I’ve been running my eval copy of Vista (as a virtual machine) for a couple of weeks now and it’s a strange feeling. No, it has nothing to do with the new user interface (most of which won’t run in my virtual machine anyway), User Account Protection (UAP), or any of the new features.

It’s because I’m running without any AntiVirus running. At all. And I can’t, for the life of me, think of any reason to install it yet.

It’s there. This little zip file sitting on my desktop trying to tempt me into releasing it from the confines of its uninstalled bundle. It calls to me as I sleep, whispering fears of sending Office macro viruses to my family or being unprepared as that just-detected 1-day worm wheedles its way past my firewalls into the heart of my OS. But I resist the temptation as I banish the file to the depths of a subdirectory. Waiting to be called upon when needed, but imprisoned in the bowels of my file structure until the most desperate of times.

As someone who practices safe email and browsing habits I often wonder if I need desktop AV at all. I don’t run it on my Mac and I don’t run it on my XP Home PC (that isn’t ever used for email or inappropriate browsing). I only use it on my corporate desktop, where it’s never found anything despite destroying my system performance every Wednesday at lunch, and I’m well protected with our email server AV (which is definitely necessary).

Thus there’s no reason to run it on an OS for which there isn’t a single known worm or virus. It’s not like signature-based AV will catch any of the rumored 0days floating around, and my generally safe browsing habits limit my exposure anyway.

I’d consider this feeling of freedom strange if I haven’t been experiencing it on my Mac for the past year. Now you Windows users can know what freedom really feels like.

At least for now…