Microsoft (MS) this week announced that it is planning to phase out its Live OneCare subscription-based online security service late next year and introduce a new suite of free ‘core anti-malware protection’ services for users of XP, Vista and Windows 7.

“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.”

The new program, currently code-named ‘Morro’, will be built on MS’s current malware protection engine and is intended to protect users against a wide spectrum of online threats, including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. It will also be a smaller set of applications, making it more accessible and more usable for non-highspeeed Internet users.

According to the official MS news release, “‘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.”

Morrow is scheduled to launch sometime in the second quarter of 2009. From that point, Live OneCare users will continue to receive full support through the end of their current subscriptions.

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