In 2006, Symantec and McAfee complained to European Union antitrust regulators about Microsoft's decision to block them from accessing the kernel in the 64-bit version of Vista, and barring them from its new integrated security center. Microsoft bowed to the pressure, and later produced APIs (application programming interfaces) that gave security vendors some access to the kernel and allowed them to mesh their product's on-screen status features with the security center.
Major security companies have also regularly dismissed Security Essentials as a half-baked solution, and argued that their software is much more effective in stymying attacks.
When Microsoft launched Security Essentials in 2009, for example, Symantec's top engineer called it a "poor product" that was a "bunch of little basic tools."
Symantec, and others, continue to use that argument to persuade potential Windows 8 users that they should pay for antivirus software rather than rely on the free Windows Defender. On its website, Symantec uses phrases like "We are the security experts" and "Norton protection includes many layers of security which Windows Defender is missing" to separate its consumer products from the free tool in Windows 8.
Although the Windows 8 Release Candidate activates Windows Defender automatically, Microsoft also has built a page that lists the current third-party AV software that works with the new OS. Most of those programs have limited lifespans of between 30 and 90 days.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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