Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system will come built in with beefier anti-virus security software than its predecessors. Is this move anti-competitive, or simply good news for PC users?
Microsoft is reportedly adding to its Defender tool, already built in to Windows, and adding some of the best bits of Microsoft Security Essentials.
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is Microsoft’s anti-virus and anti-malware product. It’s already available free of charge and has performed well in our previous anti-virus tests, so why wouldn’t you want this to be built in to Windows 8? I have my reasons.
Sarah Kidner doesn’t want integrated anti-virus
I remember a time when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser wasn’t part of the operating system. You were free to choose any browser you’d like.
Microsoft’s decision to bundle the OS and browser together wasn’t without controversy. The European Commission investigated Microsoft for anti-competitive practices, which resulted a choice of web browser being required when you install Windows.
This has enabled fair competition and has driven Microsoft’s browser rivals to innovate. In turn this has seen IE toppled as the default browser of choice.
If Microsoft is to build anti-virus security into Windows 8, I’d like to see a similar approach – users should be able to choose from a range of both free and paid-for software during the installation process.
Personally, I’d probably still plump for MSE as it performs well in our tests and doesn’t lock you into an annual subscription fee; but that isn’t the point. Giving us a choice will spur the creators of paid-for anti-virus software to up their game and innovate.
There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to keep a company on its toes, otherwise we’re simply handing Microsoft the security software market on a plate.
Andy Vandervell is up for built-in anti-virus
Competition is an emotive thing. In the free market it’s considered essential (‘monopolies are bad’ is an almost universally agreed fact) whereas in public services it sparks serious, often polarising debate. But, in this case, what’s good for competition isn’t necessarily good for the consumer.
The EU’s argument with Microsoft and its bundling of IE in Windows is a case in point. It might have been tough for competitors, but how could Microsoft not bundle IE in with Windows? How, in a sane world, could a ‘state-of-the-art’ operating system not have a pre-installed web browser? It’s the most used program on almost every PC in the world.
And now Microsoft has decided to integrate anti-virus at the core of Windows 8, the same question arises – how have we lived so long without this? For years we’ve battled with generating awareness about computer security – always install anti-virus, we said. Wouldn’t life have been so much easier if Windows had it out-of-the-box already?
The reason it didn’t, of course, was Microsoft feared being dragged through the courts. In other words, consumers were denied a better, more secure product because Microsoft feared legal reprisals.
Belated as it is then, Microsoft’s move has to be a good thing. And given free anti-virus has been available for several years now and the industry hasn’t imploded, I think we can safely say it can cope with a little ‘free’ competition.
Do you agree with Sarah or Andy? Will having anti-virus software built in to Windows 8 be good news for your PC’s security, or will it stifle competition and lock us into Microsoft’s software?
Should Microsoft's own anti-virus software be built in to Windows 8?
Yes - Windows should be secure out-of-the-box (61%, 624 Votes)
No - you should have a choice of anti-virus (28%, 288 Votes)
I don't mind either way (11%, 110 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,021