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Microsoft Plans To Sell Anti-Virus Software 830

Posted by timothy
from the takes-one-to-know-one dept.
EvilCowzGoMoo writes "From the makers of our favorite OS comes: Anti-Virus! Yes you heard me right. According to an article on Reuters.com Microsoft is developing its own brand of anti-virus software. Asked if that would hurt sales of competing products, such as Network Associates' McAfee and Symantec's Norton family of products, Nash (chief of Microsoft's security business unit) said that Microsoft said that it would sell its anti-virus program as a separate product from Windows, rather than including it in Windows. My only question is: If they can't seem to patch their OS fast enough, what makes them think they can keep their AV software up to date?"
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Microsoft Plans To Sell Anti-Virus Software

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  • by Jorj X. McKie (323674) * <mckieNO@SPAMamilost.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:54PM (#9445792) Journal
    While I'm not certain that I completely trust Microsoft on this, it might make sense to have the antivirus scanner as a part of the OS. Better low-level access, as well as being able to intercept attempts by something like Outlook to execute arbitrary files. Having a unified place to control such actions might help security.

    On the other hand, the major effect might just be to introduce a single point of failure/attack. It's certainly possible to argue that the variety of security software in use makes it harder to attack any given system. For evidence, look at the list of processes that the more sophisticated viruses try to stop.

    Background: I do not customarily use an on-demand scanner. On occasion, I have loaded up a scanner because of suspicious behavior. My Windows box (patched up to date, firewalled) has had only one virus, a backdoor program that was installed when my daughter clicked a "video clip" that she received in an e-mail, before she understood what a spoofed address was. So I'm not convinced that antivirus software is as necessary as it is built up to be.
    • by yabos (719499) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445831)
      They shouldn't need a separate program to stop Outlook from doing something stupid. It should just not do something stupid in the first place.
      • by colinramsay (603167) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:02PM (#9445950) Homepage
        Unfortunately there isn't a program to stop the user being stupid. No matter which e-mail client is used, they all allow attachments, and without a virus scanner screening those attachments, computer illiterate users are going to get virii.
        • by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:30PM (#9446258) Homepage Journal

          Unfortunately there isn't a program to stop the user being stupid.

          True enough. But then it is easier to modify applications and their design than it is to modify human beings and their design (well, at least for now...)

          Sometimes products are distributed that haven't been thought out well enough to consider the stupid user problem.

          In this case, "convenient features" about Outlook running attachments is colliding with user stupidity, gullibility, etc. [It's like stories of "free baseball night" at the ballgame - "fans" started to throw their free gifts onto the field when play got boring. Somebody wasn't thinking far enough ahead.]

          While Outlooks ubiquity might exacerbate the problems that Outlook users experience, other mail clients do not seem to have as many problems as Outlook does and certainly not as widespread an impact.

          Careful product design can mitigate the unavoidable problems of "stupid users in a cruel world".

          • by Alien54 (180860) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:43PM (#9446376) Journal
            Careful product design can mitigate the unavoidable problems of "stupid users in a cruel world".

            Two Buttons:

            Do What I Say
            Do What I mean

            Sounds simple enough to me

          • My first day at the University of Washington they packed all the freshmen into an indoor arena for orientation. They also gave all 4000 of us gift bags that included frisbees. I don't need to say what happened next.

            College students are stupid enough, and when it comes to computers, most people that use them in their workplaces are even stupider. That said, I agree with you completely that the simplest solution would have been to not give us frisbees in the first place.
          • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:25PM (#9446725)
            Outlook and Outlook Express do not let you open attachments by default. This was fixed about two years back, and it is about time that Slashdot took notice.
            • by bergeron76 (176351) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:25PM (#9448784)
              You said: Outlook and Outlook Express do not let you open attachments by default.

              You meant: Outlook XP and Outlook Express XP do not let you open attachments by default.

              Unfortunately, it will take several years until those versions become the "most prevalent on the internet" versions. Let's see - 2 years ago means that anyone running Office 2002 or prior is a virus-factory.

              Re-post this same message in about 6 years when you can convincingly say that "Outlook" [generically] does NOT let you open attachments by default. I dare surmise that the vast majority of Outlook users are NOT running Outlook XP.

        • Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Haydn Fenton (752330) <no.spam.for.haydn@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:31PM (#9446274)
          Does anybody else find this a bit unfair? (Yeah, I know that's M$'s gameplan, but still)

          I mean, the only OS which viruses are a major threat is windows.. and now they're going to sell AV software? That just takes the piss in my opinion.

          "Hey Bill, we can't possibly fight off all these viruses, surely we'll start losing customers at some point", "Hey, I know! lets sell some Antivirus software, that way we make yet more money and we can get away with releasing patches at an even slower rate, and we get away with terrible programming"...
        • by silicon not in the v (669585) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:00PM (#9446529) Journal
          Unfortunately there isn't a program to stop the user being stupid. No matter which e-mail client is used, they all allow attachments, and without a virus scanner screening those attachments, computer illiterate users are going to get virii.
          That's one of the best reasons to use something like Yahoo instead of a separate email client. It won't let viruses come in through attachments. When an email has an attachment, the link is to "Scan & Download attachment". It automatically scans first, and if there's a virus found, it just won't let you download it. I think you could get the emails unscanned with POP access, though.

          As to this MS virus scanning software, it seems this could easily violate their court issues for anti-competitive behavior(yeah, like enforce that anyway). I guess by selling it completely separately, instead of including it in Windows, they can say that they are competing on an equal footing. It would still seem though, that they have an unfair advantage in knowing how the operating system works more in depth than their competitors. Don't you think there's going to be some information sharing between the Windows dev team and the AV dev team?
        • User level virus (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:09PM (#9446600)
          "No matter which e-mail client is used, they all allow attachments, and without a virus scanner screening those attachments, computer illiterate users are going to get virii."

          And if they are running a Unix variant that attachment will only run at user level. No low level system modification can be made, so you can then log in as another user (or root) and delete said infected files which should all be in their home dir and not mixed in with 10000 .dll files. They should also have to make a little extra effort to get it to run in the first place, which will discourage some percentage of them too.

          • Re:User level virus (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:53PM (#9446961) Homepage

            And if they are running a Unix variant that attachment will only run at user level. No low level system modification can be made, so you can then log in as another user (or root) and delete said infected files which should all be in their home dir and not mixed in with 10000 .dll files.

            Sigh. How many times do we have to go over this for the slow learners? Two things.

            First, all of my important files are in my home directory owned by my user. A virus doesn't need root-level access to destroy everything of importance to me. It's nice that the files in /etc, /usr/bin, etc. are all locked so that my unprivileged user can't destroy them. Who cares? They're safely on a CD here, they're on the Debian site, they're available all over the internet. My own files exist in my directory (and backups). Those are what's important to me.

            Second, the modern worm/virus spreads by either remotely exploiting vulnerabilities on other machines or re-emailing itself. Guess what: it doesn't need root privileges for either of those operations. None, nada, zilch.

            The only reason a virus would want root privs would be to infect system binaries and spread to other users. This paradigm is mostly dead in the Unix world on 99% or more of the machines in use; everybody has their own machine. Spreading from machine to machine is the game, and that simply doesn't require any privileges.

            The bottom line is that if you could trick users into running a Perl script that came through email, which wouldn't be that difficult for a certain percentage of them, you could write a decent worm for Linux. Not a problem now, but when my mother is using Linux, it's a big problem. "But it came from my friend Kate at church and said to save the file and then type this in at the command line..." The extra step will weed out a lot of the real cluebies, to be sure, but with enough of them it'll be a problem.

        • by Sloppy (14984) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:58PM (#9447011) Homepage Journal
          No matter which e-mail client is used, they all allow attachments, and without a virus scanner screening those attachments, computer illiterate users are going to get virii.
          An email client doesn't need to make executing foreign content so easy and transparent, though. Running a trojan should be harder than clicking on an icon in the attachment list. It should require that the user save the attachment, tell the OS that it's an executable program, and then tell the OS to run it. Automatically launching a trojan inside an email just because the user clicked it, is really weird.

          If they are going to keep that horrible UI, then the least they can do is have the subprocess run executables as a nobody-user or otherwise sandbox it where it can't do much harm.

