Microsoft Morro: A Potential Catalyst for Higher Level Security

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


Modernizing Authentication - What It Takes to Transform Secure Access

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.

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Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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