Microsoft to Stop Charging For Home PC Security

Posted by: Aaron Ricadela on November 19, 2008

Two years after jumping into the PC security software market, Microsoft is scaling back its ambitions there. The company said Nov. 18 it’s discontinuing its $50-a-year OneCare software in favor of a give-away program due next year called Morro.

Not enough people were signing up for OneCare, sold in year-long subscriptions, says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, which advised Microsoft on the Morro project. “Pay for play was an inhibitor to penetration,” he says. Instead, Microsoft will concentrate on making sure more PC users get protected from viruses and spyware by offering those features free to Windows users. ”That ‘s the higher value,” says Kay.

OneCare also was tightly coupled with a Windows Vista feature called “user account control” that’s driven users crazy with frequent and sometimes mystifying requests for permission before Windows installs or changes programs.

When Microsoft launched OneCare in June 2006, it sent a competitive shiver through security software vendors Symantec and McAfee. Suddenly, the company that supplied Windows was jumping into their market as well. Now, Microsoft is conceding the approach wasn’t working.

Consumers are “frustrated” with security software, says Amy Barzdukas, a senior product management director at Microsoft. While some surveys have shown that 80% of U.S. PC owners say they’re protected from malware, “most of those consumers are confused” by trial versions of programs that ship with their PCs, then expire, she says. In fact, less than 50% of American PC users are safe from malware, and the percentage is even lower in countries like China and Brazil, Barzdukas says. By giving away Morro, Microsoft is trying to “get more customers protected.”

OneCare packaged anti-spyware, anti-virus, plus PC backup and tune-up features into a single piece of software. Microsoft plans to keep selling it through June 2009, and honor consumers’ subscriptions till they expire. In the second half of 2009, it plans to release software currently code-named Morro, designed to run faster on full-fledged PCs and notebooks as well as low-priced, stripped-down “netbooks.” Morro will fight spyware and viruses, and run on machines with Windows XP, Vista, or the upcoming Windows 7 system. But it won’t be able to back up files, defragment a hard drive, or perform other ancillary tasks. The company will continue selling business security programs under the Forefront brand.

Microsoft has long said that when something goes wrong with users’ PCs, they blame the company, right or wrong. And its reputation among consumers has taken some hits the past few years, mostly due to Vista’s complexity and early problems with software compatibility. Giving away an anti-malware program could help batten down more PCs and furnish Microsoft with some goodwill—even if the price is giving up on building a consumer PC security business that could stand on its own.

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Reader Comments

BeirutBomber

November 20, 2008 03:45 AM

It was no surprise that Microsofts Onecare package didn't take off. When you have a package which offers some great things as Onecare did, you also expect them to be user friendly. I think the thorn in the side of Onecare was it's ability to perform a backup routine, which we all want and need so badly, but when the Backup file is encrypted, and you couldn't read it, explore it or delete it, then one would have wondered what it was backing up, really, for all we know it could have been a wonderfull file with a wonderfull filename and no data in its body. That was enough to put me off the product right from the start.Microsoft needs to keep it simple..does Vista ring any bells.

gerrrg

November 20, 2008 07:30 AM

Duh.

I stopped paying for my security software years ago. Free stuff is good enough, and I've only had 3 problems in 10 years.

m.r.

November 20, 2008 07:46 AM

so what! most reviews are negative. there are better free choices such as AVG Free and Avast etc. better AV and anti spam should be part of OS in the first place.
Win 7 should be a solid performer rather than a glitsy show. the PC user is getting tired of same old BS.

john c.

November 20, 2008 08:41 AM

my one care expires before the second half of 2009. how best to fill in till then?

jake

November 20, 2008 10:07 AM

Say goodbye to antivirus companies like Symantec and McAfee. Here we go again with the anti-trust lawsuits. Unbelievable.

CPUDave

November 20, 2008 10:21 AM

People are confused by computer problems because there seems to be no working solutions for them on Windows systems. You make sure to keep it up to date. You buy all of the anti-malware software and keep it up to date. You stay away from unsafe sites and delete unknown emails. You do everything they advise you to do... and none of it works to prevent infections and system crashes on Windows. I have seen every type of OS crash and/or get infected, but Windows systems are the only ones that seem to always having problems. Mac and Linux do crash and/or get infected, but not so frequently as Windows systems do. Microsoft needs to fix this and they are trying to do it with Morro. I hope it works.

