A couple of years buggering about until an anti-malware election screen is forced upon MS.
Panda Security has joined with Trend Micro in attacking Microsoft for offering its Security Essentials freebie security scanner as an automatic download. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) has been available for more than a year, but it only began offering the software via its software update mechanism last month. The …
Anti-virus vendors (who keep telling us that we ought to have anti-virus software on our machines) are complaining that MS warn us if we haven't got anti-virus software and suggest a solution.
I would have assumed that this played into their hands....
One installs the MS software, finds that it isn't very good and decides to replace it with a one of their offerings.
My ideal AV software is one which does what it's supposed to, doesn't destablize the system, and stays the hell out of the way as much as it can. So far MS Antivirus has fit that role perfectly for me. The UI is minimalist, the program rarely even shows it's there except the odd occasions it might detect something, usually an email attachment. Being free is the icing on the cake.
My experience of 3rd party AV software usually ends in tears. Either they hog too much CPU, nag me too much, or come with arcane or bloated UIs which are a chore to navigate and use. I'm especially pissed off with Norton which seems to be preinstalled as crapware on new PCs these days and almost immediately starts nagging and trying to scare users to subscribe. Crapware / scareware might not be as bad as malware but it's a point on the same line of nuisance software.
"The download is only offered to Windows users who aren't already running anti-virus software."
Not true, on a recent virus riddled PC, McAffee was installed (no surprise there) and after the clean up, but before uninstalling McAffee, MSE was offered as an optional download.
I wanted to get rid of McAffee and install MSE anyway, but just pointing out that it does get offered even with a virus checker installed.
If someone does not have an anti-virus platform installed by the time they've been using a computer long enough for Windows Update to kick in then they're probably unlikely to ever get one. In that case, I see absolutely nothing wrong with MS pushing one out. Even a MS product is going to be better than nothing and if it helps keep the worst of the nasties out then all the better.
it's not like the kerfuffle over browsers or media players after all.
It's for protecting users of their operating systems. Their patches, Windows Defender and their Malicious Software Removal Tool have been doing this for a while already, I have no issue with MS taking more steps to do this.
Have been running Security Essentials for several months and love the lack of bloat that Symantec et al seem to offer these days.
Anyone remember the day of Sygate and its ilk with addon computer firewalls of yore? Once Windows bundled a firewall in XP SP2 (which IMHO is part of an OS anyway) who protested? Might as well complain MS includes Wordpad which is "unfair" to the text editors of the world. Bundling "Edit" in the cmd prompt is unfair to VI and Emacs. Providing Windows Media Player is unfair to iTunes and WinAmp.
Regardless, if MSE proves worthless (and it will be deemed so by the user the first time their computer gets infected and MSE fails to prevent such), then other AVs will be sought out. With the stipulation of being installed from Microsoft Update (which is not a trivial thing to get enrolled in for the lay user who doesn't read screens), I see this as definately a moot point. Perhaps the statistics will be the tell-all. Lets wait and see.
In closing, I'd rather have MSE by default than McAfee or Norton anyday.
If freebie security scanners werent so keen on popping up warnings and false positives to scare the users into buying their product (even if their system is completely clean), microsoft could offer alternative free scanners via their software channel. Atleast the microsoft product doesn't do any of this mischief.
Microsoft ought to do this the same way subscriptions work on something like adblock for Firefox. Include virus scanning by default in the OS, and include the microsoft 'subscription' by default. Then allow all virus scanner companies an opportunity to add their signature file as a subscription service (and, if they want to offer a free one next to their pay one, fine). Subscribe to all the signatures you want, same scanner engine for all. Problem solved. How many times do we need to re-implement a virus scanning engine by hooking all the core subsystem parts? Let Microsoft just provide this and then anti-virus companies can focus on what they do best, finding viruses.
