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Microsoft Security Essentials Has Competitors Upset

Go figure. Microsoft has taken more knocks about security over the years than Gerry Cooney has taken punches, and now that Redmond has actually made a pretty solid effort at protecting its own operating system, its security partners are whining.

Microsoft's free Security Essentials is available to Windows update subscribers who actively say that they want it -- it is not, in other words, an automatic download. But security firms such as McAfee, Symantec and especially Trend Micro are complaining that Microsoft's practice of offering Security Essentials as part of an update download -- even a completely elective one -- is anti-competitive.

We at RCPU have very little sympathy for the third parties here, and here's why: First off, Microsoft has long shirked the responsibility of properly protecting Windows, and the $50 Microsoft Windows Live OneCare -- the predecessor to Security Essentials -- was just an insult. Buying OneCare was like paying protection money to slick-haired men in track suits.

Security Essentials, on the other hand, is simply an example of Microsoft doing what it should have been doing for years -- securing its flagship product, fairly effectively (apparently) and for free. It's Microsoft's responsibility to do this, not a privilege. Besides, Microsoft is constantly coming out with technologies that could (and do) put certain third parties out of business. ISVs just have to live with and adjust to that -- it's part of being a software company.

That brings us to another point: Symantec, McAfee (soon to be part of Intel) and Trend have huge product portfolios that go way beyond what Security Essentials offers. And while we frankly doubt whether many uses will take the risk of using only Security Essentials to protect their PCs (in other words, third-party vendors shouldn't see a huge drop in sales), security vendors would do well to improve their own wares.

For years now, the major third-party security ISVs have offered bloated, overpriced, under-effective products and sub-standard customer service. They've gotten fat off of complacency and Microsoft's failure to secure its own products. Well, welcome to the paradigm shift, Symantec, McAfee and Trend. Just as Microsoft is having to adjust to competition from other vendors as never before, you're going to have to adjust to competition from Microsoft. After all, the mother ship is only trying to do what it should have done all along.

What's your take on Security Essentials? Send it to

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/10/2010 at 1:23 PM

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Nov 11, 2010 Mr.Kazoo Silicon Valley

I am totally sold on Security Essentials. I started installing it and testing it on our machines last year and noticed how unobtrusive it is right from the start, it just works. The downloads and scanning is silent on continuously running machines and subtle on mobile machines. We haven't seen any problems with compatibility with other software and when it does find a suspicious file, it is dealt with handily. I have recommended it many times without issue. Thanks MS for a nice addition.

Thu, Nov 11, 2010 Jim

I had to laugh at Hank's comment. He's probably a shill for Symantec or McAfee. Security Essentials works great, and I use it on every computer in my home.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 Joe D. WA

I think MS Security Essentials is a good start. I'm not impressed with Symantec/Norton. They guzzle all your computing power and find things historically (after you've been infected). Also, they refuse to recognize Malware and Spyware as viruses, and so they either did nothing about it, or try to sell you yet another product to guzzle yet more computer resources to find that stuff.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 Tom

--> 'SE only checks if you tell it to scan the file' -- I don't understand this statement as it seems incorrect. However I can understand some believing it to be true since the realtime protection scan is quite fast and barely (if at all) noticable. Also MSE has received fairly high praise in the industry and in my opinion is very respectable solution.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 dffeitlstp St. Paul, Minnesota

Symantec(Norton) and Trend Micro can take a flying leap for all I care. The security racket went on for too long, with overinvasive products that ate my bandwidth every time they did a scan. McAfee security center was much better, but if it had not come with ISP subscription, I would not have purchased it. Let's face it, we pay a lot of $$$ for Microsoft products. The perk of getting a solid freebie softens the blow of having purchased Vista and then had no choice but to upgrade to Windows 7.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 Hank Los Angeles

One-Care was worth the $50. Security Essentials is worth exactly what they charge, nothing. In fact, it has negative value. People install it and think they're protected. They're not, Security Essentials is a poor excuse for an anti-virus. Every commercial one checks files as they're downloaded, SE only checks if you tell it to scan the file. It allows you to download and run virus infected files.

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 AZCTFlyer Phoenix

Hurray for Microsoft! Security Essentials is just a essential part of Windows. If the third party guys want to get my $$$, they'll have to create a better, faster, leaner product. Their old products got to be so expensive, slow, and bloated they created more problems than they fixed.

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