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Scott Kuhl Warning: I may have no idea what I am talking about!

image This is in response to a post by John Viega entitled “Why Microsoft’s free AV won’t matter”.

Yes, Microsoft failed with OneCare.  But I don’t agree with John on why.  (Keep in mind John works for a company that produces AV software, so he is biased, even if he is knowledgeable.) 

Let’s look at the three major different kinds of anti-virus users.

Type A – Anti-What-Now?

A large number of consumers don’t care about anti-virus.  They might know what it is “sort of”, and they may want to know that their new computer from Best Buy has it, but beyond that, they know nothing.  These are the home users that never purchase an anti-virus beyond the 90 day trial or they bought the upgrade simply because a pop up or sales guy told them to.

Type B – Tech Savvy Consumer

You know know what your looking for and you can find it for free.  AVG does a great job in this market.  These users do not need to be told this stuff is important and they certainly don’t need to pay for help.

Type C – Corporations

From large to small, you know you need it.  What you need is very different depending on the size of your organization, but you are likely to buy something because of restrictions on the free licenses.  Some small shops will simply use the free stuff anyway.  Other very small shops with no tech support will likely fall into the Type A above.

Microsoft failed with Type A because it’s not, and they can’t without legal action, bundle OneCare onto new PCs like Norton can.  Microsoft failed with Type B because OneCare cost money and wasn’t as good as many free options.  Microsoft failed with Type C because the enterprise was not the target of OneCare and was missing a lot of features.

Microsoft CAN succeed with the free model. 

Type A are still lost unless Microsoft more aggressively pushes the availability of the product in Windows Live.  Not only do they need to get more people to start downloading Windows Live, but they need to show people that AV is in there and they can happily uninstall the software they are paying for and save money.  A campaign with Best Buy and Walmart would go a long way.

Type B is an easy sell if the product works well.  This group know about the product so its a matter of trust.

Type C small companies will be the easiest sell.  Microsoft will have a free alternative to a paid service and be more visible.  My company falls into this group, and while AVG is great, I’ll switch if its going to save us thousands of dollars per year. 

Type C large companies are going to be tough unless Microsoft builds in central monitoring.  They certainly have the tools and experience to build this into easy network deployment and control.  But it will take a few years of a proven track record to start winning them over.  Large companies move slow.  This adoption along with Type A is going to hurt the AV companies the most.

So yes, Microsoft will make a difference.  The rules are changing when a product nobody wants to buy is now free, easy to get and comes from the biggest software company in world.  The only thing stopping Microsoft from succeeding, is Microsoft.  Push it and adoption will follow.  Toss it out there and hope people will use it, and it will fail.

But in the end, free AV should be bundled into the OS like Defender.  Screw anti-competitive practices.  The companies they are competing with are making a living based on vulnerabilities in the system.  Microsoft should have the right to bundle software that secures the OS.  And the other guys can sell software to improve or manage it, for those who really WANT it, not everyone who really NEEDS it.

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Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1:01 PM | Back to top


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