          You can write a program that makes it harder to be stupid. Go ahead and write a Linux program that printfs "Ha ha, got you", attach it, and send it to yourself. Now read that email with pine or elm or even Sylpheed. Now look at what all you have to do, to run it. The difference between what you experience in this experiment, vs what an MS Outlook user experiences, shows exactly what Microsoft did wrong.

          To fight trojans at the OS level, I would add something like a "potentially hostile" attribute to filesystems; something like "setuid nobody". Internet apps should save things with that bit set, and process loaders and viewer apps should take it into account when loading content, and automatically sandbox themselves. Hostile macro in the word processor document that somebody emailed you? No problem, that process isn't running with all the same capabilities that the user has.

        • by Mudcathi (584851) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @07:17PM (#9447178) Journal
          Unfortunately there isn't a program to stop the user being stupid.

          Clippy tried; alas, Clippy was even more stupid than the damn users.

      • Yes, that goes without saying. But badly-behaved software is a fact of life. The fact the others are running Outlook decreases the security of my computer, so a preventative in the OS might be helpful. But it also (as I said above) introduces a single point of attack, which is a bad thing from a security analysis point of view.

        Educating developers would also help, but - even in the present climate - I really don't see much of a push for that.
    • by Xzzy (111297) <sether.tru7h@org> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:00PM (#9445907) Homepage
      > Better low-level access, as well as being able to
      > intercept attempts by something like Outlook to
      > execute arbitrary files.

      Yes, because that's such a major improvement over just fixing Outlook itself. :P Maybe financially that makes sense, they get to sell you Outlook AND the anti-virus, but technically speaking it's just plugging holes in the dam.

      The only AV software that Windows needs is Microsoft to stop making so many bloody ways to infect the system.
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:02PM (#9445942) Homepage Journal
      " it might make sense to have the antivirus scanner as a part of the OS. Better low-level access, as well as being able to intercept attempts by something like Outlook to execute arbitrary files. Having a unified place to control such actions might help security."

      That works until everybody cries "anti-trust!" Damned if they do, damned if they don't. There's a lot of lightening up that needs to happen.
      • That works until everybody cries "anti-trust!" Damned if they do, damned if they don't. There's a lot of lightening up that needs to happen.

        I agree for the most part. Microsoft bought Central Point Systems in the 1990s to integrate Scandisk and Central Point's antivirus scanner (msav) with DOS, but other file system checkers continued to work well and differentiate themselves. As long as Microsoft doesn't keep Symantec, McAfee, et al., from having access to APIs necessary for them to continue their own
    • Just wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by paranode (671698) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:20PM (#9446178)
      We'll be seeing virus updates that clean and fix the problem before there is even a patch out. What's that? You forgot to renew your yearly subscription? Better pony up or you'll be vulnerable for a long time.

      It's just a little scary that a company that is responsible for almost all viruses and worms is now going to benefit financially from such failure to secure their product. They're marketing their shortcomings to you as a new product! What will they think of next?
    • by Teese (89081) <beezel@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:25PM (#9446218)
      But isn't this a conflict of interest? If MS gets additional revenue from an anti-virus program (especially if that program is a subscription based program), then wouldn't there be internal pressure to make the OS "not as secure" so they can get additional money from there customers? If all of these security initiatives to make the OS more secure pay off, then the kill the market for there own anit-virus products.

      Plus it seems odd to make somebody pay more money to overcome some limitations in the original product, kind of like saying "here we sold you a crappy OS, pay us money and we'll protect you from our mistakes! errrrmmmm, but no guarantes, if our anti-virus software doesn't work you can't sue us")

      Of course, there is only so much any OS can do from protecting users from being stupid, and I guess that is what the anti-virus software does. But if the anti-virus software can protect customers from being stupid, couldn't the OS too? (thus negating the previous argument of "there is only so much any OS can do from protecting the users from being stupid")

      I don't know if bundling the Anti-Virus software would be any better, then you get anti-trust concerns. Plus I think it is extremely important to have multiple Anti-Virus software vendors, if there is only one Anti-Software program (which is what would happen if MS bundled the program with the OS), then it would be a lot easier for virus writers to figure out how to bypass the safe-guards.

