Microsoft Morro: A Potential Catalyst for Higher Level SecurityBy Lawrence Walsh | Print
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BLOG: Microsoft's Morro, a free online antivirus service, will probably disrupt parts of the traditional security software market. More likely, Morro will cause people to explore more robust security offerings, making the service a catalyst for DLP and Web security solutions.
The prospects of free, basic antivirus protection from Microsoft would have been enough to send shivers down security pros and PC users’ spines just a couple of years ago. Today, however, Microsoft’s plans for free, cloud-based virus scanning seem more a sign of the changing security times and the need to think about higher level security protection.
Microsoft’s "Morro," is clearly a consumer service, designed to replace the for-pay Windows Live OneCare program, which will slip into oblivion June 30. Microsoft isn’t promising a wonderous revolution in antivirus protection, but rather basic protection against common malware. Undoubtedly, many small businesses and home office users will use this service rather than paying $39 per seat for a Symantec or McAfee license.
Back in November 2008 when Microsoft first announced its Morro ambitions, security research firm Securosis speculated that the antivirus service is a stepping stone toward integration with Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Just as Microsoft integrated Internet Explorer into Windows, Securosis said Microsoft would bake antivirus protection into the OS platform. Further, Securosis believed that Microsoft’s launch of Morro would compel antivirus vendors such as Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and others to be more innovative to outpace Microsoft.
Truth be told, Microsoft long ago spurred a wave of innovation and change in the security software community when it bought antivirus vendor Sybari and spyware protection pioneer Giant nearly five years ago. Standalone antivirus is extinct. All of the major security software vendors have incorporated additional features and functionality into their malicious code protection suites. Randy Cochran, vice president of North America channels at Symantec, recently to us that their decision to change the brand of Symantec Antivirus to "Symantec Endpoint Protection" was a risk but one worth taking since it better reflected the purpose and functionality of the package.