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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 lpender@rcpmag.com.

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


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