Microsoft today will deliver the final, public version of its Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) utility, a free antivirus and anti-malware product for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. MSE is available for free from the Microsoft website and can be installed on any "genuine" Windows system.
"As threats to the safety and security of today's PC users continue to evolve, Microsoft is actively working to help keep PC users protected so that they have a safe and enjoyable Windows experience," a statement from the software giant reads. "Microsoft Security Essentials is a no-cost, anti-malware solution that provides consumers with quality protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits, and Trojans."
Microsoft is positioning MSE as a perk to those who have a validated, "genuine" (i.e. non-pirated) version of Windows XP, Vista, or 7. On modern versions of Windows—Vista or 7—it fills the one security hole that ships with those systems by providing antivirus functionality. (Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 ship with an enabled software firewall, antispyware features, and other security controls.)
MSE is based on the same high-quality anti-malware engine that Microsoft provides to businesses of all sizes via the Forefront line of security products. (The system used protects Hotmail, Microsoft says.) It provides real-time protection against attacks and yet almost never requires user intervention.
Unlike previous consumer-oriented Microsoft security products, MSE is small, fast, and quiet. I recommend it highly to all Windows users, and you can read my review of the product on the SuperSite for Windows for more information. The final version of MSE will appear sometime today (Tuesday).