onecareMicrosoft announced via a press release that they will be discontinuing OneCare, their current antivirus product, on June 30th, 2009. I don’t think this is very surprising considering how much criticism OneCare has received in the past. After all, I expected more out of OneCare than any other antivirus since Microsoft knows the ins and outs of Windows, and they should therefore be able to protect users better than any other product.

To make things a little more interesting Microsoft says that they will have a free product ready (code-named Morro) somewhere around the time that OneCare is discontinued. Here’s what they have to say about it:

Code-named “Morro,” this streamlined solution will be available in the second half of 2009 and will provide comprehensive protection from malware including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. 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.

The timing of all this is very interesting. Windows 7 is expected to be available around the middle of next year, which is when Microsoft will cutoff OneCare. My guess is that they didn’t want to spend the resources making OneCare compatible with Windows 7, but Morro will work it in addition to Vista and XP.

Honestly this is a really smart move by Microsoft. I have previously pondered whether it is really necessary for me to have an antivirus application running on my Vista machine, but for some reason it makes me feel a little bit safer. Using Microsoft’s resource-friendly Morro antivirus might be just the solution for me, because I know that with the UAC I already have enabled a lot of things won’t be able to slip by undetected.

Now if only they could bundle it with the operating system, but we know what kind of anti-trust issues would arise from that. ;)

P.S. It looks like they are killing off the Office 2007 subscription model called Equipt, which also comes packaged with OneCare.