Microsoft has confirmed earlier published reports that Microsoft Security Essentials (codenamed “Morro”), the free antivirus offering that succeeds the now retired non-free Windows Live OneCare, will be released tomorrow, September 29, 2009:
Microsoft today confirmed that it will launch its free security software suite, which has been in development for almost a year, Tuesday morning.
The spokeswoman added that the program will be made available Tuesday morning, Pacific time, although she did not have a specific hour for the launch.
Earlier in the day, Network World‘s John Fontana had been told by Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft’s sever and tools division, that the company would ship the free software Tuesday.
Microsoft has pitched the software as a basic anti-virus, anti-spyware program that consumes less memory and disk space than commercial security suites, like those from vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.
Those companies, however, unanimously dismissed Security Essentials — once codenamed “Morro” — as proof that Microsoft couldn’t compete in the paying market.
That may well be classified as whistling past the graveyard since very little trumps free and if Windows Security Essentials is as good as the beta reviews indicated, the security vendors may have a real problem. I’m still waiting for one or more of them to drop a dime to the antitrust regulators in the US or EU.
If you want to get Windows Security Essentials on day one, keep checking the Microsoft WSE website for the download.
Last week (as had been rumored earlier in the month) Microsoft started a limited beta of its upcoming free antivirus product which had been codenamed Morro, but was formally christened as Microsoft Security Essentials. The beta was limited to 75,000 downloaders and has currently reached the limit so would-be tire kickers will have to wait for general availability which is expected later in the year.
Frankly, it takes a brave person (or one with a dedicated test machine) to test something as vital and potentially intrusive as PC antivirus software, but so far there have been no complaints that I have seen and in fact, preliminary results from testing company AV-Test GmbH indicate that Microsoft Security Essentials is looking very good:
AV-Test GmbH tested Microsoft Security Essentials, the free software Microsoft launched yesterday in beta, on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, putting it up against nearly 3,200 common viruses, bot Trojans and worms, said Andreas Marx, one of the firm’s two managers. The malware was culled from the most recent WildList, a list of threats actually actively attacking computers.
"All files were properly detected and treated by the product," said Marx in an e-mail. "That’s good, as several other [antivirus] scanners are still not able to detect and kill all of these critters yet."
AV-Test also examined the program’s anti-rootkit skills and its ability to scrub a system of malware it finds with a limited number of samples and "found no reasons to complain," Marx said. "[Security Essentials] is able to remove found malware very well, but further tests against larger sets of samples are required before we can come to a final conclusion."
Microsoft Security Essentials also had no false positives in the preliminary testing.
In case you were wondering, the testing also confirmed that Microsoft Security Essentials is not a "cloud" virus scanner as had been suggested in some early speculations – it is a conventional scanner working off databases downloaded to each PC. Without any concrete evidence, my assumption is that Microsoft Security Essentials is just a spiffed up version of the antivirus portion of Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s failed commercial security package which will no longer be sold after June 30.