"If freebie security scanners werent so keen on popping up warnings and false positives to scare the users"
I fear you need to learn to distinguish between free scanners and rogue antivirus. I've not seen free scanners that "pop up warning and false positives", at least no more of the latter than say, Trend. Norton's free scanner is borderline, mind. I'd suggest that if you are seeing a lot of "you have 60,000 viruses" type messages, you don't have a virus scanner at all but and infection.
must take priority over corporate squables, to be fair if MS had built a proper system in the first place they would not be in business anyway.
I have long argued that proper AV should be built in to windows at the core. and I look forward to the day that MS wakes up. ( I know but I live in Hope... and no, not Derbyshire!)
I've just removed AVG from a family member's ageing Thinkpad which runs XP and put MSE onto it. The result is that it goes much, much faster, I have had AVG as my scanner of choice for a long time now, but it's just getting too slow. MSE also picked up a couple of nasties that AVG hadn't on its first scan. I have had a similar experience with my Vista/64 box.
If they want me back as a customer, they need to make their product better, it's that simple.
I was a paying AVG user, but the last few versions felt so heavily bloated.
I tried MSE out on a whim and was amazed that it did exactly what it needed to, and nothing else.
It can be a bit slow to complete actions like "delete" and "quarantine" on files, but it seems to be proactive in finding the threats without draining free cycles.
... after version 7. I was a happy paying customer until AVG V8 came out, caused havok (eating cycles, false positives, missed infections, clunky interface, network interference, etc) with my system.
These days, I'm running the free Sophos on my Macbook (which is quite good incidentally) and Norton 2010 on my Win7 box, and I hate to admit it, N2010 isn't half bad either (apart from the chunky, web-like interface)...
... boffin because ... well ... they like to play with virii
there are millions of PC's in the word infected by the various botnets, if this can be automatically downloaded onto those PC's and clean the infection off (no idea if it can), then that has to be good idea!
the people whose PC's are riddled with viruses don't have anti-virus software, nor have they any idea how to install it, or where to get it from. they are virtually computer-illiterate. Panda won't lose any customers, as these people are unlikely to ever hear of Panda or their software.
Nobody mentions here the number of computers in the world that run fake copies of Windows. Have you visited asia etc... probably there 1 in 2 PC are running fake copies. Unfortunately they don't get updates or any other protection and they end up part of the 'network'. They deserve it though!
It's an optional download, not a critical one so no antitrust here, just AV vendors wringing their hands at the the thought of lost business.
MSE is actually rather good, low CPU overhead and virtually no excessive bloat, I'm about to replace AVG Free with it in fact.
Maybe the AV industry should work on things like cutting out the bloat and making definition updates cheaper (nay free?) if they want rest a little easier at night...
In the bad old days (Windows 95/98) I would insist that all my friends and relatives used at the very least AVG and ZoneAlarm. Those products became more bloated and deliberately scary over time. These days, Windows Firewall and MSE are more than adequate for the average home user. Limited User Accounts are a great idea on XP and easy to set up, too. Only log in as Admin when installing new software or drivers.
Er, yes, can I just flag up that rather important fact. It is *not* an automatic download in any sense that a native English speaker would infer from the word "automatic".
It is merely offered. Even if you are set to install all crticial updates automatically, you don't get this one, because it isn't classified as critical. You actually have to click once to peruse the list of recommended updates and once again to actually select this one. That's what we techy types call a "manual" download, because it requires effort on our part.
It is better to run Windows unprotected than have a monoculture, particularly for people who don't understand the difference between essential and optional updates? AV retailers have the market covered in the retail sector which pretty much ships every PC with trial AV software that nobody pays for or replaces, but Microsoft get it in the neck for trying to secure their own software.
I say well done Microsoft. They are helping stem the tide of malware, spam, and DDOS for the rest of us. Not to mention the fact that it puts into place the kind of protection that should be built into an OS in the first place. After all, AV vendors have just been profiting from the past failures of Microsoft.
They just cant do anything right can they? At least in the eyes of many.
Bundle software, people moan its anti competative
Dont bundle stuff, in this case MSE, people moan how unsafe Windows is.