      Well, those are my rambling thoughts. In conclusion, I guess I think MS should stay out of the anti-virus software market. Maybe they should concentrate on putting better hooks into the OS so that other software vendors could to their jobs better; or better yet, just make the damned OS more secure.

      • by mandalayx (674042) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:02PM (#9446542) Journal
        You're right. There could be a conflict of interest here. Sadly, if you think about it, this is really nothing new. Hang onto your tinfoil hats for a second.

        The fear is that MS will simply not work hard to make their OS secure from viruses, thus generating demand for their associatd virus scanner. In a competitive market, consumers would probably switch OS's, but we have the monopoly and such.

        But listen to this analogy. Suppose you sell a software product. You want to make more money. So you simply leave out some functional parts of the product and sell it as an additional product--or service.

        Isn't that what some companies are doing? Selling software and making money on the service. One can even sell software as a loss leader and make all the money back on the service (see razors and razor blades by Gilette).
      • by Long-EZ (755920) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:13PM (#9446622)

        wouldn't there be internal pressure to make the OS "not as secure" so they can get additional money from their customers?

        You mean Microsoft could actually made Windows LESS SECURE? Holy crap!

        What would it do? Network with your security system, wait until you're gone, unlock the doors to your house and use the outside speaker to blast an invitation for burglars to get free stuff?

    • Oh B*LL F**K*NG SH*T! (please forgive my french)

      Sure it could be benifitial to have low level hooks in outlook (& -express), but in no way do you need to intergrate anything into the OS to be able to do so!

      Simply use/make a registry key pointing to the .DLL to load and the function to call, and anyone can now make a AV solution for outlook

      The only problem is that MS doesnt want any 3rd party software competing on a level playing field, so they keep intergrating applications into the OS, and keep any
    • Well, Microsoft released VSAPI and VSAPI2 in Exchange for this purpose, kind of. Vendors can use these API's to scan email messages that are in the store (the Exchange message database) and disinfect them. Instead of incorporating the functionality of a AV product into the OS, I'd rather see VSAPI improved (specifically to allow deletion, and some performance enhancements, although performance issues maybe more related to the AV products) and something like it included at the OS level to improve the file di
  • Bonus karma (Score:4, Funny)

    by SeanTobin (138474) * <byrdhuntr@ h o t mail.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:54PM (#9445795)
    10 bonus karma points for the first person to write a worm that exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft's AV software!
    • Re:Bonus karma (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coneasfast (690509)
      10 bonus karma points for the first person to write a worm that exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft's AV software!

      you say this as a joke, but seriously there are going to be some losers out there who will attempt to find, and exploit vulnerabilities in their AV app.

      i think MS is making a big mistake and should leave the virus software to 3rd party developers.
      • Re:Bonus karma (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mindfucker (778407) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:27PM (#9446239)
        You say this with the assumption that Microsoft's goal is to keep their customer's computers safe, but it's not.

        Their goal is the same goal as any monopolist: makeing you completely dependent on them so that it's more difficult to switch to a competing product. Once you understand that you can begin to understand the rest of their actions.

    • by 1010011010 (53039) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:01PM (#9445928) Homepage
      Extra 10 bonus points on top of that if the virus also deletes the Product Activiation data!

      "Hello? Microsoft? I need to re-activate Windows and my anti-virus software so I can clean out this virus..."
    • by fred_sanford (678924) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:05PM (#9445993)
      10 bonus karma points for the first person to write a worm that exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft's AV software!

      MS beat us to it. It's called Outlook [satirewire.com].
  • by stecoop (759508) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:55PM (#9445797) Journal
    what makes them think they can keep their AV software up to date?

    It just goes to show you that business isn't about who's right or who's wrong but who can make it sound good.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:55PM (#9445800) Homepage
    Asked if that would hurt sales of competing products, such as Network Associates' McAfee and Symantec's Norton family of products, Nash said that Microsoft said that it would sell its anti-virus program as a separate product from Windows, rather than including it in Windows.

    So? The same thing that happened to WordPerfect is likely going to happen to NAV.

