back to article MS freebie anti-virus scanner auto-downloads provoke more anger

Panda Security has joined with Trend Micro in attacking Microsoft for offering its Security Essentials freebie security scanner as an automatic download. Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) has been available for more than a year, but it only began offering the software via its software update mechanism last month. The download …

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Bronze badge

Cue...

A couple of years buggering about until an anti-malware election screen is forced upon MS.

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Anonymous Coward

So have I understood right?

Anti-virus vendors (who keep telling us that we ought to have anti-virus software on our machines) are complaining that MS warn us if we haven't got anti-virus software and suggest a solution.

I would have assumed that this played into their hands....

One installs the MS software, finds that it isn't very good and decides to replace it with a one of their offerings.

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The thing is...

it's actually pretty good. :)

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Thumb Up

With you on that one

That is all.

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MS Security Essentials is good

My ideal AV software is one which does what it's supposed to, doesn't destablize the system, and stays the hell out of the way as much as it can. So far MS Antivirus has fit that role perfectly for me. The UI is minimalist, the program rarely even shows it's there except the odd occasions it might detect something, usually an email attachment. Being free is the icing on the cake.

My experience of 3rd party AV software usually ends in tears. Either they hog too much CPU, nag me too much, or come with arcane or bloated UIs which are a chore to navigate and use. I'm especially pissed off with Norton which seems to be preinstalled as crapware on new PCs these days and almost immediately starts nagging and trying to scare users to subscribe. Crapware / scareware might not be as bad as malware but it's a point on the same line of nuisance software.

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Anonymous Coward

Nagging

Why, please tell me, did the people at Avast think it was important to incorporate a voice synth to tell me that my virus definitions have been updated? Especially when the default update schedule is to update at something like 4am.

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Bronze badge

Re: Nagging

Well, how else are they going to convince your sleep-addled brain that your house has very geeky ghosts.

(was it built on a Ataris E.T. games cartridge graveyard?)

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FAIL

Preferences

You can disable the update alert, or sounds altogether, if you actually click on the UI and adjust your personal preferences.

On a business note, your AV customers feel all warm and fuzzy if they get a frequent reminder that their AV software is actually doing something.

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Re: Nagging

You do know that you can turn Avast's voice announcements off, don't you?

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Bronze badge

Maybe Avasssst sounds to them like

A Voiccce....?

LOL!

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Grenade

Re: Re: Nagging

Whether you can turn it off or not is immaterial. The question that needs answering is "WTF is the point of this, apart from adding bloat for bloat's sake?".

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now and then it is better to turn it off

Don't watch the whole thing... fast forward to 00:50 ;o)

http://wwe.sify.com/shows/videos/NXT_A_J_vs_Nikki_Bella-283571

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Anonymous Coward

I did once I realised it was a feature.

It was the first thing I did (after changing my bed sheets).

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I like it

"The download is only offered to Windows users who aren't already running anti-virus software."

Not true, on a recent virus riddled PC, McAffee was installed (no surprise there) and after the clean up, but before uninstalling McAffee, MSE was offered as an optional download.

I wanted to get rid of McAffee and install MSE anyway, but just pointing out that it does get offered even with a virus checker installed.

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Flame

McAffee

Perhapse they don't recognise McAffee as anti-virus software.

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Happy

McAfee

does anyone?

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Opera Precident

If Opera can force M$'s hand with browsers I'm sure the same can be done with A/V products

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WTF?

And the problem is?

If someone does not have an anti-virus platform installed by the time they've been using a computer long enough for Windows Update to kick in then they're probably unlikely to ever get one. In that case, I see absolutely nothing wrong with MS pushing one out. Even a MS product is going to be better than nothing and if it helps keep the worst of the nasties out then all the better.

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but windows update kicks in as soon as you boot up the machine.....

Install windows, configure internet, immediately download hundreds of megabytes of critical security fixes. Or, if you are smart, download them on a different PC and install them before you configure the internet....

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Go

So?

it's not like the kerfuffle over browsers or media players after all.

It's for protecting users of their operating systems. Their patches, Windows Defender and their Malicious Software Removal Tool have been doing this for a while already, I have no issue with MS taking more steps to do this.

Have been running Security Essentials for several months and love the lack of bloat that Symantec et al seem to offer these days.

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Silver badge

If their OS...

...wasn't so ripe for the picking in the first place, most of this would be moot.