Bill R.

November 20, 2008 10:39 AM

OneCare was such typical Microsoft FATWARE I dumped it. I wouldn't install it on a system for free, not if Microsoft paid me $50/year.

PXT

November 20, 2008 10:58 AM

One of the primary functions of an operating system is to secure its resources. Any operating system that doesn't do that is not fit for purpose. That Microsoft's Windows requires its users to buy 3rd party products to complete itself is a testament to the incompetence of Microsoft's engineers who have flooded the world with malware and spam.

Our governments should sue.

Bob M.

November 20, 2008 11:22 AM

what was the point of building an OS without any security...Microsoft is finally on the right track and I believe they should not be bothered by the anti-trust laws since they are obligated to provide security for their systems. Norton, McAfee and such can always go one step beyond the free software that will be provided by Microsoft

wowlfie

November 20, 2008 12:15 PM

You can't charge for something if it's worthless! Windows Defender, Windows built-in firewall, IE and more are all a joke. Microsoft simply does not comprehend security! Never has. Never will. The bottom line is profit profit profit. Not satisfied customers.

Phil S.

November 20, 2008 12:35 PM

I was a PC user for 15 years, then I got a mac... don't have to worry about this crap anymore. I can honestly say it's been amazing not to have my computer slow down every Friday at 5 to start a scan.

melissa

November 20, 2008 12:46 PM

Spybot and Ad-aware are both good security programs. Why should you pay for security, when there are so many good ones out there, that are free?

ethana2

November 20, 2008 12:46 PM

I suppose this is the next best thing to shipping an OS that's _actually secure_.

Matt

November 20, 2008 02:00 PM

I totally agree with PXT. Windows has consistently shown itself to be far less secure than Unix based systems (Mac, Linux, etc) By the way, for those who don't know, UAC is a security joke. People who know what they are doing can (and have) found ways to get their malware around it. I just don't think Microsoft can ever be trusted to provide a serious security solution, not in my book anyways.

ed

November 20, 2008 02:57 PM

There are free AV programs - Some people I know love AVG - I however Prefer Avast antivirus. It has automated updates that pop up and tell you that your Av was updated. I had more virus problems when I used Norton Antivirus( at 75$ a year) than I have ever had with Avast, and Avast is free. You get what you pay for doesnt work regarding antivirus programs. My only advice is try the different ones out and stick with what you like.

Windows Traitor

November 20, 2008 04:25 PM

Why not switch to Mac? Stop wasting time and money battling viruses.

Neil

November 20, 2008 04:59 PM

There are plenty of good free security tools available. Some that I use include:

Javacool Software Spyware Blaster (Get it ONLY from www.javacoolsoftware.com)

Avast Home Edition antivirus

aSquared Free (www.emsisoft.com)

Sygate Personal Firewall (discontinued but still works well)

anonymous

November 20, 2008 05:41 PM


Microsoft should have made Windows secure and protected by default. It is unfortunate that so many spyware and viruses can infect Windows. Microsoft should feel sorry for all those purchased their product in good faith and were victims of scam artists. Microsoft must make very strong and secure operating system. We do not hear such complaints from Linux. Why?

John Grabowski

November 21, 2008 11:58 PM

I agree with so many of the other comments that say switch to Mac. I did a year ago and have never been happier. Haven't seen a virus since, no slow-downs, no bloated systems with tons of temp files that never seem to go away. (Does MS know what the word "temp" means?) Better customer support, faster boot and load times, more elegant interface, smarter interface (the Mac just knows what to do with your peripherals...you don't have to find the apps or the proper drivers when you hook things up or tell the OS what to do with a certain file), you get the picture. I could go on all day. Jobs and Apple make you realize what a joke MS and Gates and Ballmer (and Seinfeld!) are. I wish MS would join Ford and GM and Chrysler and all the other underperforming, overbloated American businesses and go under.

Squeezebox

November 25, 2008 03:38 PM

MS Security is like the fox guarding the henhouse. If the product could be secured, why didn't MS do it earlier? In this case, third party is best.

Mel Ware

November 27, 2008 12:53 PM

This is great news! This feature will definitely improve by brand loyalty. It makes a lot of sense to integrate these features into the core operating system.

