Improving Global Access to Core PC Protection

REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 18, 2008 — As part of its commitment to provide users with a trustworthy computing experience, Microsoft has announced plans to offer a new, core security solution for consumers. Available at no additional cost,this new solution will focus on delivering easy-to-use protection from threats that can place personal information at risk and harm system performance.

This new anti-malware offering, scheduled to be released in the second half of 2009, will provide protection from a variety of threats – including viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans – and is specifically designed to address the demands of smaller PC form factors and the rapid increases in the incidence of global malware. This solution will be suitable for customers in emerging markets where infection rates tend to be higher,1 and where demand for entry-level PCs makes it even more important that protection be available that does not sacrifice system performance.

As part of the effort to protect the broadest possible range of consumers, Microsoft has also announced it will phase out sales of its Windows Live OneCare subscription offering in order to focus on removing hardware and cost barriers that can limit access to core malware protection.

PressPass spoke with Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management at Microsoft, about the company’s new anti-malware solution, and how Microsoft is aligning its products to meet the security needs of today’s consumers.

PressPass: Why has Microsoft decided to offer a no-cost anti-malware solution?

Barzdukas: The decision to offer a new anti-malware solution, code-named “Morro,” at no additional cost to consumers is driven by our commitment to provide a trustworthy computing experience. We know that there are still some 60 percent of consumers in developed markets, and even more in emerging markets, that don’t have up-to-date security protection on their PCs, and we want to help provide that core level of protection.

In some ways the current business model for consumer security is not meeting the needs of many consumers, including those in emerging markets where cost and hardware requirements can limit adoption of core security protection. This change is meant to address those issues. For instance, many of today’s consumer security models are based on annual subscriptions that need a credit card to renew. Given that many consumers in markets like Brazil, India and China do not have access to those types of payment services, it can be difficult to secure and maintain quality malware protection. There is also the issue of limited bandwidth and the growth of locally produced malware to consider.

Even in developed markets, there are still obstacles to maximizing protection. Free trials can confuse consumers as to whether or not their PC is secure, and procrastination when it comes to renewing a paid service can mean that consumers aren’t getting the most up-to-date protection.

By offering a solution that removes these barriers, Microsoft is reaffirming its commitment to provide core anti-malware functionality to the majority of today’s PC users who either don’t have protection, can’t afford quality protection, or don’t keep it up date.

PressPass: How will this effort benefit consumers?

Barzdukas: Providing access to a trusted solution at no charge is the right thing to do to help protect our customers. Through this new offering we are removing barriers to adoption and providing consumers with the core malware protection they need from a company they can trust. We’ll also be able to continue capturing threat intelligence that will help our security researchers develop new signatures and continue protection enhancements from which all consumers — and enterprises — can benefit.

PressPass: Will this new solution just be a pared-down or free version of Windows Live OneCare?

Barzdukas: No. This offering is not a free version of Windows Live OneCare. “Morro” represents a new offering that is designed in response to market changes and consumer needs. We hear from consumers that they need core malware protection in low-bandwidth scenarios, or that will run on less powerful machines. That’s why we will design “Morro” to have a smaller footprint and to use fewer computing resources. This new solution will not offer or support multi-PC “circle” management, printer sharing, performance-enhancing tools such as disk defragmenting, or any of the backup and restore capabilities that make up the Windows Live OneCare suite.

While the new solution will not be based on Windows Live OneCare, it will utilize the same core malware engine used across Microsoft’s line of anti-malware products, meaning consumers will have access to a trusted solution backed by Microsoft’s global security research and response system.

PressPass: Why has Microsoft decided to discontinue sales of Windows Live OneCare?

Barzdukas: When we launched Windows Live OneCare in 2005, Microsoft was one of the first companies to offer an all-in-one solution that not only offered protection from malware and spyware, but also provided additional features such as printer sharing, networking and performance tuning. Those features make a lot of sense in multi-PC households, but aren’t really of much help to consumers in emerging markets who are often buying their first PC and really just need a core security solution. We want to focus on the core security solution, and work harder at getting more consumers around the world to have a better and more trustworthy experience on their PCs.

PressPass: How will Windows Live OneCare subscribers be affected by this change?

Barzdukas: Current Windows Live OneCare subscribers won’t notice any changes and there is no action needed. We will continue to support all of our subscribers for the terms of their subscription and help ensure their PCs are protected and up to date. Once the new offering is available, existing Windows Live OneCare subscribers will be given the option to migrate or to choose a different security solution from a variety of third-party consumer security providers.

PressPass: What does the decision to discontinue Windows Live OneCare say about Microsoft’s commitment to consumer security?

Barzdukas: Protecting consumers and ensuring a positive Windows experience is our primary goal, and we will continue to invest in security efforts that benefit the majority of today’s consumers. We’ve been making great strides in improving the security of all of our software, and we continue to hold that commitment.

PressPass: How will the decision to end Windows Live OneCare subscriptions affect other offerings, including Windows Live OneCare for Server?

Barzdukas: Microsoft will discontinue new sales of Windows Live OneCare for Server in June 2009. Windows Live OneCare for Server subscribers will continue to receive the same great protection, updates and support for the duration of their subscriptions.

PressPass: Will Microsoft continue to offer anti-malware solutions for its enterprise customers?

Barzdukas: Absolutely. We will continue to offer anti-malware through our Forefront line of products, which continues on a path of strong growth. Forefront products are being deployed by increasing numbers of enterprises, with thousands of Microsoft security partners certified to resell and deploy Forefront products. We have a strong product road map with the next generation of Forefront, code-named “Stirling,” and have recently brought our identity and security businesses together to drive greater integration and innovation for enterprise customers.

We will also continue to participate in certification and testing opportunities for all Microsoft products that utilize the company’s malware protection engine. This includes Forefront Client Security, which has been certified by the International Computer Security Association Labs (ICSA) and West Coast Labs and received the VB100 award for malware detection.

To find out more about Windows Live OneCare visit the Windows Live OneCare Virtual Presskit.

1 Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 5, January–June 2008