Microsoft Set To Launch Free Security Suite


Microsoft Security Essentials, previously code named Morro, replaces the Windows Live OneCare offering that Microsoft mothballed back in June. That product, which debuted in 2006, was a commercial flop, as consumers apparently weren't willing to pony up a $49.99 annual subscription fee for coverage of three PCs.

Although Windows Live OneCare wasn't financially successful, it still managed to have an impact on the security industry. Microsoft bundled a broad range of features into Windows Live OneCare at a time when security vendors were adding new features to justify charging more, and this spurred more vendors to offer integrated security suites encompassing broad functionality.

This time around, Microsoft is hoping that MSE will be embraced by Windows users who might not otherwise afford or have access to security software. MSE is a slimmed down version of Windows Live OneCare that leaves out the firewalls, backup capabilities and spam filters, but still provides protection from viruses, Trojans, spyware and rootkits.

Microsoft says MSE consumes minimal CPU and memory resources and won't interfere with normal computing tasks. Its realtime malware protection is augmented by Microsoft's new Dynamic Signature Service, which keeps users protected with the latest virus definitions before they're officially released in monthly updates.

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Security software vendors don't seem overly concerned by the arrival of MSE, although that would quickly change if Microsoft were to incorporate into Windows at some point. Microsoft has insisted that this isn't in the MSE roadmap.

Microsoft is betting that free consumer security software will help improve the state of overall Windows security. For a company that gets raked over the coals for its shortcomings in security, this looks like a step in the right direction.