Microsoft’s upcoming operating system upgrade Windows 8 comes with a pre-installed security package. While this brings a lot of convenience to the operating system’s user base, some observers have questioned whether this will make third party antivirus applications obsolete due to redundancy.
Some market watchers however contend that this application bundling will not erode the market position of third party publishers because they are constantly improving their products and already have a loyal customer base.
Still, the fact that the security software will come bundled with Windows 8 does raise a fairly high probability that customers will just use the bundled applications instead of seeking out more specialized third-party brands. According to industry analyst Aliza Kasim of Frost & Sullivan’s ICT Practice for Asia-Pacific, this is due to many customers preferring free bundled applications rather than having to shell out funds for third party add on applications.
The bundled Microsoft Security Essentials has actually been out for a while and has gone through differing version updates. Unlike its current version, Windows 8′s bundled version will install this application instead of users having to install it separately. The Windows 8 bundle results in a more seamless and smoother solution. Currently, Microsfot Security Essentials protects systems from trojans, spyware, and malware. The new version also sports improvements like a more robust protection of app environments, stronger malware filters, parental control and firewall functionalities, and protections against USB drive-based malware.
Despite its impressive lists of improvements, many industry observers predict that its bundling will result in a de facto market dominance despite this move’s similarity to previous Microsoft application bundling. It should be remembered that Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows led to the rapid death of Netscape’s Netscape Navigator web browser. Currently, there are quite a few trusted anti-malware brands ranging from Trend Micro to Kaspersky to McAfee, and Symantec. Also, there are many freeware vendors like AVG. Industry observers say that due to the high level of trust these packages command, a dramatic erosion of their client bases is not likely.
Another factor that counts against Microsoft’s security bundling is that it is perceived by some critics as historically lacking security. Indeed, this explains the proliferation of third party security applications to patch up a key Windows shortcoming. This historic security failing might translate to less trust in Microsoft’s security bundle.
Finally, Kasim notes that even though Microsoft Security Essentials has been available for several years, it hasn’t really impacted the market share of the dominant third-party software vendors in the security market. Kasim said that the third-party players always seek to improve their security offerings and are constantly evolving in order to keep up with the competition. If anything, she says they view Microsoft’s bundling decision as “healthy competition.”