Jammit

March 26, 2009 10:31 AM

Humpf..... Had enough.

Everything to do with Microsoft is total bullshit.

Using XP.

Downloaded a file. The EXE name didn't match the program name (duh), I scanned the RAR archive with ESET before decompression and after decompressing it.

I thought well if it's malware, all the security software should catch it.

Within 30 seconds of running the installation file, there was a forced crash and reboot and Windows Defender/ Eset / Spybot S&D, Kerio Firewall, Hijack This - all knocked out.

Couldn't install new versions - AVG, ESET, etc., now getting declared "Not Valid Win32 Applications".

Found 4 different root kits, 2 trojans and a few registry changes....

System restore was crippled - as in it would back date in word only, but nothing would happen.

So I turned that off.

Malware bytes was the only thing that did work - but every time it scanned and caught everything - on reboot, and with another scan it kept on catching the same old new stuff.

So I am using a linux based LIVE CD, called Dr Web to scan my PC.

http://www.freedrweb.com/livecd/

It's been going for 2 days now - through EVERY file in all partitions of my dual boot system.

After many years of MS and it's crapware, I have come to see the Windows Spin as nothing more as a 1000 Lb Gorilla standing in the front door - while the back door and windows are all wide open.

It only took 30 seconds from the time I hit "Install" for these shitty bits of software, to run around the back of the house, through the back door - and walk straight up behind the gorilla - stuck a gun up it's ass and pull the trigger.

Microsoft and it's "toughness" and security" are as impressive as an aircraft breaking in two at 30,000 feet....

That's TWO pieces as in LEFT HALF and RIGHT HALF.

I only moved up to Office 2007 with an old style menu system creator, because under duress - they made finding and getting the PATCHES and UPDATES for Office 2000 - so damned impossible.

I mean aside from some improvements in the way it runs, MS Office 2007 I feel is only worth getting for free.

Most of the improvements should have been as a natural part of the evolution of a single product.

But they decided to go with the "write the new and improved software - by putting an X on the end of *.doc" and make all the stooges follow OUR lead.

But NO MORE.

There is tones of really good linux software available.

I have heaps of Linux stuff and after this "break wide open" - with a complete failure of all the MS and other security software, I am going to harden my linux OS's right up and I am only going to run my legacy MS / windows apps under Virtual Machine.

MS software and it's security - as a matter of design, is all paper tiger.

Given the fact that there are entire industries created around keeping YOUR hard work, that YOU created on this OPERATING SYSTEM, well that kind of spells it all out - at the very outset.

It's like buying a NEW car, and then having to pay a heap more - forever, to keep a fleet of mechanics, a tow truck, several sets of spare parts - being an complete emergency breakdown unit - always following you around.

And I am expected to get into a management meeting for the updates and reinstallation and system scans - with multiple software - because that pays...

I mean I think it would be completely unrealistic to expect a no brainer system of any sort in this day and age, but doesn't MS's unscrupulous practices and HAVING to have an emergency breakdown unit follow you around every where - because the OS's own systems are so prone to failure or can be smashed and broken - because the reliability and invulnerability is non existent?

I mean if people were faced with a car like this, they would never buy it; so why should they keep taking this crap from an irresponsible and unethical company that keeps churning out insecure and unreliable crap?

I woke up to the crap that MS churns out and I figure that with the amount of time I have to spend maintaining my system, because of the problems and potential problems with their initial and ongoing build quality - then a) their software should be FREE, and they should be paying ME to fix and repair and operate it.

Sure it requires much time and effort to learn the intricacies of an entirely NEW operating system, but

a) Almost all of the Linux stuff is excellent.

b) I don't have to spend the rest of my life going around in circles - performing unpaid Microsoft Maintainance Management,

c) And the time I would have kept spending ferreting out the malware that climbs in and hides on my XP system - before I do the online banking etc.,

d) I can now spend on IMPROVING and UPGRADING a rock solid and hardenable OS called Linux.

Using some REALLY incredible software - of which there are some 26,000 bits available - mostly for free.

So IF you want a really secure, stable and excellent operating system - it's all there.

It's secure and stable by default.

And if your keen, you CAN build and or modify it all yourself.... Non of these secret codings in hidden files by Microsoft....


