MS opens up Security Essentials downloads from today
Suite intended for 'millions' of unprotected users
Microsoft plans to release the final version of its free-of-extra-charge anti-malware scanner later on Tuesday
The application, Microsoft Security Essentials or MSE (formerly Morro), is designed to provide consumers with basic protection against Trojans, computer viruses, spyware and rootkits. The product lacks the personal firewall, backup and PC tuning features found in OneCare, the paid-for consumer security software discontinued by Microsoft back in June.
Cliff Evans, head of security and privacy at Microsoft UK, said he was personally sorry that OneCare was discontinued, but argued that MSE offered a better chance at improving overall internet hygeine.
“We want everyone to have up to date anti-malware because this is good for the Windows eco-system. Surveys by campaigns such as GetSafeOnline reveal that 50 per cent don't have up to date security software installed.
“Cost and confusion are partly to blame for this, which is why we've released a full feature anti-malware scanner as a free download.”
A beta version of MSE was released by Microsoft in June. Demand far exceeded plans for limited trials, prompting Microsoft to shut off downloads after less than a day. Early tests of the software by German testing lab AV-Test.org were largely favourable, while noting that the security suite lacked the behaviour-based detection of malware found as standard in most paid-for consumer security applications.
Microsoft said the full version of the product features "Dynamic Signature Service", a technology that ensures users are always up to date with the latest anti-virus definitions without having to wait for the next scheduled download.
Evans explained that this technology includes heuristics that check the behaviour of potentially suspicious files and also whether they have already been classified as malicious.
In a nod to user potential user concerns about system hogging and nagware, Microsoft also promised that the software is "designed to run quietly in the background alerting the user only when there is an action for them to take".
MSE will compete most directly against free software security packages AVG and Avira. These firms have traditionally distributed free cut-down anti-malware products as a way of increasing brand awareness, hopefully resulting in increased sales of paid-for, full-fat consumer security suites. Symantec and McAfee all make a substantial slice of their antivirus sales from consumers, with much of the success coming from pre-loading their software on to new PCs. Consumers are arguably less likely to pay for a full-feature product when a cut-down product is available for download from Microsoft at no charge.
Microsoft's Evans said the technology will not come bundled with Windows 7, nor pushed as part of the Windows Update patching process. He did leave open the possibility that OEMs may decide to bundle the technology, however.
“We're making Microsoft Security Essentials free to download but we're not going to push it down to people. Some OEMs may choose to include the software as a free bundle but that's the closest it'll ever come to being pre-installed,” Evans explained.
Microsoft said its primary targets are the millions of Windows users that currently have no protection at all, rather than any concerted effort to poach users from McAfee and Symantec and certainly not for workplace PCs. For business customers, Microsoft is continuing to offer Forefront Client Security, which provides centralised management and reporting capabilities. MSE might be appropriate for consumers and home offices, but businesses of all sizes need to look elsewhere.
Microsoft Security Essentials will be available for download from 1700 BST on Tuesday in eight languages and from 19 countries. These include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and the US.
The software requires no registration, trials or renewals but does require the installation of Microsoft's unloved Windows Genuine Advantage. XP, Vista and Windows 7 versions of the software can be downloaded from here.
MSE is designed to co-exist with third-party personal firewalls but not other anti-malware scanners, a limitation common to other anti-virus apps. ®
512 MB ?
John, I've only got 512 MB on XP SP3 and MSE runs absolutely fine. I've scheduled my first scan for 21:00 on Friday, so it'll be interesting to see how much it impacts on performance (I don't keep my machine on 24/7, so a 2:00 am scan isn't such a good idea).
@Homard 09/29 21:25 "Maybe m$ Is Learning or Maybe Not"
Serious fanboi'ism dude... :-/
"Remember code red ..."
Your best is an almost-10-year-old IIS exploit??
"... you should never be (easily) allowed to surf the net from an administrator account."
You think? Maybe that is why Windows allows you to create user level accounts?
How is it MS's fault if end-users choose not to do so? I can choose to run administrator-level on other platforms.
Try surfing in IE on Windows Server if you think it is that easy.
If MS forceably made desktop OS accounts at user level then people would sh*t all over them for doing that, so they leave it up to the end user to get educated about it. Just like you had to get educated to run any Linux-distro.
"This piece of software they now offer damn well should be free because it is a necessary tool to protect your m$ system (which you paid for) from the holes in it."
What "holes" in the OS? Name me the list of actual OS current open exploits.
The vast majority of malware exploits are targetted at getting the newbie user to install something, which can be done on any platform.
"In the meantime I'll continue using my loyal penguin friend as my main computer."
Good luck with that. I'm glad that you enjoy running 1000 text editors, half-a-dozen packagers, and only a few real serious applications.
Oh, and btw I have Kubuntu/Win7 dual-boot on my Internet system, but I don't get all fanboi-ish about it.
Richard Plinston tells us several of the reasons why "user error" is not the main problem here.
You wouldnt give a loaded gun to a four year old and then blame the child if she shot someone.
My biggest beef with MS is their continued obstruction of internet hygiene by cavalier disregard for the needs of firewalls.
The worst is Windows Update - cant enumerate IPs to allow it to load from, cant even enumerate domain names it will load from - all by themselves, MS make outbound firewall filters almost impossible to implement. Opening http/https to anywhere gives free rein to bots to speak to their control channels.
The SMBv2 issue shows us all over again what an disaster port 445 is.
LAN-based debugging tools which require inbound access from the live webserver.
This stuff is all eminently fixable. And far more valuable then Aero.