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Microsoft free Security Essentials launched

Graham Titterington | Oct. 5, 2009
Microsoft has launched its long-awaited free anti-malware product, called Security Essentials.

Going forward we expect that all anti-malware products that lack close integration with wider web security tools will be increasingly hampered by their narrow view of the complex threat landscape that they are facing. As criminals become more sophisticated and their attacks embrace more attack vectors, narrow anti-malware products will become less effective. This is a danger of the Microsoft approach.

Competitors must shout about their added value

It is inevitable that all security vendors will lose a slice of the low end of their customer base. Since the marginal cost of a sale in software products is low compared with the product development and overhead costs, this will have a disproportionate impact on their profitability. The market resembles that of melons, in New York parlance, where customers have little basis for making informed choices and tend to select on price alone. Vendors must bolster their position by offering a proposition that is demonstrably better than the free option. Since it is hard to prove that one anti-malware product is better than another, even if it is, either they must show that they offer a more comprehensive range of protections or they must offer related services beyond IT security, such as data back-up. The latter option is easier to sell as it does not require the vendor to educate the market about the intricacies of online threats. In either case the market will be reshaped.

Graham Titterington is a principal analyst at Ovum, specialising in IT security and business continuity. 


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