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Security: OneCare a Flop? No Way, Microsoft Says

Redmond says it's replacing its consumer security suite with a free product to provide more protection for Windows users worldwide.

Critics who assert that Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare was less than successful have got it all wrong, according to a top Microsoft security official.

Roger Halbheer, Microsoft's chief security advisor for the Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region, dismissed as "nonsense" the notion that Microsoft's decision to replace OneCare with a free substitute indicates that the consumer security suite had somehow "failed."

Widespread Protection
In November, Microsoft announced that it planned to discontinue OneCare and replace it with a free anti-malware solution, code-named "Morro." OneCare costs just $49.95 per year, but Halbheer wrote in his blog that even that amount is too much for many consumers, especially in newer and arguably poorer markets.

Roger Halbeer
Microsoft's
security advisor
Roger Halbeer
dismisses OneCare Live criticism as "nonsense."

At the same time, "the less mature a market is, the higher is the [malware] infection rate," he said. Consequently, Microsoft opted to switch to a free solution to help provide more widespread protection, he said.

The Windows Live OneCare Team blog echoed that contention, saying that the company was shifting "to a quality, no-cost anti-malware solution for a simple reason: We are committed to helping more consumers in more markets have a reliable, trusted experience on Windows PCs."

'A Capitulation'
While not calling OneCare a failure, an executive from security giant Symantec Corp. described the demise of OneCare as "a capitulation" on Microsoft's part. Rowan Trollope, Symantec's senior vice president of consumer business, also called the decision "a reinforcement of the notion that it's simply not in Microsoft's DNA to provide high-quality, frequently updated security protection."

Retail sales of OneCare will end on June 30, 2009, but Microsoft will support OneCare customers for the life of their subscriptions, according to the Windows Live OneCare Team blog. The free Morro security solution is likely to appear in June, just as OneCare exits the stage.

In a December research report, analysts at the research firm Gartner Inc. noted that because U.S. consumers typically don't flock to free offerings, "we expect the impact of Morro to be minimal, although the impact may be greater in developing economies, where consumers have more limited brand allegiance to security vendors."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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