May 16 2009

FAQ: Why are we so addicted to antivirus updates?

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The computing world remains addicted after nearly two decades because — much like smokers — they collectively feel it’s easier to remain addicted than to go through the pain of withdrawal.

Sadly, the “smoker addiction” analogy doesn’t apply as well as we’d like it to. In a perfect analogy, any antivirus user could stop updating “cold turkey.” Given our realities, you’ll still need to update antivirus software on (rare) occasions for a new type of virus. And of course you’ll still need to update your antivirus software when the vendor announces a major new version or when you upgrade to a major new operating system.

Yet right now we can’t even hope for just “the realities” of our situation — because entrenched stagnation has brought antivirus technology nearly to a standstill. Microsoft is now in a position where they can help break this technological stagnation … but to do it, Microsoft would end up slaughtering the cash cow of the addictive update model. And that’s just not in Microsoft’s best interests.

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