Bundled Windows 8 Antivirus Threatens to Sideline Competition

Fast boot and no Norton or “basic” protection?

Symantec has released its Norton Antivirus and Norton 360 beta for Windows 8, claiming it will out-do Microsoft’s free but “basic” Defender anti-malware program, which Microsoft has seriously bolstered in Windows 8.

Traditional antivirus vendors like Symantec are up against a much bigger built-in antivirus system Microsoft included in Defender for Windows 8.

While Defender in Windows 7 could be considered “anti-spyware”, it didn’t protect against viruses. Microsoft’s other security product for consumer Security Essentials product did, however it was only available free as a separate package under its “Windows Genuine” program.

Previously, if Security Essentials was installed, Windows would turn off Defender automatically, however in 2011 Microsoft declared Windows 8 Defender will include protection against “all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits”.

Microsoft has not said much about Security Essentials for Windows 8 but last month clarified that Windows 8 Defender would replace Security Essentials after users complained the latter product was not compatible with its Windows 8 consumer preview.

Despite Microsoft’s improvements to Windows Defender, which include file and system antivirus scanning, anti-phishing, and a firewall, Symantec says that’s not enough, labelling Defender in Windows 8 “basic” compared to its own “comprehensive” protection.

Missing components Symantec highlights include “cloud-based management, social network monitoring and support for multiple browsers.”

Microsoft senior program manager, Jason Garms, in 2011 walked a fine line dealing with companies Microsoft still considers partners.

While conceding there are lots of “great” anti-malware products, Garns highlighted they “double the amount of time required for core scenarios like file copy and boot”—a key performance indicator Microsoft is aiming to improve in its latest operating system.

The other problem for consumers, Garns noted, was that a quarter of Windows 7 consumers lacked antimalware protection a year after activating the PC, which he said was “likely” because the antivirus packaged with the hardware had expired.

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