I'm not sure how Apple get away with including so much stuff with their computers. Safari, iTunes, iLife etc etc. Seems very unfair to me.
I think MS should just build it into the OS, like search or defrag.
Being open-minded, I left MS Security Essentials download as part of last week's (?) update, and let it install and run.
Immediately, my ability to cut'n;paste files from one folder to another was seriously compromised. A four second delay (at 100% CPU) before a copy would start, and then it crawled along s-o-o-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-wly. I gave up on several attempts to copy from hard drive to USB Flash drive.
The only good news? It uninstalled without complaint, and did not need a reboot. The file copy that was in progress leapt to full speed about halfway through the uninstall.
[I had not disabled my other security software while running MSSE -- you don't fire existing staff while putting new people through a trial period. So I doi not know if it was just hissyfitting because it was the newbie]
The Windows virus scanner APIs are explicitly designed to be accessed by one and only one AV program. My experiences and all of the reviews about the overhead and performance of MSE are positive; I'll wager that if you uninstalled or at least disabled the current provider before testing MSE you'd have a very different opinion of it.
.........MSE's install guidance about not installing along side existing AV software because of the possible conflicts that can arise. The same advice that almost all AV vendors give when you are about to install one of their products. You know, that bit of the process based on the concept RTFM? As in do not install the product in a way that the provider recommends against and whinge about its performance when it does not behave as per spec - when you have chosen to ignore the said specs?
Running multiple AV scanners (with real-time scanning), no matter what AV scanners they are can cause serious slowdowns on file access, copy, etc. as they are both competing to access the same files using the same hooks. Try disabling your other security software and copying and then disabling MSSE and copying. I predict things will speed up considerably in both situations.
The AV people are going to complain the MS is using undocumented APIs or that they have and unfair advantage cause they have access to the windows code . I would expect MS to be able to write a better AV scanner since they do have the windows source code .
Ps how many false positives has MSE had ?
In Windows 7, open Control Panel ->System and Security ->Windows Update ->Settings.
You will find these checkboxes, which are - not - checked by default:
"Give me updates for Microsoft software and check for new optional Microsoft software when I update Windows"
"Show me detailed notifications when new Micosoft software is available"
Okay so competitiveness in AV software is good why? It hasn't made companies like Panda and Trend make better software has it? Same goes for the big names like Symantec and McAfee! As long as it is removing the viruses it wouldn't matter if there was only one AV program available, all things considered I would rather use MSE than any other and that is the problem for these companies, it is too good, that is what their issues is here as they have no real argument!
How many times has a new piece of malware been released that's detected by, say, Avast and Symantec but not by anyone else? (Just an example, of course.) That's why competition in AV software is a good thing. If there were only one engine out there, it would be much easier to write malware that avoids detection.
............compete on making their products _look_ good from the point of view of non-techie customers. The result very often is a shit load of visual bells and whistles that in reality do no more than impress the easily impressed and use an unnecessarily large amount of system resources. After trying for many years the products of a large number of different companies my opinion FWIW is that _currently_ MSE is a good piece of kit and is not a resource hog.
Is Panda or whoever planning on advertising some free antivirus alternative within their software, thought not, so why are Microsoft continually trying to be forced into offering other companies products on their software. I've been through a number of AV products and to be honest most of them are overindulgent bloatware. Even the free alternatives AVG, Avast and Comodo are kind of starting to bloat out a bit and are particularly keen on advertising their "full" versions.
For once MS have went the opposite way, taken the bloat out of it and made it lean and mean. It kind of reminds me of Computer Associates free InnoculateIT AV software back in the day. It does what it says on the tin, nothing more and nothing less. I have now abandoned the others and just use MSE because it's small, unobtrusive and most importantly... it works.