So as of today - It's Bye Bye Microsoft.

Permanently.

Jammit

March 26, 2009 10:54 AM

Humpf..... Had enough.

Everything to do with Microsoft is total bullshit.

Using XP.

Downloaded a file. The EXE name didn't match the program name (duh), I scanned the RAR archive with ESET before decompression and after decompressing it.

I thought well if it's malware, all the security software should catch it.

Within 30 seconds of running the installation file, there was a forced crash and reboot and Windows Defender/ Eset / Spybot S&D, Kerio Firewall, Hijack This - all knocked out.

Couldn't install new versions - AVG, ESET, etc., now getting declared "Not Valid Win32 Applications".

Found 4 different root kits, 2 trojans and a few registry changes....

System restore was crippled - as in it would back date in word only, but nothing would happen.

So I turned that off.

Malware bytes was the only thing that did work - but every time it scanned and caught everything - on reboot, and with another scan it kept on catching the same old new stuff.

So I am using a linux based LIVE CD, called Dr Web to scan my PC.

http://www.freedrweb.com/livecd/

It's been going for 2 days - hope it works.

I have come to see the Windows Spin as nothing more as a 1000 Lb Gorilla standing in the front door - while the back door and windows are all wide open.

It only took 30 seconds from the time I hit "Install" for these ****** bits of software, to run around the back of the house, through the back door - and walk straight up behind the gorilla - stuck a gun up it's ass and pull the trigger.

Microsoft and it's "toughness" and security" are as impressive as an aircraft breaking in two at 30,000 feet....

That's TWO pieces as in LEFT HALF and RIGHT HALF.

I only moved up to Office 2007 with an old style menu system creator, because under duress - they made finding and getting the PATCHES and UPDATES for Office 2000 - so damned impossible.

I mean aside from some improvements in the way it runs, MS Office 2007 I feel is only worth getting for free.

Most of the improvements should have been as a natural part of the evolution of a single product But they decided to write "new and improved software" - by putting an X on the end of *.doc".

But NO MORE.

There is tones of really good linux software available.

I have heaps of Linux stuff and after this "break wide open" - with a complete failure of all the MS and other security software, I am going to harden my linux OS's right up and I am only going to run my legacy MS / windows apps under Virtual Machine.

MS software and it's security - as a matter of design, is all paper tiger.

Given the fact that there are entire industries created around keeping YOUR hard work, that YOU created on this OPERATING SYSTEM, well that kind of spells it all out - at the very outset.

It's like buying a NEW car, and then having to pay a heap more - forever, to keep a fleet of mechanics, a tow truck, several sets of spare parts - being an complete emergency breakdown unit - always following you around.

And I am expected to get into a management meeting for the updates and reinstallation and system scans - with multiple software - because that pays...

I mean I think it would be completely unrealistic to expect a no brainer system of any sort in this day and age, but doesn't MS's unscrupulous practices and HAVING to have an emergency breakdown unit follow you around every where - because the OS's own systems are so prone to failure or can be smashed and broken - because the reliability and invulnerability is non existent?

I mean if people were faced with a car like this, they would never buy it; so why should they keep taking this crap from an irresponsible and unethical company that keeps churning out insecure and unreliable crap?

I woke up to the crap that MS churns out and I figure that with the amount of time I have to spend maintaining my system, because of the problems and potential problems with their initial and ongoing build quality - then a) their software should be FREE, and they should be paying ME to fix and repair and operate it.

Sure it requires much time and effort to learn the intricacies of an entirely NEW operating system, but

a) Almost all of the Linux stuff is excellent.

b) I don't have to spend the rest of my life going around in circles - performing unpaid Microsoft Maintainance Management,

c) And the time I would have kept spending ferreting out the malware that climbs in and hides on my XP system - before I do the online banking etc.,

d) I can now spend on IMPROVING and UPGRADING a rock solid and hardenable OS called Linux.

Using some REALLY incredible software - of which there are some 26,000 bits available - mostly for free.

So IF you want a really secure, stable and excellent operating system - it's all there.

It's secure and stable by default.

And if your keen, you CAN build and or modify it all yourself.... Non of these secret codings in hidden files by Microsoft....


So as of today - It's Bye Bye Microsoft.

Permanently.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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