Microsoft announces that the beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials, code-named Morro, will be available for download starting June 23. The free product represents Microsoft's latest swing at the consumer security market, which is dominated by vendors such as Symantec and McAfee.
Say hello to Microsoft Security Essentials.
plans to let the newborn
brother of its Windows Live OneCare
product come out to play next
week. Starting June 23, Microsoft will make a beta version of Security
Essentials-code-named Morro-available for download. The offering is slated for
general availability later in 2009.
Under the hood, the software keeps its focus on fighting
viruses, rootkits and other malware and doesn't deal with firewalls or data
backup like its predecessor
The slimmed-down nature of
the offering has been one of Microsoft's key selling points and gives it a much
smaller download size than other security products.
In addition to daily signature downloads, Microsoft Security Essentials
validates suspicious files against newly
in near-real time by querying the Dynamic Signature
Service. Actions from unknown sources such as unexpected network connections,
attempts to modify privileged parts of the system or the downloading of known
malware all trigger requests for updates from the Dynamic Signature Service,
according to the company.
To help combat rootkits, Microsoft has built in a number of technologies,
including the monitoring of the integrity of kernel structures and support for
direct file-system parsing to help identify and remove malicious programs and
drivers hidden from the file system. In addition, the rootkit removal
technology dynamically loads a new kernel mode driver as part of the cleaning
Rivals in the security space have already begun taking shots at Microsoft's
play, which was largely characterized by industry analysts as evidence of the
failure of Windows Live OneCare to unseat vendors such as Symantec when
Microsoft announced plans for Morro in 2008.
"Microsoft's free software is
a stripped-down version of the OneCare product they pulled from the shelves
with minor updates," said Dave Cole, senior director of product management
"The reality is that shareware and freeware vendors have
been in the market for 20-plus years. The freeware space is crowded and
Microsoft is just joining the fray."
When Microsoft announced plans to discontinue retail sales
of OneCare in 2008, officials said Morro was not meant to compete
head-to-head with offerings from companies like McAfee
and Symantec, but was
intended to bring basic security to PC owners for free.
Windows Live OneCare subscribers will continue to
receive updates and new signatures through the life of their subscriptions,
Microsoft officials said. Retail sales of the product will end June 30.