I'm of the opinion that if MSE doesn't fulfill peoples needs, then they will search out an alternative and if it does, then does it matter that they use MS's free software instead of someone elses free one (unless of course the others give a cut down free AV version in the hope people will upgrade to the pro/deluxe/advanced version for a cost). Personally I prefer to believe that people are quite capable and are not stupid..... until they prove otherwise at least.
Anti-Virus software only has a market because MS Windows was so riddled with security problems. Which MS has received quite a lot of flak for over the past three decades. Now that MS is finally FIXING those problems, third-party anti-virus software makers are complaining.
So MS gets flak both for creating security problems and for fixing them...
I think consumers will be smart enough to figure out whether or not third-party anti-virus products add any benefit.
MSE did'nt save my winxp box from the ramnit.a virus the other week.
Although I am left wondering something
Could the amount of cash being spent on AV products not be better spent revising windows so it cant be pwned so badly all the time?
Thus M$ would have a better product to sell AND we dont have to install crummy cycle stealing AV software.
Or is there an unholy alliance between m$ and the AV ppl...........
Had it almost since they started offering it, have been pleased since. It's unobtrusive, sleek, and easy to use.
It's a bit unfair for MS to use the windows update channel to offer this, yes, but they already DO the 'vote page' in Win7's notification center if it tells you you lack an antivirus.
I can't find the exact link, but here's a close one
in truth, I think MS Antivirus would seem a perfect fit (I know I know), fact is MS knows more about their OS and how their antivirus software can work with it without slowing down the machine unlike 3rd party AV's that are relying on hooks into the OS.... (Paradoxically yes, but hooks are known to slow down everything, from keyboard, to window hooks....)
I don't see people at OoO and FileMaker whining that Windows Update can include MSOffice updates. What's the big deal about AV software?
I rarely (er, never) use "Microsoft" and "pretty good" in the same sentence, but with MSE, I think they finally bought/took over/stole something that is pretty good. For most home users, MSE and quietly updating it through WU is just fine. If McAfee / Trend / AVG / Symantec would put out better product that didn't slow the machine to a crawl, the'y have a right to whine.
People have the option not to install it if they choose not to. The other AV firms are complaining simply because MS can deliver it's products to a hell of a lot more users than they can. Let's face it, someone not running AV software probably hasn't never heard of the ones that are crying foul.
I think it's good, MS is actually doing something good in this case. The software works and it's giving it away for free to people who need it.
I don't like it when I D/L software and it opts for me to install something like Yahoo toolbar or installs 3rd party stuff I didn't ask for. Hey, some of the AV companies do that! So, do as I say not do as I do?
""We agree with Microsoft; it’s better to have some protection than not having any at all," Santana argues in a blog post. "However, the way the guys in Redmond are executing the idea is risky from a security perspective and could very well make the malware situation much worse for internet users. That’s why we encourage Microsoft to continue using Windows/Microsoft Update but instead to push all free antivirus products available on the market, not just MSE.""
Hmmm - let's think about that.
Say MS does this - and one of these wonderful third party anti-viruses happens to have a definition update on its first use that marks system files as a threat, and sticks them in quarantine - disabling the system in the process?
Who gets blamed, the company that makes it, or the company that offered it as a "choice" on their update service?
MS might be dumb, but they aren't stupid - as in their law department isn't that stupid to let them assume that kind of risk. Even if you have "use at your own risk" on it, ultimately the download is being provided through the MS update service, so they're going to face angst.
is where all these computers with no virus checker come from.
You can't get out of PCwhirled without climbing over mountains of Norton boxes, and every laptop I've ever had to sort out for one of the great unwashed has had some sort of virus checker on it, OK, a proportion are out of date, but I have never seen a naked windows install I did not install myself from scratch.
We need a big ? icon
Does anyone remember the last time Microsoft came out with a free antivirus system? I think it was back in the DOS 6 days (give or take some), and was quickly found to be pretty vulnerable (word was that you could disable it with a couple of assembly-code instructions).
Even if this one isn't badly-designed and/or badly-implemented (which would be a first for Microsoft on a V1.0 product), the danger is that, being from Microsoft (and therefore good in the eyes of the Great Unwashed), it could become the de facto standard. And that's dangerous.
