Thursday, November 11, 2010

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Security Essentials Available For Download Through Microsoft Update Service

Microsoft began making its Security Essentials software available to customers through its Microsoft Update service as an optional download on November 1 for U.S. customers and October 19 for U.K. customers. It offers the download only to customers who do not have an antivirus solution that is detectable by Microsoft's Action Center. 
No, it's not 1998. And we're talking about allowing customers to choose whether they want the software, rather than bundling a particular browser--say Internet Explorer--on Windows.
Two security software makers are complaining about Microsoft using its update service to deliver its free antivirus software to Windows users who don't have such protection on their computers.
Despite the broad availability of anti-malware software, many consumer and small business PCs remain unprotected. By offering the free antivirus download, "Microsoft make it easy for those who want and know they need protection, but for whatever reason have not gotten around to installing it. Now they can download the software when they perform their other system updates without having to search the Web or make a special trip to the store.

Who can argue with a company offering people a free download of security software if they want it? Trend Micro and Panda Security, that's who. Executives from both companies claim the move is anticompetitive because Microsoft is leveraging its update service that downloads software to millions of Windows computers to plant its own antivirus software on systems.

Commercializing Windows Update to distribute other software applications raises significant questions about unfair competition. 

Windows Update is a de facto extension of Windows, so to begin delivering software tied to updates has us concerned. Also, Windows Update is not a choice for users, and we believe it should not be used this way.
Pedro Bustamante, a senior research adviser at Panda, said Microsoft Security Essentials is insufficient protection compared with other free antivirus products that offer multiple layers of security such as Web filtering and behavior blocking. And from a global overall security perspective, Microsoft's plan is flawed because it will only get installed on computers with a valid license to run Windows and will thus leave millions of unlicensed computers unprotected - Bustamante.
Several analysts dismissed Bustamante's arguments, as well as the antitrust concerns and said Microsoft's plan was a good thing for Internet security overall and offering any security protection was better than offering none at all.
In principal, we welcome Microsoft or anyone else entering into the security market to provide more choice for customers -- even if it's just baseline protection. As we mentioned previously, our concern is about any mechanism or tactic that may obscure that choice for consumers. While techies may recognize the difference between "Microsoft Update and "Windows Update," many consumers may not be familiar with this distinction or see any difference between optional and recommended updates from Microsoft.

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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