More alleged Microsoft Morro screen shots, details leak

Microsoft's worst-kept secret, its soon-to-go-public Morro security offering, is getting closer to public beta, it seems. Not only is the final alleged name now known (Microsoft Security Essentials, or MSE), but so is the supposed look and feel of the forthcoming free consumer security product.

Microsoft's worst-kept secret, its soon-to-go-public Morro security offering, is getting closer to public beta, it seems.

Not only is the final alleged name now known (Microsoft Security Essentials, or MSE), but so is the rumor that the OneCare replacement became available inside Microsoft for private testing on June 1.

(Microsoft isn't commenting on any of the latest Morro posts or screen shots.)

Update: it's looking like the MSE name is on the money. I've included a screen capture I found when searching for MSE from a US-Cert Cybersecurity Alert page. The MSE link there redirects to www.microsoft.com/protect, although the MSE beta isn't yet there.

If the new name and seemingly more current Morro screen shots are real, there are a couple of interesting points worth noting about Microsoft's new consumer security offering:

  • Use of the "Essentials" brand makes it seem as though Microsoft is preparing to offer several security services that will be bound by a common installer, a la its Windows Live Essentials suite. If MSE is truly like Live Essentials, it will install software components on users' machines and supplement these components with regularly updated services.
  • The MSE installation wizard is advising testers/users to uninstall other antivirus and antispyware offerings on their systems, as they might conflict with MSE and slow down users' PCs. (Maybe I'm just a little antitrust-attuned as of late, but I'd think Microsoft might want to shy away from that kind of wording....)
  • MSE disables Microsoft's Windows Defender completely

A week or so ago, Microsoft officials told Reuters an external beta of Morro would be released soon. The final release of the product is due before the end of 2009, but is expected sooner rather than later, as Microsoft is completely halting OneCare retail sales by June 30.

Last fall, Microsoft officials gave as the reason for moving from a paid subscription security service (OneCare) to a free one (Morro/MSE) the need to insure more Windows users were running some kind of antivirus/antimalware software. By getting Morro on all consumer PCs, especially those whose users may not have the money or interest to run antivirus/anti-malware software, Microsoft believes it will be better able to better secure the entire Windows ecosystem.

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