    I am more afraid that MSFT will purposefully allow holes to exist in its OS so that more and more people will buy their AV software. Perhaps that's a bit paranoid but I certainly wouldn't put it past them.
  • by jimi1283 (699887) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:55PM (#9445802)
    1) make crappy software with holes in it like swiss cheese
    2) sell antivirus software
    3) PROFIT!!!
  • Integrated AV (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CommanderData (782739) * <kevinhi@yahooSTRAW.com minus berry> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:55PM (#9445806)
    Maybe Microsoft should just fall back onto it's old standby technique- buy the company. Purchase Symantec and integrate the Norton Anti-virus product directly into the Windows OS!

    It would make the net a safer place for the rest of us if they did so...
  • Ummm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gaewyn L Knight (16566) <vaewynNO@SPAMwwwrogue.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:55PM (#9445808) Homepage Journal
    Is this a little like:
    "Dr Kevorkian... Heal thyself"?
  • Extortion? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davebarz (546161) * <davidNO@SPAMbarzelay.net> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:56PM (#9445815) Homepage

    Sounds like extortion [webster.com] to me.

    They make a buggy OS with holes for viruses, and then require consumers to purchase their own AntiVirus to patch them. This removes motivation for producing a secure operating system because the worse their OS software, the more people will buy their AntiVirus product.

    It seems like they're trying to figure out a way to charge for bugfixes and incremental updates to their security model, but instead of just selling those fixes like Apple (10.0, 10.1, 10.2--which I understand also have lots of new features), this model actually discourages production of good product in the first place.

    Basically, the question must be asked: If they have the capability to provide such a product which tacks onto Windows, why can't they just incorporate it into Windows and make it part of the OS?
    • Re:Extortion? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      "If they have the capability to provide such a product which tacks onto Windows, why can't they just incorporate it into Windows and make it part of the OS?"

      Are you serious? If MS did that, the anti-virus companies would cry "anti-trust!" You all demand better security from Microsoft, they try to provide it, and the pitchforks come out.
    • by shystershep (643874) * <bdshepherd@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:16PM (#9446132) Homepage Journal
      It would be too bad if something were to happen to this here computer, wouldn't it Rocky?

      Why, it sure would, Guido. That's an awfully nice computer. It would be a pity if someone were to, say, surf with IE on it, or open attachments in Outlook, wouldn't it Guido?

      Or even Outlook Express, Rocky.

      Hey, now -- that's going a little too far. I do got standards, you know? No women, no kids, and no using Outlook Express.

    • Re:Extortion? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)
      I agree that it sounds a bit like extortion. I think the primary point here is that this shouldn't need to be an additional product. Most virus/worm/spyware problems come from bad security design or security holes in the OS. It's like a boat-maker selling you a brand-new boat that, because of a design flaw, floods when you put it in water, and then that very same boat-maker offering to sell you a kit to water-proof your hull.

      With any product, if the original manufacturer knows of a serious design flaw t

  • by z_gringo (452163) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445828)
    They used to sell their own anti-virus software, but then they left that market because they felt it was best to focus on their core products, and that other companies who specialized in anti-virus software were better equipped to sell that kind of software.

    What has changed since then to make them want to get back in the game?


    • What has changed since then to make them want to get back in the game?


      The bought out an AV company. It was GeCAD, a medium-sized vendor that provided the market's current 'best solution' in terms of price, quality, and reliability for *nix networks. They both acquired AV technology and removed a key market stronghold for the *nix community. Go here [theregister.co.uk] for more info.
    • by mpaque (655244) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @07:19PM (#9447196)
      What's changed?

      The revenues of the anti-virus companies have grown significantly. Symantec (SYMC) has FY2004 revenue of US$1,870 million. Just 5 years ago they had revenue of US$632.2 million.

      A triple in revenue, above the billion dollar mark, is enough to get even Microsoft interested. They are not inclined to leave money on the table. Selling an anti-virus program, particularly with the now-popular subscription model, is an easy way to add revenue.
  • by Mz6 (741941) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445829) Journal
    This might be one of the things that they SHOULD integrate!

