Each new news story gives people yet another reason to distrust Microsoft. So, when it comes to choosing a security vendor, choosing Microsoft starts to seem like a bad idea. After all, if you cant trust the company to write good code in the first place, can you trust the company to provide more code to mitigate bad code?
I know that this is a gross oversimplification, and that antivirus is more about protecting the user from themselves than it is about protecting against external threats (directly at any rate). But people dont think about things that deeply. This is why Microsofts Live OneCare wasnt the raging success that Microsoft thought it would be.
But things are different this time around because Microsoft Security Essentials is a free product. Does this mean the end of consumer antivirus? No, but things will have to change, and change a lot.
If Microsoft Security Essentials is as good as is it seems to be, every Windows user will be entitled to basic malware protection for free. This will put a serious squeeze on companies that are currently selling the same thing for $20 - $30.
These products are going to have to evolve into something that offers the user a lot more. And after all, theres plenty left to do. How about adding a feature that keeps an eye on the systems patch situation (both Windows and third-party ones)? Or highlighting installed apps that contain a vulnerability? Or better network and device management? Or maybe even real-time sand-boxing?
On the positive side (for security vendors) is that very few companies offer only a basic antivirus package. Most offer packages that incorporate firewalls and other security features (such as integration with email clients). However, I still think that security firms are going to have to raise their game.
But what about the trust issue?
Well, because Microsoft Security Essentials is a free product, Microsoft is seen as the good guys, offering customers additional support and making their lives a little easier, as opposed to being opportunistic and cashing in on Windows bugs.
I dont have any figures as to how much malware the average home user encounters in a year, but in my experience its not as much as some people think. (There is a small minority of users that do things that attract malware into their lives, and then theres everyone else). Most people could install Microsoft Security Essentials and happily get on with their lives.
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