Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

Summary: Microsoft made available to testers this week a new beta build (2.0.522.0) of its next release of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), the company's free anti-virus/anti-malware product for Windows.

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Microsoft made available to testers this week a new beta build (2.0.522.0) of its next release of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), the company's free anti-virus/anti-malware product for Windows.

On November 9, Microsoft began pushing out via Windows Update a "beta refresh" of that product. (One of my readers said this technically is the Release Candidate build of the new MSE, but Microsoft officials are not calling it that publicly.)

Microsoft delivered the first beta of the new MSE in July 2010. At that time, the Softies said the new version would include:

  • Windows Firewall integration (allowing users to turn on or off the Windows Firewall during setup)
  • Internet Explorer integration for additional protection against Web-based attacks
  • An updated anti-malware engine with “enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities with better performance”
  • Network inspection system functionality to help fend off network-based exploits

There's a new Microsoft Knowledge Base article out that describes what is part of the MSE beta refresh. According to that article, the refresh includes "improvements to the quality of the product including performance enhancements as well as some user interface modifications." The product team has removed  the protection against web threats feature in the Security Essentials Beta "as it was causing PC performance issues," according to the article.

According to WinRumors.com, Microsoft also has added new mechanisms to help thwart Windows 7 activation-bypass hacks. If users running the new MSE on their Windows 7 machines cannot pass Genuine validation and do not resolve the issue, after 30 days, MSE will be disabled, according to WinRumors.

Update: Microsoft is denying that the new beta includes any activation feature changes. From a spokesperson: "Microsoft did not make any changes between v1.0 (SU2 in Feb 2010 to be exact) and the current version of the beta of v2 regarding Microsoft’s genuine check mechanism. Nothing has changed and this is not new."

Microsoft officials -- at least up until today -- have been saying they expect to release the final version of the updated MSE to the Web later this calendar year. (The aforementioned reader said that general availability may not happen until January, 2011.) Microsoft didn't respond when I asked about this officials are now saying MSE 2 will be generally available "when it is ready," and aren't commenting further.

Microsoft released the near-final Release Candidate test version of  its paid Windows security product, Forefront Endpoint Protection, at the start of this week. FEP is slated to be released to manufacturing before the end of calendar 2010.

MSE (originally codenamed "Morro") originally was aimed at Windows users who are unwilling and unable to pay for security software. Company officials have said they believed it was worth offering customers a free product to help thwart security breaches on unprotected Windows PCs that potentially could be used to infect other users’ systems.

Since the introduction of the first version of MSE, Microsoft has stepped up its marketing of the product and is now making it available for free to small businesses with 10 or fewer PCs. Some of Microsoft's antivirus/anti-malware partners and competitors have been none to keen on Microsoft's decision to make MSE available via Windows Update.

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Operating Systems, Security, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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6 comments
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  • RE: Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

    Perhaps the IE integration was what has been causing odd pauses on a few web pages. I haven't had the new version long enough to know whether the beta refresh solved that.

    (I'm also using IE9 with the platform preview engine hacked in, so pretty much anything is possible. I don't actually like the machine's Reliability Index doing a random walk in the 5 to 7 area, but it's not a mission critical machine.)
    John Baxter
    • RE: Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

      @John Baxter Yeah, I've been seeing that happen as well.
      Bryan Price
  • Shabam!

    MSE, Zone Alarm Firewall, and Malwarebyte's Antimalware coupled together make a good security suite. You get a lightweight antivirus, superb firewall, and exceptional antispyware. All FREE. In other words, I can't wait until MSE 2.0 is released.
    statuskwo5
  • RE: Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

    I think MSE is great and should be included in Windows by default. This day-and-age, having this kind of security in an OS is a must-have core feature, unfortunately, not an optional add-on...
    Rob30000
  • MSSE Beta: Is removed protection truly an improvement?

    The following statement (from Microsoft and simply repeated in this article and elsewhere) on the 2.0.0522.0 Beta release of MSSE just begs for discussion:<br><br>"The product team has removed the protection against web threats feature in the Security Essentials Beta as it was causing PC performance issues."<br><br>So far, there seems to be a lack of information that sheds light on the "PC performance issues," or on the implications of removing protection against "web threats."<br><br>A bit of expansion on this would be helpful.
    KaatjeR
  • RE: Microsoft delivers another beta build of next-gen Microsoft Security Essentials

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