    Whew.. OK, I got that out. Mark me as flamebait or troll if you want, but this should be integrated with Windows. Of course, not everyone will agree, but hear me out first. First, let's put aside the comments that they should build more secure software and that they should be more focused on security than features. The problem is that it's already created and we have to deal with what we (and the 95% of others using Windows) have and not what should have been. The reason why it should be integrated is because if it's being developed by Microsoft, for their own OS, you would imagine that they might have a small niche into what these viruses are going to do and how they would affect the OS. They created the OS, they know the code behind it, and could possibly help prevent more of the "stupid" users who open the email with the "cute" bears. Let's also assume that the AV software was well built with a few minor security bugs that are easily fixable (I said ASSUME :)).

    Since Windows has reached market saturation, we really do have to think about the people outside of /. that are not as informed as us. They don't know about certain viruses or worms unless it's on CNN and they are ones to infrequently update the OS (and AV definition files) because they don't see anything wrong with the way it's running now. Virus protection needs to be something that's seamless to these users because they just don't know any better.

    *Awaiting flame responses....*

    • At CES Bill hinted that they were working on anti-virus software but implied it would be a part of the operating system. Could you imagine the crowd turning on him if he said you have to buy one product from microsoft to run your machine and another product to secure it?
  • by AsparagusChallenge (611475) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445840)
    Conflict of interest.

    Will the projected earnings from AV division affect security choices?
  • IIRC (Score:5, Informative)

    by foidulus (743482) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445842)
    Microsoft actually made an anti-virus programs back in the days of DOS/Win 3.11. My first computer came bundled with it. However, the only virus I ever got back then(Doom2 death), it couldn't remove. Though it did alert me to the fact that the files grew by 666 bytes(they don't write 'em like they used to, do they). It also had this nice little 16 color doctor you could watch as your files were being scanned.
  • by seizer (16950) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:57PM (#9445843) Homepage
    ...I can't think of any vulnerability that was widely exploited before Microsoft issued a patch for it. They've usually been fairly prompt in releasing patches to vulnerabilities they're notified of, and those which they discover in house.

    That's off the top of my head, the best way to post on Slashdot :-)
  • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:58PM (#9445857) Homepage
    In other news, Benson and Hedges plan to open their own crematorium franchise; "You go out smokin'!". Rumours also spread of plans by Mc Donalds to open a gymnasium adjacent to each grease restaurant, and Darl Mc Bride, Steve Balmer and Steve Jobs to co-author book entitled "Altruism: The secret to success!! (subtitled: Empowering your workforce with kindness)"...
    • Re:Other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jafac (1449) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:41PM (#9446355) Homepage
      . . . in other news;
      Former Oil Company Halliburton executive, now US Vice President lobbies to start a destabilizing war causing oil markets to fluctuate.

      Extremely Wealthy President pushes through tax cuts which disproportionately reward the extremely wealthy.

      . . . ah, screw it. I could go on all day about these two, but I just don't have the heart anymore.
  • Seperate, until... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:58PM (#9445859)
    Microsoft said that it would sell its anti-virus program as a separate product from Windows, rather than including it in Windows.

    They'll keep it seperate alright... until it's been out for a while and they don't gain any market share away from competitors. Then it'll be silently built in. There, but not enabled. Then it will be enabled by default, but with the ability to disable it. Then it will be so "tightly integrated" with the OS that you can't turn it off or your computer "will not operate properly"!

    Hey, it could happen... and has with previous products.
  • by tktk (540564) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:58PM (#9445867)
    1. Create a fertile ground for viruses with Windows.

    2. Sell anti-virus software that 'somehow' works the best.

    3. Take over the world.

  • About time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:58PM (#9445878) Homepage Journal
    Just for the record, Microsoft produced an antivirus program back in the DOS 6.2/Win 3.1 days. I, and many other people, wondered why they stopped when they released Win95.
    • Re:About time! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NullProg (70833)
      Marketing/Gates killed it. If you recall, MS stated Win95 didn't rely on DOS (Remember DrDos?). DOS was dead and therefore no reason to have a DOS based anti-virus scanner. This was the justification for selling Win95 at $80 vs $40 for Win3x. Microsoft did everything in it's power to distance Win9x from DOS.

