Free PC security software from Microsoft in 2009

According to Dailymail, technology giant Microsoft has shocked the industry by announcing it will stop selling its OneCare security software and offer a free alternative instead.

Dubbed 'Morro', the no-frills product will support Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and is expected to launch in the middle of next year.

Shares in rival anti-virus protection firms dived at the news, amid fears the new program would hit their sales.

But Microsoft executives insist their software was targeted at users with low-bandwidth connections and basic notebook computers.

Morro only offers software that protects from malware such as viruses, spyware, and trojans. But security suites from Symantec and McAfee include encryption, firewalls, password protection, parental controls and data backup programs.

'It is really focused on the 50 to 60 per cent (of PC users) who don't have, or won't pay for, anti-virus protection, anti-malware protection,' said Microsoft's Amy Barzdukas.

'This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware.'

The PC leader appears to be cutting its losses after OneCare only managed to garner two per cent of the security software market since its launch in 2006.

But why offer security software at all? Analyst Jon Oltsik told cnet.com he suspects Microsoft would take a massive PR blow if they walked away from such a large section of the computer market.

As a trusted brand name, consumers are more likely to opt for Microsoft's anti-viral software than other less well-known free products such as Clam AV.

However, Anti-virus firms are remaining defiant following the announcement.

'It's simply not in Microsoft's DNA to provide high-quality, frequently updated security protection,' Symantec's Rowan Trollope said.

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