The right-wing Teutonic propaganda being spawned by the "sober" email worm has to be the most annoying German export since The Scorpions. Over the weekend, a new "Q" variant of this two-year-old computer virus began spamming us with hundreds of email messages, many carrying right-wing German propaganda.

According to computer-security experts, this latest variant seems to be automatically downloaded to computers running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows -- ones already infected with the "P" version of the virus, proving once again that even free antivirus software and virus-removal tools are not enough to keep our inboxes clean. It only takes a few ignorant, oblivious, or lazy computer users to cause a whole heap of trouble. Once up and running, the worm camouflages its operations and uses its own email engine to send out the spam. Prior versions send out email with yet more infected attachments.

The issue highlights the continuing security headaches facing Microsoft as it tries to fight off the common and well-earned perception that Windows is the Typhoid Mary of operating systems. Unlike, say, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Mac OS X, which some adherents claim cannot be compromised in any way whatsoever, no matter what you might read from the likes of Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC).

Microsoft claims that its next OS, code-named Longhorn, will plug a lot of its security holes. But Longhorn is a long way off -- 2006, to be precise. In the meantime, the firm's acquisition of an anti-spyware company has produced what I consider a good piece of software, but more needs to be done.

But no matter how Microsoft approaches the problem, there will be trouble. Last week, plenty of pixels were spent on Netrage directed at Microsoft's upcoming release of OneCare, an integrated antivirus and anti-spyware product that is slated to be a for-pay subscription service. "Why should we pay you to plug the holes in your own product?" the argument goes. Good question.

But given Microsoft's recent billion-dollar difficulties with antitrust litigation, you wonder whether the firm could even contemplate giving the service away for free, lest it be dragged into court by competitors like McAfee (NYSE:MFE) or unfriendly nations like the entire European Union.

Unfortunately, the firm's sheer size and market share have created this problem. Microsoft is danged if it do, and danged if it don't. That kind of catch-22, and the resulting public-relations fallout, is something investors need to consider when placing their bets on Mr. Softy.

Read all about the virus wars in:

Protect your computer, Fool. For Microsoft's free virus tool, click here . For AVG's free antivirus, click here .

Seth Jayson has only had two computer viruses in his entire life, on his old Mac SE. At the time of publication, he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.