Microsoft has announced the general release of its free anti-spyware program, a move that steps up its competitive challenge in the security industry, and particularly against Symantec and McAfee.
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Windows Defender anti-spyware is now available in English to Windows XP users, with other languages set for delivery in future weeks. Windows Defender will also be bundled with Windows Vista, Microsoft's next-generation operating system, when it is released in January.
Windows Defender’s availability and especially its bundling, has already raised the hackles of Symantec and McAfee, which both charge for their anti-spyware products.
Yet both have had plenty of time to respond, as the free anti-spyware product has been in beta testing since January 2005.
Overall, Microsoft’s entry has been a good thing for consumers. The software will be included as a matter of course in Vista, heightening its visibility, and at the same time, it shakes both Symantec and McAfee out of their cosy duopoly, and might just spark some innovation. Yes, they’ll need freedom of access to deliver some competition to Microsoft, but given the growing threats from security, it’s about time Symantec and McAfee produced a new killer app.