Microsoft Drops Paid Live OneCare and Will Offer Free Service

Microsoft said today that it would stop selling Windows Live OneCare, which offers backup, performance tuning, and security. Instead, it will offer a new service called Morro, a lightweight security package, free starting in mid-2009.

This new solution, to be offered at no charge to consumers, 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.

Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously, said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft. 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.

Because uptake of standard anti-malware is low around the world, particularly in developing nations, the availability of basic protection for anyone who wants it is all the more important, said Roger Kay, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. By offering such basic protection at no charge to the consumer, Microsoft is promoting a safer environment for PCs, service providers and e-commerce itself, since it is through unprotected PCs that the worst threats are introduced to the system as a whole.

Morro will be available as a stand-alone download and offer malware protection for the Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. When used in conjunction with the ongoing security and privacy enhancements of Windows and Internet Explorer, this new solution will offer consumers a robust, no-cost security solution to help protect 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. Regardless of their method of purchase, Microsoft will ensure that all current customers remain protected through the life of their subscriptions.