Bundling Antivirus a Good Idea?

On Saturday, Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a story (here) about whether Microsoft would ever add antivirus protection to Windows.

The story, by reporter Todd Bishop, quotes Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith as saying Microsoft "to date" has made no decision about whether to include antivirus in future Windows versions. Apparently, Mr. Smith also expressed cautious approach, because of Microsoft's ongoing antitrust problems stemming from bundling Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player with the operating system.

"I have to say, it is a real cause for concern for us that 70 percent of consumer PCs do not have current antivirus protection," Mr. Bishop quoted Mr. Smith as saying.

I'm surprised by the 70-percent assertion. According to Jupiter Research surveys, about 73 percent of U.S. consumers say they have antivirus software on their primary PC. As explained in my report, "Windows Fragmentation: The Problem with Windows XP Evangelism and How to Fix It," the problem isn't so much newer PCs but older ones, something Microsoft hasn't addressed with its security push around Windows XP Service Pack 2.

I would contend that most consumers already have antivirus software. The question is more one of learning how best to keep protection up to date. That's something Microsoft already addresses with the new Security Center.

By the way, Jupiter Research has considerable data in this area, including antivirus or firewall software breakdown by operating system or number of PCs. [via Microsoft Monitor]


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