Microsoft is expecting Windows 2000 users to be among those interested in upgrading to Vista, as well as customers for whom tighter security is a top priority. I agree, as many small businesses that are candidates for Vista haven’t yet upgraded. Vista will become the number one system by default anyway, as more than half of all new PCs in 2006 will have it preinstalled, according to Microsoft.
Popular wisdom has it that Vista will be a more secure operating system. That may very well turn out to be true, relative to previous versions of Windows. But what most people don’t yet recognize is that Microsoft will be charging a premium for security. While antispyware software will be bundled into Vista, protecting us from the prying eyes of marketers and espionage agents as well as thwarting potential competitors in the software industry (after all, Microsoft’s “spyware” will certainly be actively watching you), antivirus software will not, repeat, not be included.
Here’s why, according to Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch:
As Web posters far and wide have pointed out, Microsoft brass are well aware that building antivirus software into Vista would likely raise the hackles of antitrust regulators here and abroad. (Why bundling antispyware seems to be OK, on the other hand, is more of a mystery to us.)
There’s more than just legal repercussions factoring in here. Microsoft sees dollar signs when it sees Windows OneCare and Windows Client Protection [services the company plans to offer to enterprise customers]. The company is betting that there are users out there who would shell out for someone — even Microsoft — to secure their systems against the insecurities that have plagued Windows and Internet Explorer for years now. Subscription revenue, if you can hook people in, can be far more lucrative than a one-time sale of a shrink-wrapped operating-system bundle.
Would you buy a security service from Microsoft? Todd Bishop, a blogger on Microsoft topics, asked the company directly:
I asked Dennis Bonsall, Windows OneCare Live director, how the company will make its pitch to people who wouldn’t be inclined to buy anti-virus, anti-spyware and other security software from Microsoft, considering the flaws in Windows and other Microsoft programs that have opened the door to many viruses and other online attacks.
[Bonsall told Bishop:] “This is less about things that are not done correctly in the OS nowadays, it’s more about how the bad guys are choosing to target people with deceptive Web sites and deceptive e-mails and really tricking people into downloading things that aren’t safe for them.”
While that point is valid — Microsoft certainly has excellent OS engineers — but once again, Microsoft ignores the elephant in the room: the fact that bad guys will continue to have a large, fat target. Microsoft Vista will not be adopted that quickly by Windows XP users, so the bad guys will still have one big fat unmoving target as well as a new target in Vista itself.
I think the price, at $49.95 per year for up to three computers, is high for a single PC user who doesn’t have two other systems to protect — especially when compared to other products that do the same thing and are not from Microsoft. Symantec is reported to be working on an offering, code-named Genesis, to be sold on a subscription basis some time later this year.