Sophos Disses Norton and McAfee, Praises Windows 8's Built-in Antivirus

Paul Lilly

Perhaps you've heard that Windows 8 will ship with built-in antivirus software. Don't fret if you're just now learning this, Microsoft did a great job bombarding the media with information about its next major OS at its BUILD conference, and retaining it all on first pass is asking a lot. Nevertheless, this is a big announcement, and one that can't be sitting well with third-party AV vendors. Security firm Sophos has a message for them: "Too bad, sucka!"

Here's what's happening with Windows 8. From the sound of things, Microsoft is injecting a bunch of new protection mechanisms into its Windows Defender program, mechanisms previously found in Microsoft's free Security Essentials program. In order to use Security Essentials, you have to point your browser to the appropriate website, download the program, and install it. Windows Defender, on the other hand, comes pre-bundled with Windows 7 and will also ship with Windows 8.

Sophos says that's good news for consumers and bad news for security vendors, but hey, the latter had their shot and they blew it.

"It's questionable as to whether many home users will want to reach into their pockets and pay for security from them if there's already one built into Windows 8," Sophos explains in a blog post . "Frankly, it's their own fault. The two big security hippopotamuses have had years of opportunity to gobble up the end-user market, and yet still millions of home users were infected by malware, spyware, and pop-ups each year."

It's pretty funny to see Sophos refer to Norton and McAfee as "security hippopotamuses" (and make no mistake, those are the companies Sophos is talking about, as evidenced not only by the obvious, by also by a quoted Twitter message earlier in the company's blog post), but it's no laughing matter for third-party security vendors.

"Microsoft's plans for Windows 8 might mean knee jerk reactions from some vendors, and even perhaps price cuts and giveaways in an already aggressive market," Sophos says.

Alternately, Sophos says security vendors could go the legal route and sue Microsoft for anti-competitive practices, a tactic that was successful in the European Union over Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer in Windows.

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