I believe that, bad as the malware-on-Windows situation is, it would be worse if everybody ran the same AV program. Microsoft's AV team misses a 0-day attack? Great, the whole world catches it. An update crashes the system? Everybody crashes.
There's a certain hybrid vigour to having lots of different AV programs. If one of them misses something, the odds are that at least some of the others don't, and some of us will still be safe.
Now, I don't know if the other AV vendors are arguing along these lines, or are just bitching because they see the gravy train departing at high speed (I wouldn't trust Trend Micro as far as I could throw them, for a start, after the Barracuda debacle). This time, though, I agree with them.
I agree with many comments already here and most of them sum up on what I wanted to say. Microsoft are getting slated for trying to protect their consumers, all because the other big AV corps want a piece of the action...
Absolute rubbish. Half the time these AV products are more hassle than their worth. Nothing but bloatware. When you go to uninstall the damn thing, your required to download another uninstallation tool!
Seems these AV companies think that all users need their hands held every step of the way. I'm quite sure were capable of making our own informed decisions on which product to use.
Even though I only use Linux at home now, I've had enough experience with Windows to applaud MS for conceding that they are selling OSs which are a little too vulnerable. MSE is essentially an upgrade to the OS which attempts to rectify this situation. It would have been better if they had sorted things out from first principles, but at least they are doing something. Since MSE addresses fundamental problems with the OS, MS are quite within their rights to push it above all other such products. The AV manufacturers need to stop whining and concentrate on developing better products.
"I've had enough experience with Windows to applaud MS for conceding that they are selling OSs which are a little too vulnerable. MSE is essentially an upgrade to the OS which attempts to rectify this situation."
Spot on, in fact their complaints are about as logical as suddenly discovering that the next Windows build was no longer vulnerable in the same way that they have all been so far and howling about that on the basis that building a really robust OS will put them out of business!
I wish I could go time travel back to 93 and show Bill what a fuck up the design of windows is before everybody started to get used to how windows works to install stuff. Microsoft need to enforce password for install like most other OS's. I do home support for PC’s and regardless of what Virus software is on the PC stuff is getting through. So MSE as good as anything else, at least it won’t bog you down. That said I am mostly installing Avast at the moment
You can argue that the best person to know how their product works and is best repaired is Microsoft. They have all the hidden technical details and designs.
Naturally any malware will try to kill the task, but I'm sure there are tricks that could prevent that.
The "MSAV" that appeared in DOS 6.0 was actually a stripped-down version of Central Point AntiVirus ("CPAV"). I'm pretty sure someone simply opened a hex editor and replaced the acronym CPAV with MSAV, and called it internal. And yes, I'm ashamed that this nugget still takes up real estate in my head.
I'm going to bravely say the Microsoft Security Essentials is probably the best attempt Redmond has made since then.
"The download is only offered to Windows users who aren't already running anti-virus software." and "Specialist anti-virus firms have criticised the auto-download move, arguing that Redmond is restricting choice."
How exactly is this "restricting choice"? On a Windows platform, antivirus software is, well, pretty damn important. And if you don't have one already installed, Microsoft will at least offer you an option. This seems logical.
But, on the other hand, if you don't have any antivirus, you either don't know about it or you don't give a crap, so how is this "restricting choice"? Or maybe, as it is non-free companies complaining, what they mean is "yet another freebie (this one blatantly shoved at you) is restricting profits". They have yet to understand that a person with no antivirus probably wasn't exactly going to be a customer in the first place.
Boo-hoo-hoo Trend! As soon as YOUR product is as cheap as Security Essentials, I'll use it! My heart bleeds for AV vendors, after all your days of ripping punters off with overpriced software that occasionally does a bad update and screws your PC now you cry foul when someone does a better (and cheaper!) job.
