Morro: Microsoft's Free Antivirus Software

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Morro: Microsoft's Free Antivirus Software

Kevin R. Smith

There's been a bit of a discussion lately about Microsoft's upcoming antivirus software, dubbed "Morro" and currently in beta.

Given the time we've spent in and on Internet security-related software and other matters, I'd like to add another voice on the subject. Some things to consider about Morro:

  Facts about Morro   Considerations
1. "Morro will work by routing all of a users Internet traffic to a Microsoft datacenter, where the Morro application will process the traffic and identify and block malware in real-time, by examining all of the rerouted traffic." Do you really want all of your Internet surfing going through Microsoft's servers?

  1. Aside from antivirus detection, how else will they be using this information to profile you?
  2. What happens when, as invariably will happen, Microsoft's servers go down or are overwhelmed?
  3. What about if your connection to them is somehow blocked or otherwise interrupted?
2. How will Microsoft use the data other than for virus detection? Even if Microsoft claims to be "anonymizing" data (which I haven't heard any mention of), as AOL claimed it was doing when it released search data, this is of great concern here.

AOL couldn't anonymize it all and released tons of sensitive information including people's social security numbers and credit card numbers.

Does anyone expect anything different from Microsoft in this regard?

Truly, this seems like a privacy nightmare. And then some.
3. "How it will remain free is beyond me.

The only viable way Microsoft makes money out of these things is by providing advertisements to their programs and applications.

This is not only why Windows Live and other Microsoft products are free, but you’ll find it’s why the Internet as a whole is pretty much free."
Source: ibid

I'm with Zack on this, and I'll throw in one more thing: what happens when it's time for support?

My own personal experience of calling Microsoft for help--even when I paid their absurd $195.00/call for their so-called "enterprise support"--was, to be purely honest: useless in upwards of 75% of the cases.

In one instance, I called in noting precise URLs to the MS technician revealing that they had a hotfix that would solve my problem, and only after climbing through hoops for nearly an hour did the tech email the patch to me.

In another instance, I called looking for support with a licensing issue, and after, literally, over two dozens calls and transfers, they acknowledged the problem as theirs and solved it.

I'm sure others have had different experiences with Microsoft's support, but the real question here is, "What kind of support do people expect on a free product?"

Given that the best antivirus software out there for 2012 can be had for under $20 and that you get full-fledged U.S. based telephone tech support for your $20, it seems a truly small price to pay for such high-quality, fully supported software.
4. "A replacement for Live OneCare which failed to gain much traction, Morro will, in effect, compete with similar antivirus products from security vendors such as Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro." Microsoft's initial foray into A/V software was called, "Live OneCare," and it was met almost universally with silence.

After failing to get any noteworthy market adoption, it's now being replaced with Morro.

Given Microsoft's history of abandoning products, not just in antivirus, but also with music / media with the Microsoft PlaysForSure* files, this begs the question: what else might the unsuspecting consumer be in store for by using the Microsoft A/V product?

[* Microsoft rolled out PlaysForSure in 2004, only to just two years later in 2006, ironically fail to allow music licensed with the Microsoft PlaysForSure to work on their own Zune player.]

We'll no doubt have more news and commentary on Microsoft's Morro Antivirus as more details become available.


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