      Enjoy,
  • Logical Fallacy... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcs_metacon.ca (656767) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:59PM (#9445881)
    There's a problem with the idea of them selling the AV software separately from Windows... they always claimed that they had to bundle IE because browsing the web was an integral part of the OS experience... well... when you're talking about Windows, having AV software & keeping it up to date is even MORE of an integral part of the experience than web browsing!
  • Trust issues? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:59PM (#9445892) Journal
    Surely if they demonstrated that they made an OS vulnerable to the virus of the day, why should they be trusted to make the software that protects against/fixes said virus?

    There are also definite shades of Dilbert here, where the employees who write the software are paid for every bug they remove from the software. It sounds outlandish but MS have demonstrated some pretty evil business practices; might it be possible for them to put a vulnerability into Windows that allowed viruses which could only be combatted by MS Virus Scan - it could be done in a way that means Norton or McAfee could be slapped with the DMCA if they knew the encryption to access the bit of Windows affected by the virus, but it would be a triviality for the virus writer to break said encryption since they're not worried about the law. </tinfoil hat>
    • Re:Trust issues? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by happyfrogcow (708359)
      Another trust issue:

      Will it consider software in directories that have a GPL license to be a virus?

      Will it consider the device driver i wrote for an old graphics card to be a virus?

      Will it consider IBM's web based office productivity suite a virus?
  • by Simon (S2) (600188) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:59PM (#9445897) Homepage
    you buy protection from the same people you have to be protected from.
  • Holy Shit (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) * <mrpuffypants@gma3.14159il.com minus pi> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:01PM (#9445924)
    This discussion need a fucking tinfoil Turban over it. Get ready for your conspiracies, folks!
  • by mshultz (632780) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:03PM (#9445957)

    My only question is: If they can't seem to patch their OS fast enough, what makes them think they can keep their AV software up to date?"

    ... Because there's a lot more pressure to keep AV software updated as fast as possible. If a user is not happy with the way Norton manages their AV updates, they can switch to McAfee with little inconvenience. But Microsoft is under no direct threat if they wait an extra day, delaying an OS patch, since switching operating systems is a much more serious undertaking.

    Microsoft clearly has the resources together to put together a good product- look at Office, for example. They're not idiots, and I'm sure they realize the urgency of issuing timely AV updates. If they made that one of their priorities, they could probably do a very good job at it.

  • wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ricochet81 (707864) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:19PM (#9446165)
    They used to blame AV companies for making virii to generate business, but a company that makes the vulnerabilities in the first place in its OS... wow. let the conspiracies start flowing.
  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:20PM (#9446179)
    "Hay Balmer, our anti-virus software sales are slipping lately. Let's add remote scripting capability into solitare."
  • by hc00jw (655349) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:21PM (#9446185)

    Fantastic! When can we expect a Mac version?

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:22PM (#9446198) Homepage
    No problems. No big deal. If you are running Windows either because you have bought into the Microsoft Party Line or for some reason you are required to run Windows, than who better to make a Windows virus killer? Only Microsoft can take advantage of the secret hidden proprietary back-doors and APIs. I mean, look: If your going to sleep with Bill Gates, you're already somewhat dirty, so why not go all the way? Ah, what a visual...
  • MSAV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rfernand79 (643913) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:30PM (#9446255)
    They already had one! It was included in MS-DOS 6.2, called MSAV. It sucked anyway.
  • How ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by NynexNinja (379583) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:44PM (#9446381)
    Microsoft selling Anti-Virus software is like al-Qaida selling life insurance.
  • TCO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tallpaul (1010) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:47PM (#9446404)
    What I wonder is - the cost of Anti-Virus software included in all these "Linux vs Windows TCO" comparisons.

    Microsoft themselves making AV software is tantamount to admitting that it is pretty much a requirement that you have AV software in order to run any Windows machine (I know I, and most other systems administrators wouldn't considering running Windows without it). At current market prices for Norton/McAfee, that adds about $40 for the first year (license plus 1 year virus signature updates) + $20/yr afterwards (for virus signature updates). Due to the mfr dropping support, you have to pay $40 every couple of years for a new version also. Admittedly you can get site licenses and buy licenses in bulk which reduces the cost.

  • Writings on the wall (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neurocutie (677249) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:52PM (#9446457)
    Guess its time to short Symmantec and McAfee stock... the variants are endless, but they all lead to one thing: MS "Antivirus" eventually getting 100% "market share".