I still think most virii are written by AV vendors -- they always seem to employ the most famous virus-writers. Keep the sales up with fear, it's the capitalist way!
when Windows XP suggests a list of free anti-virus products (when clicks through from the warning notice that there's no protection) there's a list of 19 free products given.
Microsoft's Security Essentials is 10th in a list of 19. That makes it in the bottom half.
Fail, because this is what Panda and Trend have done.
A properly configured and properly operated computer does not need a "Virus Scanner" these days. Linux and MacOS X prove it.
A properly configured and operated Windows machine does not need a Virus Scanner either. The problem sits in front of the PC and it thinks it can "solve itself" by shelling out money for a Virus Scanner.
They should better spend that money on attending a course where they learn how to run as non-Admin and downloading programs from a known good source. Most of the retards simply type "skype download" and then download a laced EXE from
While doing so, they expect the Virus Scanner to kick in. They run as Admin and open random PDFs sent by email and the VS is supposed to protect them. They have never heard of "spearphising", certainly.
Good luck with that concept.
Tell you what, when Linux and Mac have a quarter share of the market (let's make it easy, a quarter share combined) you might see things start to change.
You see, the War on Terror is destined to fail because in the past you made pointy missiles and waved them at a country. Bombs and armies are somewhat less useful when your enemy is an ideology and not an actual place.
In the same sense, only a loser virus coder would think it "cool" to break a computer and screw up the MBR. Its all about money these days, and you either get the botnets (which require quite low level access, thank you Microsoft for making a generation of Windows machines give the users admin rights as standard!), or you get a myriad of other compromises aimed not at doing a lot to your machine, but rather pulling data. Is your bank in your cache? Fine - which bank. Now can we sniff passwords. Let's try these passwords on this bank.
That's a very simplistic example, but you get the point. An antivirus by being a secondary resource, after your intelligence (i.e. don't download ThIsIsAsAfEfIlE.exe from a .ru domain!), that said, I have noticed Avast throw up warnings for sites dealing in cross stitch patterns (for my mother), so there again is a potential trend to target sites that would be frequented by less tech-savvy visitors.
Of course, you can choose instead to bury your head in the sand. Good luck with that concept.
...all potential terrorists running in Admin mode while the virus scanner is trying to match them against a bazillion of databases.
Other countries run security like Unix - first show me the credentials, then board a/c| buy gun|buy explosives|train flying heavy aircraft.
All the weirdos who come to Germany are buried in the paperwork and get some respect for the state while the weirdos reaching America realize that nobody will care until very serious damage is done.
Currently, the virus scanner is stuck scanning c:\temp\trashbin\afghanistan and the computer is unusable in the meantime. After that, the virus scanner will download new signatures for the anglosaxon banksters of 2008. The 2009 and 2010 financial fraudster signatures are still under compilation.
Police states like Germany and France have an economy load of 100% in the meantime.
This isn't exactly true. It should read "The download is only offered to Windows users who aren't already running Microsoft-recognised anti-virus software." It certainly tries to offer it and install it on PCs here running CA eTrust Anti-virus.
"possible security implications" of Microsoft simply offering their own solution? C'Mon guys, this has nothing to do with Security (aka, they're hinting MSE suxors), this has to do with "you need to offer our bloated crap next to yours and give the user a choice."
Almost every new PC comes preloaded with their bloatware, so it won;t trigger a download anyway. However, when that bloatware expires after 60-90 days, the user has NO AV being updated, and getting their crap out of the machnie is a PITA to replace it with a "freebie."
Also, the freebies? they mostly suck.
The Auto-update mechanism is not designed to offer choices, its designed to offer patches. The idea they can simply check the "is AV installed and running" flag is good enough. If you have no AV installed, they should push you one. MSE uninstalls EASILY to be replaced by others. Maybe the install screen for MSE could offer some "competitive suggestions" and information to find and install an alternative, but lets get the machine clean first.
Maybe if Sym and McAffee offered their own free version, Ms might even offer to have THAT pushed instead...
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