Microsoft's decision to ship the next major release of its Windows operating system with built-in anti-virus software has drawn mixed reactions from the security community.
Windows 8 will ship during the third quarter of 2012 and comes bundled with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) that contains anti-virus and anti-spyware tools.
Microsoft on Tuesday released a preview of the new operating system to developers during its Build conference in the US.
“We have made many investments in security in Windows 8, building upon the work done to improve security in Windows 7,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.
“All of these investments give us great confidence that Windows 8 will be the most secure operating system we've produced.”
The move to include anti-virus in Windows 8 is a positive step for security, but will undoubtedly be a “regulatory hot button” issue, according to Gartner research fellow Neil MacDonald.
“It tends to distort market competition when you include something [like anti-virus] out of the box,” MacDonald said.
Anti-virus firm Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluley said the change could improve home user security but noted criminals would likely craft malware to evade Microsoft's scanner.
“I wouldn't be surprised if the legal eagles at rival security firms accused Microsoft of anti-competitive practices,” he said.
Microsoft has faced anti-trust issues in the past. Following a lengthy dispute, the Redmond computing giant was forced to offer Windows users in Europe the option to choose an alternative web browser beyond Internet Explorer, which had been bundled in with the operating system.
Meanwhile, Windows 8 will also include several other security enhancements, including “engineering system changes” to find and protect against system flaws, Microsoft said. Additionally, the platform will include a capability known as Secured Boot to help protect against malware-infected USB drives and other threats.
“What they continue to do is raise the bar in terms of baked-in security protections for the operating system,” MacDonald said.