Come June 23rd, 2009, Microsoft will open up codename Morro, its upcoming free security solution designed to replace Windows Live OneCare 2.0, to the public. The Redmond company offered official confirmation that codename Morro had been rebranded as Microsoft Security Essentials, and that the first Beta for version 1.0 was ready to debut next week. Access to Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 Beta will be granted to testers in the United States, Brazil and Israel, the software giant informed. The information provided by Microsoft comes after screenshots of Morro made it into the wild, followed by the actual bits, leaked a couple of days ago.
“The Microsoft Security Essentials Beta will be made publicly available in Brazil, Israel and the U.S. starting June 23 at about 9am PDT from www.microsoft.com/security_essentials, and general availability is scheduled for later this calendar year,” a Microsoft spokesman told Softpedia.
Microsoft Security Essentials is just what the company promised in November 2008, a lightweight, no-PC performance-impact, basic security solution, built on the core antimalware engine of Windows Live OneCare that will be made available for free to Windows users worldwide. The only catch is that the product will only integrate with genuine/non-pirated copies of Windows (passing Windows Genuine Advantage validation is mandatory). I have already said that this move defeats the purpose of targeting MSE at developing countries where users can't afford to pay for fully fledged security suites. But I see Microsoft changing its strategy for MSE in the future in the same manner that it did for Internet Explorer 7, which also required the underlying platform to pass WGA.
There will be 32-bit and 64-bit versions of MSE 1.0 for Windows Vista and Windows 7, but only 32-bit for Windows XP SP2/SP3. Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 will bring to the table the backbone of Windows Live OneCare, stripped of all the management capabilities associated with the paid product. Microsoft indicated that MSE was in fact a superset of Windows Defender, its current free security offering for Windows.
“To address consumer demand for quality anti-malware protection that’s easy to get and doesn’t slow down system performance, Microsoft Security Essentials has been designed as a no-cost anti-malware solution that provides consumers with quality protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. It will be offered directly from Microsoft and has been designed to be hassle-free and is focused on delivering quality protection that’s easy to use,” the Microsoft spokesman added.