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Microsoft Security Essentials: Better than Sugary Cereal, Apparently

OK, so maybe we judged a book by its cover, or, more appropriately, by past works by the same author. Earlier this week, we ripped a bit on Microsoft Security Essentials, Redmond's new (and free) anti-virus effort, comparing it to sugary cereals that were always "part of this complete breakfast" in their old TV ads.

Evidently, though, early returns suggest that Security Essentials is actually pretty good and might have some impact on the anti-virus market after all. We note, of course, that these returns are very early, given that Microsoft just released the new product on Tuesday. But given that we expected a flood of articles this week about how woefully short the product falls in terms of providing protection, we're honestly a bit surprised...and humbled.

By the way, if the early reviews are accurate, we don't consider that to be particularly good news for partners. Sure, it's great that Microsoft might be able to finally provide security for its applications, but we're sure that the many Microsoft channel players who also partner with Symantec, McAfee or Trend Micro won't want to lose whatever revenue they're making from those vendors' products to a free offering from Microsoft. (Granted, AV is really mostly a consumer play, but some enterprise partners must be skimming something from it.)

After all, a patchy (sorry) record on security hasn't stopped Microsoft from dominating the software market, so it's not as though partners can really talk up Security Essentials as a deal-clincher for customers. On the other hand, the many users (and partners) who have long clamored for Microsoft to be responsible and secure its own products for free will surely be at least somewhat satisfied if Security Essentials lives up to its early reviews. And that could be positive for Microsoft and its partners in general, especially as rivals such as Linux, Apple and even Google continue to hit Microsoft on security issues.

Besides, Symantec, McAfee and friends are into much more than just anti-virus these days, so, while a successful Microsoft AV effort could give other AV vendors fits, it's not likely to put them out of business. And we figure it'll be a while before consumers or enterprise folks turn their security completely over to Microsoft. A long while.

For now, however, we'll give a preliminary tip of the cap to Microsoft and Security Essentials, which looks closer to being Total than to being Cocoa Puffs, cereally speaking.

We've had some good comments on Security Essentials on the blog site. Add to them there or send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 10/01/2009 at 1:22 PM


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