Microsoft Forefront - Is it the New Antivirus Vendor Killer?

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I love talk of something being the “blank-killer.” Killzone was supposed to be the Halo-killer and now, rumors are floating around that Microsoft’s new Forefront service will kill the antivirus sellers out there. The reason I enjoy these names so much is because every time one comes around, debunking the myth becomes easier and easier. Let’s analyze some reasons why Forefront is not going to be killing the antivirus vendor business anytime soon.

Reason # 1 – Established Names are here to stay

When I say Avira, Avast, Nod32, or F-Secure, the first thing that pops to mind is the word “Antivirus.” The reason being that every year, these companies shell out huge amounts of money to not only make sure that their names stay in the public eye, but also to make sure that they stay on top - fighting an odd antivirus arms race against one another for your yearly payments. Microsoft is an enormous contender, but the public has a clear perception that Microsoft products outside of the OS and Office branded lines are essentially packaged junk.

As such, these big names in antivirus programs are always competing and selling better products. Companies like ESET and F-Secure have enormous research teams for developing antivirus solutions. As much money as Microsoft pours into their antivirus research, it’s hard to compete with an established name that is specialized in one area – which makes it clear that they will probably fail once more.

Reason # 2 – Bought a Microsoft Product besides Office or Windows lately?

Ask anyone who bought the Live service last year or perhaps even the last three failed attempts by Microsoft to break into the firewall and antivirus game, and they will tell you that the products did not compare with commercially available third-party vendors.

Moreover, there is no reason to think that Forefront will be changing the game anytime soon. Even though the client and server model is tried and tested, Microsoft products have a nasty history of being overpriced and under-developed. The products typically lose support as a result of few people buying into them. Therefore, you are left with an overpriced lemon rotting away inside your hard drive.

Reason # 3 – Seen this Story Before…

Microsoft is not new to trying to break into the antivirus game. They have endeavored with their upgrades to the Live service and to the Windows Defender system. However, having used F-Secure for several years and having recently bought ESET’s NOD32, it is clear that nobody will be debunking these great products.

The other issue associated with Microsoft’s products is their enormous size. I have yet to see a product come out of their labs that is as light as the typical antivirus product, even those that are free, like AVG or AVAST!

Feel free to try out the Forefront demo if you like, but unless I have made some serious errors in judgment (or Microsoft really is turning over a new leaf), this is likely to be yet another failure in a long line of products that just didn’t live up to their potential.