Microsoft Security Essentials to Target Small Businesses

Microsoft is updating its Security Essentials licensing agreement to make the software more broadly available to small business owners.

Microsoft is targeting small and midsize businesses with changes to the licensing agreement for its Security Essentials software.

Right now, the licensing agreement states users "may install and use any number of copies of the software on your devices in your household for use by people who reside there or for use in your home-based small business." Starting in early October, however, the language will be modified so that the agreement covers SMBs whether they are home-based or not, Microsoft explained.

"What it boils down to is that Microsoft Security Essentials can be installed on up to 10 PCs, no matter if they are home-based or office-based," a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK. "We view users operating a business out of their homes not to be 'home users' - even though the business is based out of their home."

Released in 2009, Microsoft Security Essentials was touted as a free, lightweight security tool. It took the place of Windows Live OneCare, which Microsoft phased out in 2008.

There have been no changes to the product itself; however, a new version featuring an updated anti-malware engine and new integration with Internet Explorer remains in beta, Microsoft said.

"When we launched Microsoft Security Essentials last year, small businesses kept telling us that it was exactly the type of thing they need at work too...We want the entire Windows ecosystem to be secure," said Jeff Smith, director of marketing for Microsoft Security Essentials, in a statement. "By making Microsoft Security Essentials so broadly available, everyone wins. And we think small-business owners are going to be really happy with what they get."