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Welcome

Not a Browser war

Anyone remember the day of Sygate and its ilk with addon computer firewalls of yore? Once Windows bundled a firewall in XP SP2 (which IMHO is part of an OS anyway) who protested? Might as well complain MS includes Wordpad which is "unfair" to the text editors of the world. Bundling "Edit" in the cmd prompt is unfair to VI and Emacs. Providing Windows Media Player is unfair to iTunes and WinAmp.

Regardless, if MSE proves worthless (and it will be deemed so by the user the first time their computer gets infected and MSE fails to prevent such), then other AVs will be sought out. With the stipulation of being installed from Microsoft Update (which is not a trivial thing to get enrolled in for the lay user who doesn't read screens), I see this as definately a moot point. Perhaps the statistics will be the tell-all. Lets wait and see.

In closing, I'd rather have MSE by default than McAfee or Norton anyday.

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Stop

This teat is no longer in service.

Please suckle elsewhere.

In other words, I have no sympathy for those who trade on the weakness in one piece of software, if that weakness is then reduced or removed. It's only 'unfair' if you happen to be a parasite in the first place.

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Heart

@Loyal Commenter

Best post this year. Please can our vulture-shaped overlords have a "post of the year" award?

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Gates Halo

freebie security scanners = malware

If freebie security scanners werent so keen on popping up warnings and false positives to scare the users into buying their product (even if their system is completely clean), microsoft could offer alternative free scanners via their software channel. Atleast the microsoft product doesn't do any of this mischief.

Microsoft ought to do this the same way subscriptions work on something like adblock for Firefox. Include virus scanning by default in the OS, and include the microsoft 'subscription' by default. Then allow all virus scanner companies an opportunity to add their signature file as a subscription service (and, if they want to offer a free one next to their pay one, fine). Subscribe to all the signatures you want, same scanner engine for all. Problem solved. How many times do we need to re-implement a virus scanning engine by hooking all the core subsystem parts? Let Microsoft just provide this and then anti-virus companies can focus on what they do best, finding viruses.

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Malware!

No freebie anti-virus in world gives false positives to scare you, the programs that do actually are malware!

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FAIL

freebie security scanners <> malware

"If freebie security scanners werent so keen on popping up warnings and false positives to scare the users"

I fear you need to learn to distinguish between free scanners and rogue antivirus. I've not seen free scanners that "pop up warning and false positives", at least no more of the latter than say, Trend. Norton's free scanner is borderline, mind. I'd suggest that if you are seeing a lot of "you have 60,000 viruses" type messages, you don't have a virus scanner at all but and infection.

Fail.

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Gates Horns

Is it just me...

...or is unwanted software which automatically downloads and installs pretty much the definition of malware?

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FAIL

Roughly, yes

Good thing Microsoft Security Essentials is not automatically downloaded and installed then.

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FAIL

Errr......

...you do have a choice. You can select one of the several installation otpions, such as don't download updates automatically, or download, but don't install.

Still, trolls fnd it hard to read past the 1st line of any bit of text.

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FAIL

I fail reading comprehension.

I wasn't deliberately trolling. Honest.

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DT
Grenade

I presume McCrappie and friends

would sue Microsoft if they built a secure O/S which rendered their product unnecessary?

/hypothetical

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Beat me to it!

They're complaining that Microsoft are offering free applications to reduce the dangers from flaws in their own software.

If they were able to rebuild the OS in to a completely secure offering instead, what would these people do?

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FAIL

Beating around the wrong bush

No, they are complaining that MS are competing with them to sell products. Since MS can always get their offer in first, they feel this is somewhat unfair. It's the Netscape argument.

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Anonymous Coward

Cleaning up the net...

must take priority over corporate squables, to be fair if MS had built a proper system in the first place they would not be in business anyway.

I have long argued that proper AV should be built in to windows at the core. and I look forward to the day that MS wakes up. ( I know but I live in Hope... and no, not Derbyshire!)

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and the problem is?

there are millions of PC's in the word infected by the various botnets, if this can be automatically downloaded onto those PC's and clean the infection off (no idea if it can), then that has to be good idea!

the people whose PC's are riddled with viruses don't have anti-virus software, nor have they any idea how to install it, or where to get it from. they are virtually computer-illiterate. Panda won't lose any customers, as these people are unlikely to ever hear of Panda or their software.