    Let's see...

    MS AV is the most effective AV product because they can put in special hooks in Windows/Outlook to allow better AV protection and detection, but only MS AV knows how to use those hooks, or...

    MS^H^HSome hacker can "inadvertently" release a virus of their own that only MS AV can stop (for any number of reasons, indeed, who would know better how to write a nasty virus for Windows but MS itself, and of course the best way to drive MS AV sales is for there to be lots of nasty viruses running around), or...

    MS AV is quickest to protect against new viruses because Windows can be altered to add in special virus detection and reporting services that report new virus data directly back to MS, or...

    MS AV will include and become the only or the most effective way of getting new patches (ostensibly just against new viri, but in actuality, all Windows bugs), ala Windows Update (for a subscription fee, of course). Free Windows Update may remain, but the MS AV will become the enterprise standard for updating and protecting Windows, (again for a fee, just a way of charging for patches), or...

    Given better internal virus detection within Windows, it may be possible to construct a Windows "immune system" that learns how to protect itself. Intimate access to Windows internals required.

    Then there is always the, "We changed our minds and decided to bundle MS AV in the next release of Windows (since it was hard to find enough other reasons for customers to see that Windows XXXXP is a value-added proposition for $200 a copy)".

    The beginning of the end for yet another sector of the 3rd Windows software/utilities market...

  • Customer demand (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @05:54PM (#9446477)
    I'm not saying Microsoft is being dragged kicking and screaming into antivirus software, but there's definately a demand from customers for Microsoft to provide end-to-end solutions. People get pissy when they see Microsoft doesn't have antivirus software. Their attitude is: You got me into this mess, now get me out. Not a microsoft fan boy (I've got slack 9.1 at home), but to be fair this is something they're probably doing to just to get people off their back.
  • An ethical dilemma? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by usermilk (149572) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:39PM (#9448535)
    There is an obvious conflict of interests with Microsoft releasing anti-virus software for their own operating system, but one has to wonder if it is unethical. The two trains of thought I am following are as follows:

    Microsoft is not making the viruses that affect their operating system. By making a piece of software to protect their customers from these viruses they are providing a service, this service is not illegal or immoral. What would be immoral is Microsoft abruptly ceasing the release of patches to protect end-users from virus exploits. Many viruses exist only because their is an exploit in the operating system for their taking advantage of. If Microsoft no longer patches these exploits in an effort to make an extra few bucks, they would be acting immorally.

    I, however see their anti-virus as a seperate outlet. There are users who don't want to patch their operating system. If you can sell these users anti-virus software which automatically updates its definitions, they won't worry about a need to patch their operating system to protect them from viruses. It will be done through the anti-virus software. Hell, the software can automate Windows Update for them, and patch their system automagically. The rest of us who don't but M$-AV will have to patch the operating system ourselves.

    The second train of thought is business oriented. Microsoft is a business, and in the words of my friend James, "...businesses aren't in the habit of accepting a decline in profits." By patching their operating system and allowing persons who do not purchase their anti-virus software to be safe from viruses, Microsoft may not make any profit from their anti-virus software. The conspiracy theorist in me brought the light the idea that Microsoft may actually create exploits or viruses in an effort to help their anti-virus software suceed. This thought is ludacrious. Microsoft would be risking jail time if they created viruses. If they created exploits they would be risking horrible publicity.

    Viruses can exist without exploits, macro viruses take advantage of something that cannot be patched, automation. Microsoft just sees an open market and wants to take advantage of it. I see no ethical dilemma at all, just capitalism.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:42AM (#9451171) Homepage
    We all know that Microsoft has been itching to get us to pay yearly for the use of their OS. This is their attempt to get that gravy train rolling.

    Sure, Microsoft's antivirus app will be a separate product. Sure it will not be bundled with Windows. However, I'd bet anything that it WILL be bundled with new computers via special deals to manufacturers.

    After a year, those new computer buyers will get messages to pay some money to continue receiving updates.

    Once we're used to paying every year (or every month?!) for antivirus updates, Microsoft will start charging us yearly for other updates.

    Microsoft will be smart and will start out with a reasonable price. But it won't be too long before we're paying about $80 a year for the right to use our computers.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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