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Doug's Mailbag: Microsoft Anti-Virus Dust-Up, More

Security vendors like Symantec aren't taking too kindly to Microsoft's recent anti-virus foray, but many readers don't see the problem:

I'm firmly in favour of Microsoft taking this action. It is time the existing companies had a bit of a shake-up. Personally, I think that the existing products are either bloated, poorly written or perform poorly. I've replaced one fairly major AV tool on my main Vista machine with the Morro beta and I'm happy so far. It does not seem to slow my machine down, which is something I was very unhappy about with the tool it replaced.

I'm also looking at replacing the very major AV tool we have corporately with the Stirling equivalent. We've had a lot of trouble deploying the current tool we have and I am not at all convinced it works as I would want it to work. If our lab tests of Stirling are positive, in it comes and out goes the major player.
-Philip

If the other vendors are so good, why are they opposed to Microsoft coming to play in their world? When vendors charge an arm and a leg for their products, they need to be aware that competition will come forth to challenge for a piece of the pie. Go, Microsoft!
-Jim

As long as Microsoft doesn't bundle it with the OS, they have as much right as AVG to offer a free solution. And OEMs can still throw in a trial version of whatever they want!
-Marc

Microsoft has as much "right" to the market as anyone else. They also have the opportunity to fail or succeed in it. Most of the mainstream AV vendors have created monsters that chew up machine resources, fail to update properly, incompletely uninstall, and otherwise would be known as malware. It is high time that someone create a low-impact, well-architected AV solution. I don't much care if it is MS or someone else.

If Symantec wants to offer a reasonable AV product (it has been many years since they have), I'd buy it. Instead of complaining, how about delivering?
-Dan

Let the marketplace decide if Microsoft's anti-virus is worth a hill of beans. Microsoft has the biggest bull's-eye on its back and if their product can pass muster, good for them, but I believe it will become a hacker target like no other Microsoft product. For Microsoft's sake, they better have done enough homework.
-Tim

Symantec should be upset; their products are expensive, bloated and apparently designed to be invasive. It nearly took an act of Congress to get a removal tool from this company. Invariably, when I am asked to look at a friend's PC, it is Norton that's causing the slow response. I am not a desktop expert by any means, but a simple anti virus program is all that is required by me, and all the pop-up notifications and balloons are a nuisance. I welcome the free anti-virus tool from Microsoft.
-Russ

Many people do not have AV software on their computer and depending on the distribution method, this could be good. Symantec customer service is horrible and I think there is much better AV software out there than Symantec's.
-John

I have not tried the product yet, but think that Symantec needs to take a chill pill. The latest Symantec products have forced me back into the AV shoppers' market. I, for one, am not opposed to a fresh perspective on AV, and if it is free, even better.
-Richard

But a couple of you think Microsoft's free anti-virus play just underscores a deeper problem when it comes to OS security:

MS could have been protecting its OS since the second release of Win 98. Instead, MS chose not to. Why now? Is MS trying to make the public believe that AV is so insignificant that it should be free? In that vein, all upgrades of Windows should be free; after all, Windows is just one upgrade after another.
-Brian

The way I see it, it's laughable. MS is in way raising the white flag and admitting what we have all known for years: that they produce an insecure OS. Do you see AV tools bundled with the default install of Linux among the many app that are? No. Why? Because it's secure. Had MS just developed a secure OS to begin with, they wouldn't need it.

I am a Windows system admin at work and will not let this MS crap touch my systems. As far as I'm concerned, MS security is a oxymoron.
-Anonymous

Meanwhile, Roger shares Doug's appreciateion for Diskeeper's defragging virtues, but is less than satisfied with Microsoft's:

Vista and V7 use background defragmentation. Unfortunately, Microsoft forgot that defragmentation requires lots of hard drive spindle seek activity. Diskeeper disables the Microsoft defragmenter when it installs. That is Diskeeper's best hidden feature. Diskeeper also sleeps if it detects significant hard drive activity so real-time apps can use the hard drive without competition from Diskeeper. The Windows defragmenter would keep right on trucking in competition with real-time apps like Media Center Live TV. The degradation was noticeable.

I was a beta tester for Vista (and now V7) and reported this problem to Microsoft. Did they listen? Did they even acknowledge my contribution? The answers are "I don't know" and "No," respectively.
-Roger

More letters coming on Wednesday! Meanwhile, share your thoughts by writing a comment below or sending an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/29/2009 at 1:16 PM


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