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Go

or they use counterfeit Windows copies!!

Nobody mentions here the number of computers in the world that run fake copies of Windows. Have you visited asia etc... probably there 1 in 2 PC are running fake copies. Unfortunately they don't get updates or any other protection and they end up part of the 'network'. They deserve it though!

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Hmm...

I've just removed AVG from a family member's ageing Thinkpad which runs XP and put MSE onto it. The result is that it goes much, much faster, I have had AVG as my scanner of choice for a long time now, but it's just getting too slow. MSE also picked up a couple of nasties that AVG hadn't on its first scan. I have had a similar experience with my Vista/64 box.

If they want me back as a customer, they need to make their product better, it's that simple.

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Agreed

I was a paying AVG user, but the last few versions felt so heavily bloated.

I tried MSE out on a whim and was amazed that it did exactly what it needed to, and nothing else.

It can be a bit slow to complete actions like "delete" and "quarantine" on files, but it seems to be proactive in finding the threats without draining free cycles.

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Flame

Stay away from AVG

I have a very low view of AVG after it failed to recognize conficker on a USB hard drive. Because it was a hard drive as a pose to a USB stick. Not to mention the bloat. Avast Home (much better with v5) gets my vote though security essentials is pretty OK.

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Boffin

AVG went downhill...

... after version 7. I was a happy paying customer until AVG V8 came out, caused havok (eating cycles, false positives, missed infections, clunky interface, network interference, etc) with my system.

These days, I'm running the free Sophos on my Macbook (which is quite good incidentally) and Norton 2010 on my Win7 box, and I hate to admit it, N2010 isn't half bad either (apart from the chunky, web-like interface)...

... boffin because ... well ... they like to play with virii

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WTF?

Optional Download

It's an optional download, not a critical one so no antitrust here, just AV vendors wringing their hands at the the thought of lost business.

MSE is actually rather good, low CPU overhead and virtually no excessive bloat, I'm about to replace AVG Free with it in fact.

Maybe the AV industry should work on things like cutting out the bloat and making definition updates cheaper (nay free?) if they want rest a little easier at night...

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Bronze badge

Better isn't the same as good

MSE might be better than AVG, but that's like saying Kylie Minogue is better than Geri Halliwell. They're both crap, it's just that one is slightly less crap than the other.

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Dead Vulture

Re: Optional

Er, yes, can I just flag up that rather important fact. It is *not* an automatic download in any sense that a native English speaker would infer from the word "automatic".

It is merely offered. Even if you are set to install all crticial updates automatically, you don't get this one, because it isn't classified as critical. You actually have to click once to peruse the list of recommended updates and once again to actually select this one. That's what we techy types call a "manual" download, because it requires effort on our part.

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Go

Which AV do you recommend, then

? I do agree that AVG is crap nowadays.

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Anonymous Coward

personally

I quite like Avira.

AVG got too big and slow so I replaced it with Avira on all my home machines. After reading the above comments though, I may give MSE a whirl on one to see how it compares.

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Re: Recommendation?

In the bad old days (Windows 95/98) I would insist that all my friends and relatives used at the very least AVG and ZoneAlarm. Those products became more bloated and deliberately scary over time. These days, Windows Firewall and MSE are more than adequate for the average home user. Limited User Accounts are a great idea on XP and easy to set up, too. Only log in as Admin when installing new software or drivers.

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WTF?

Let me get this straight

It is better to run Windows unprotected than have a monoculture, particularly for people who don't understand the difference between essential and optional updates? AV retailers have the market covered in the retail sector which pretty much ships every PC with trial AV software that nobody pays for or replaces, but Microsoft get it in the neck for trying to secure their own software.

I say well done Microsoft. They are helping stem the tide of malware, spam, and DDOS for the rest of us. Not to mention the fact that it puts into place the kind of protection that should be built into an OS in the first place. After all, AV vendors have just been profiting from the past failures of Microsoft.

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Anonymous Coward

cleanup the nasties.... maybe not

a lot of infected machines (especially in 3rd world) are running pirate Windows, so no Microsoft Update, and no help from MSE.

Unusually, I don't think this is a anti-competitive stunt, probably more intended to improve the security reputation of Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

+1

They would need to give a free download of XP Service Pack 4 and fully rolled-up service packs/ patches for Office and IE to solve that particular problem... But of course that is not going to happen....

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