With the move, Microsoft appears to be taking aim at McAfee and Symantec, its chief rivals in the PC security market.
"Moro" will be architected for a smaller footprint that will use fewer computing resources, making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs. As part of Microsoft's move to focus on this simplified offering, the company also announced today that it will discontinue retail sales of its Windows Live OneCare subscription service effective June 30, 2009. The service being discontinued costs $49.95 a year and covers up to three PCs. But Windows Live OneCare for Server subscribers will continue to receive the same protection, updates and support for the duration of their subscriptions, Microsoft said.
"This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware," said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft.
Built on Microsoft's malware protection engine, "Morro" will take advantage of the same core anti-malware technology that fuels the company's current line of security products. The new solution will deliver the same core protection against malware as that offered through Microsoft's enterprise solutions, but will not include many of the additional non-security features found in many consumer security suites.
Windows Live OneCare, one of the first all-in-one suites to be launched in the consumer market, includes a number of non-security features, such as printer sharing and automated PC tune-up. By shifting to focus on the core anti-malware features that most consumers still don't keep up to date, "Morro" will be able to provide the essential protections without overusing system resources.
"Morro" will be available as a stand-alone download and offer malware protection for the Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. Microsoft said that "Moro" used in conjunction with the ongoing security and privacy enhancements of Windows and Internet Explorer will offer consumers a robust, no-cost security solution against the majority of online threats.
Windows Live OneCare will continue to be sold for Windows XP and Windows Vista at retail through June 30, 2009. Direct sales of OneCare will be gradually phased out when "Morro" becomes available.
Microsoft also said that it would continue to offer anti-malware for its enterprise customers through its Forefront line of products. The company's product road map includes the next generation of Forefront, code-named "Stirling".