Hate the idea of paying $60 just to protect your computer from annoying viruses and spyware? Well, here’s some good news: Microsoft will include free antivirus and anti-spyware software with its new Windows 8 operating system.
The only drawback: it won’t be very good.
Microsoft’s completely free Security Essentials antivirus software has been available for a couple years now. Given that it’s free, most critics say it’s better to install Security Essentials than leave one’s computer open to attack. But you do get what you pay for, according to most security experts, who continue to advise computer users safeguard their PCs with antivirus and anti-spyware subscriptions from companies like Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, and Symantec.
The drawback there: such subscriptions aren’t free and usually run at least $60 per year, per computer. For business users, the price can be much higher.
If you’re running a PC without any antivirus program installed, go download Security Essentials right now. You can access it by clicking here.
For everyone else, note that Security Essentials will come packaged with Windows 8 (under the umbrella title Windows Defender), which is expected to launch this fall.
However, Windows 8 will reportedly keep Security Essentials deactivated until it detects that there is no other antivirus software package installed on a computer. The reason: PC manufacturers make a lot of money installing trial versions of antivirus programs on new computers. Those same manufacturers have a lot of influence on Microsoft.
“Looking at the way they’re doing things in Windows 8, Microsoft is going to great lengths to let AV vendors keep customers,” said McAfee’s Gary Davis.
Bottom line: Microsoft’s Security Essentials antivirus program will come free with Windows 8. However, Microsoft, PC manufacturers, and antivirus firms hope you won’t want or need to use it.
Windows 8 is expected to launch later this year.