Report: Microsoft preps beta of free antivirus app

'Morro' coming soon, replaces OneCare, which dies June 30

Microsoft Corp. is preparing to launch a public beta of Morro, the free antimalware it announced last November, according to a report by the Reuters news service.

Morro will use the same scanning engine as Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft's first consumer-grade antivirus package, and the software that the free software replaces. OneCare is to get the boot June 30, when Microsoft stops selling the program.

According to a Microsoft spokesman who spoke with Reuters, Morro is being tested internally at the company, and will be posted as a public beta "soon." The spokesman didn't offer the news service any further details about a timetable.

The company was not immediately available today to confirm the Reuters story, but it has e-mailed technology reporters offering more information in a briefing with executives if they agree to abide by a nondisclosure agreement.

Others, however, seemed to confirm that Morro was close at hand. Prominent Windows blogger Paul Thurrott noted the Reuters story, but begged off providing details.

"This puts me in an awkward spot. I can't really discuss this too much further at the moment, but since Reuters dropped the ball ..." he said. Thurrott also hinted that the news of Morro's imminent beta had leaked prematurely. "Let's just say it wasn't supposed to be today," he added.

Microsoft has been mum about Morro since November 2008, when it announced that it was dumping OneCare and would instead give away streamlined software that would sniff out PC viruses, worms, Trojans, rootkits and spyware.

At the time, Amy Barzdukas, a senior director of product management at Microsoft, only promised that Morro would launch sometime in the second half of this year. She also denied claims by security software rivals that Microsoft had thrown in the towel on OneCare because the software had flopped.

Microsoft's other consumer security software, the antispyware Windows Defender program, is bundled with Vista, will be included with Windows 7 and is a free download for Windows XP users.

Last year, John Pescatore, an analyst at Gartner Inc., questioned whether users would step up to Microsoft's Morro even if it was free. "Consumers are hesitant to pay for a Microsoft security product that will remove problems in other Microsoft products," he said. "Think of it this way. What if you smelled a rotten egg odor in your water and the water company said, 'Sure, we can remove that, but it will cost you $50.' Would you buy it?"

Not surprisingly, competitors have dismissed Morro's threat to their business and downplayed its ability to attract users. "We like our chances," said Todd Gebhart, vice president in charge of McAfee's consumer line, last year.

"Consumers have already rejected OneCare," added Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of consumer software at Symantec. "Making that same substandard security technology free won't change that equation."

OneCare isn't the only Microsoft program to get the ax at the end of the month. Yesterday, the company confirmed that it would also ditch Microsoft Money, its 18-year-old personal finance program, on June 30.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Microsoftmorroanti-malware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?