Antivirus in Windows 8

On nearly every virtual corner of the Internet malware and spyware lurk, just waiting to infect our precious computing devices. Before the Internet, viruses were much less common and much harder to spread. In today’s world you are pretty much asking for your computer to die if you don’t have any form of antivirus protection on your PC.

For those who are considering installing Windows Developer Preview you might wonder which antivirus programs offer support for Windows 8. Luckily in Windows 8 you don’t necessarily need to download any extra antivirus program. For Windows 8, Windows Defender has been beefed up to included anti-malware alongside spyware protection.

The technology in Windows 8 Defender is essentially derived from the Windows XP/Vista/7 Microsoft Security Essentials free antivirus software.

The new Defender program is designed to give all users anti-virus protection right from the start with no extra program needed. Defender will include firewall, parental controls, virus protection, and spyware protection at no extra cost. The new security suite will even offer protection from bootable USB drives that are infected with malware.

You have to wonder what the antivirus industry is saying about this though. Many companies have cried foul about Windows Media Player and even Internet Explorer. In Europe, Microsoft was even required to bundle a variety of browsers with its OS to keep competitive. Will there be a similar reaction when Windows 8 arrives?

The answer is likely a “maybe”. Many larger antivirus vendors aren’t worried at all. According to the director of consumer product marketing for McAfee they support Microsoft’s efforts to make Windows more secure.

Additionally many of the larger vendors state that most users will want protection that goes beyond the basic including web applications, cloud applications, mobile devices, and more. Windows 8’s Defender offers basic protection but it is a free program and, at least on this point, not a major priority for the company. It is certainly a great option for basic users who can’t afford or refuse to pay for antivirus though.

According to AVG most consumers are more interested in third party security tools and they feel it won’t really harm their business at all.  It is also pointed out by many vendors that platforms such as Android and even possibly iOS are opening up new opportunities to offer virus protection so losing some of the share to Defender isn’t going to make them go bankrupt by any means.

The bigger picture is whether or not Defender is going to cause more harm than help. I have personally used Microsoft Security Essentials in the past and although it is an ‘okay’ solution it certainly misses a lot of things that 3rd party security programs would have picked up. If Defender only offers an okay package this could actually be dangerous for users.

Many less ‘tech savvy’ users will figure that they have protection so why pay for anything else, and yet if Defender doesn’t catch malware/spyware as good as competitor software these users could be putting themselves and their data at serious risk.

For now Defender is looking to be an okay piece of software, but its still fairly early. Microsoft could put more effort behind the software and really give us a great free alternative, or it could be we will just stick to 3rd party security options. I guess having slightly less capable virus protection is still a lot better than having none at all.

So what do you think? Are you glad that Microsoft is including anti-virus in its newest version of Windows? Will you likely use the free service or a 3rd party tool? Let me know what you think below.

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