Microsoft's MSE Not For Windows Pirates

The final version of Microsoft Security Essentials, or MSE, launched Tuesday, is Microsoft's latest effort to offer an antivirus, antimalware product designed to block viruses, Trojans, Internet worms, spyware and other malware.

For users running legitimate copies of Windows XP SP2, Vista or the upcoming Windows 7, MSE is an easy download. The antivirus software is available in eight languages in 19 countries worldwide, requires no registrations, trial conversions or renewals in order for customers to be updated with the latest version. Microsoft also said in a Windows blog that the information submitted during the registration process will not be used to identify or contact the user.

MSE does, however, require that users validate the Windows versions running on their PCs. If the Windows copy fails the validation process, then the user will be offered a way to purchase a legitimate copy of Windows directly from Microsoft.

Some critics have speculated that Microsoft's launch of MSE was part of a larger antipiracy effort, maintaining that if Microsoft had genuinely wanted to fight malware and cybercrime, it would have created MSE to protect all PCs, including ones running pirated versions of Windows. And security experts contend that viruses, Trojans and other malware are largely spread on pirated versions of Windows, and often in areas without resources to afford legitimate copies of the operating system.

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Meanwhile, Microsoft has positioned MSE as an antivirus, antimalware solution for PC users who can't afford or won't pay for security software. By making it easy to install, Microsoft hopes to encourage a "broader adoption of antivirus protection across the consumer audience, which in turn will help increase security across the entire Windows ecosystem," according to a Microsoft blog post.

"Consumers have told us that they want the protection of realtime security software, but we know that too many are either unwilling or unable to pay for it," said Amy Barzdukas, general manager for consumer security at Microsoft, in a company blog post.

Since the launch of the final version, Microsoft's free MSE has gotten noticed by the media and blogosphere. The new antimalware scanner replaced its commercial subscription software predecessor Live OneCare, which was a commercial flop.

Microsoft says that MSE offers lightweight "realtime" protection that runs silently in the background without constant disruptions to the users. When a piece of malware is detected, Microsoft claims that it offers users the chance to clean and remove the malware.