet again as an evil monopoly. Looked differently: If Microsoft were to release a free antivirus product, it would likely protect hundreds of millions of computers that would have been protected if their OEM Norton subscriptions hadn't expired. I guess it's all about perspective."

» Ankur: "Symantec, though it's assisted inquiries from investigators, has said it would rather take on Microsoft in the marketplace than cry foul to regulators over Microsoft's entry into the consumer anti-virus marketplace. McAfee has made no suggestion it's about to object to Redmond's encroachment on it traditional turf, either. So it seems Microsoft has either decided anti-virus technology is better delivered as a service or else figured out that's a better business model to pursue."

Buffer overflow:

And finally... Scratchbuilding

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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