Recently, we reported the story on Microsoft’s plan to release free, anti-virus software, speculating that it would be codenamed “Morro”, well, the day has come, Tuesday June 26, 2009. Mark it on your calendars and get out the party hats.
Contrary to our initial report though, the release name for the software will be ”Microsoft Security Essentials”, however it is still intended to completely replace the paid LiveOneCare service, and will be completely free, no strings attached. The software will only be released in beta form for now, so bugs are expected.
The software works like most traditional anti-virus programs; matching information on downloads and programs against signatures of known malaware. Microsoft claims it will be publishing virus signatures three times daily, and users can update their client through the Windows Update. Unfortunately it is unknown as to whether or not the program will be able to update definitions independently, meaning users may have to set Windows Update to update automatically, and consequently download other listed OS updates, if they wish to “set it and forget it”. Failing that, regular manual updates may be required if a user wants to weed out only the virus definitions.
Security Essentials is not intended to revolutionize or replace existing virus software on a users PC. “We’re targeting people who aren’t protected already” states Alan Packer, the manage of Microsoft’s anti-malware team. Their focus is on the unprotected, and those who are unhappy with their current bloated and resource hungry anti-virus. Security Essentials is lightweight, and attempts to reduce system usage by running when the PC is idle. It has also been tuned to conserve memory usage.
Update: June 23rd, 2009: MSE has been released on Beta and can be downloaded here