Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Microsoft to Sell Anti-Virus Software

An article from Rueters is claiming that Microsoft will start developing their own AV (anti-virus) software. Microsoft is saying that their anti-virus program will be sold as a separate piece of software their operating systems. This is another step towards the "Trustworthy Computing" campaign that they started in 2002.

I have several thoughts about this subject. First virus creation is at an all time high, and they are spreading across the internet faster and faster everyday. It makes sense that the AV and Patch management become a more intergral part of the OS (Operating System). Not just Microsoft's Operating Systems, but all of them, Apple, Linux, freeBSD, all of them. Anti-virus will be just as important as disk management and memory management. I person doesn't have to know how a mouse or keyboard work to use them, the same thing goes with AV.

Lets just say hypothetically that Microsoft is successful in securing all of their Operating Systems and users. (I know this is really a stretch, but lets just go with it) The virus writers will turn their attention to the other Operating Systems. While the users of non-microsoft OSs are usually more technical, it is still a lot of work to keep a workstation, patched and the virus definitions up today. Truthfully, why should we have to spend time everyday updating our machines? It seems to me that technology is far enough along that all operating systems to a certain extent should be self-healing. Currently IBM server running AIX claim this, but isn't this need more on the desktop arena than in the server room?

Now lets go back to the 95% of the computer population that is running a Microsoft operating systems. Most of these people are office or home users. They use their machines for spreadsheets, documents and email. These are the people that are at a higher risk. These are the people that need to have a machine that updates itself, and auto-hides emails that could be viruses. Shouldn't these be the systems that are self-healing?

There is another barrier to AV protection that is usually over looked are inital and ongoing costs. When people buy a new computer, they usually get McAffe, or Norton loaded and ready to go with a 90 day subscription. Of course 90 days go by and the users forgets to purchase the subscription or can't afford it. So now there are machines that have AV software on them, but the definitions on them are so old that the software is close to useless. So why can't the subscriptions be either included in the cost of the new PC? Why can't their be a 10 dollar a year subscription for AV? I personally know of people that are using older machines, because they can't afford new once, and can't afford to spend 100 dollars a year on AV. However 10 dollars a year, is down right cheap. Everyone should be able to afford that. 10 dollars from 100 people, will always be more then 100 dollars from 2 people. So the software companies won't be losing money, and the comsumers are protected.

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