September 29, 2009

Microsoft Releases Free Security Package

Microsoft released its free computer security package on Tuesday, BBC News reported.

Windows users can now download the software from Microsoft's Security Essentials website, where the free software provides basic protection against viruses, trojans, rootkits, and spyware.

The Essentials software is Microsoft's second try at making an own-brand security package. Before the release, a beta version of Microsoft's Security Essentials (MSE) software, codenamed Morro, had been available to users in the U.S., China, Brazil, and Israel.

The software will be available to anyone who wants to use it and downloading it will not involve registering with the software company or having a limit on the amount of time it could be used for, Microsoft said during the release.

Cliff Evans, head of security and privacy at Microsoft UK, said it's not being included as part of the operating system or as an automatic update.

An estimated 50 percent of PCs in the UK do not have up-to-date anti-malware software installed, according to figures gathered by the Get Safe Online campaign.

This latest release is an effort to add protection for those machines.

Evans said there are not enough people taking up anti-malware subscriptions and they want to make sure that across the world enough people have access to something.

"Alongside the software, people still needed to run a firewall and keep their browser and operating system up to date with the latest patches and fixes," he added.

However, the software must be installed on a "genuine" Windows PC - one whose copy of its operating system has been verified by Microsoft.

Microsoft faces competition from many others in the free software market including AVG, Alwil Avast, Avira Antivir and Comodo.

The free software runs on Windows XP, Vista and will also be available for Windows 7 when it is released in late October.

Those who install the software will automatically receive free updates in the future.

"I do not think it's a bad thing. It's only a bad thing if people think that's all they need to do. The danger is if users think that they can just get by with the Microsoft tool," said Microsoft Security Essentials Roger Thompson, chief research officer for AVG.

Microsoft also released its Windows Live OneCare paid security software, but it failed to win a significant user base in the highly competitive consumer market.

Microsoft retired it at the end of June 2009 but said it would honor any outstanding subscriptions to the software.


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