Microsoft to Drop OneCare Security Product

Malware writers sobbed Tuesday as Microsoft announced that it will cease sales of its security product, Windows Live OneCare, as of June 30th, 2009. Instead, Microsoft announced that it would begin shipping a free product, codenamed "Morro," in the second half of 2009.

The new offering will be less of a resource hog, according to the press release, which would obviously enable Microsoft to protect PCs in developing nations more effectively. In other words, they want to make sure they have some sort of product covering all the security holes in their OSes.

But seriously, let's face it, the product never really gained a large market share, as it was buggy and performed poorly in various antivirus comparatives.

Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft, said:

"Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously. This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware."
Microsoft went on to say "Morro" would use the same award-winning (eh?) engine in current products, but would eliminate extra (and resource-using) features, such as systems management, printer sharing, and backup, which were added to more recent versions of OneCare.

Anticipating questions from OneCare subscribers, Microsoft posted a FAQ on its OneCare blog:

Q: Will I continue to receive up-to-date virus signatures through the end of my paid subscription?

A: Yes! Microsoft will ensure all current customers remain protected through the life of their subscriptions.

Q: Will my subscription automatically be converted to the new no-cost offering?

A: You will be given the opportunity to opt in to using our new offering when the new solution is available.

Q: What do you recommend if my OneCare subscription ends before the free solution is available?

A: Having current anti-virus and anti-spyware protection is important. You can renew your Windows Live OneCare subscription until the new solution is available. We will ensure you remain protected through the life of your subscriptions.

Q: What do you recommend I do at the end of my OneCare subscription if I am running Windows XP?

A: You can renew your OneCare subscription until the new solution is available. After that, you can choose our new offering for core antimalware protection. A variety of third-party consumer security offerings are also available.

Q: Will the new solution be available in my country?

A: At a minimum, the new solution will initially be available to consumers in all markets where Windows Live OneCare is currently available.

Q. Will I still be able to store my photos with OneCare online backup?

A. Yes. If you are current online backup subscriber, you can continue to back up copies of your photos using the Online Backup feature.
Now, while you might be thinking that this announcement ought to make AV firms happy, if Microsoft can produce an effective security solution --- free (cross your fingers on the effective part) --- that might be even more of a threat than OneCare was.

There are quite a few free security products available already, some highly recommended, but none with the name "Microsoft" attached to them. We'll see what Microsoft comes up with, next year.