Final Microsoft Security Essentials due in 'a few weeks'

Microsoft is preparing to end its Microsoft Security Essential (MSE) beta and release the final version of the program "in the coming weeks," company officials told testers on September 20.

Microsoft is preparing to end its Microsoft Security Essential (MSE) beta and release the final version of the program "in the coming weeks."

From the note Microsoft sent to its beta participants:

"The final version of Microsoft Security Essentials will be released to the public in the coming weeks. If you are running the older version of the beta (1.0.1407.0), we encourage you to upgrade to a newer version of the beta (1.0.1500.0)."

MSE, codenamed "Morro," is the replacement for Windows Live OneCare and a superset of Windows Defender. Microsoft officials have said it is meant for consumers who are unwilling or unable to pay for security software. More than 400,000 testers are believed to have downloaded the test version of MSE.

Microsoft execs have begun attempting to differentiate MSE from the company's Forefront Client product, a new version of which is due out in the beginning of 2010.

I asked Microsoft a few questions from my readers recently about Forefront and how it compares and contrasts with MSE. Here are a few of them, with answers provided by a Microsoft spokesperson:

Reader: Is Forefront Client supported only available for managed environments -- and requires the purchase of a management console ($ 2,468/server/year!)?

Microsoft: Forefront Client Security is supported in an unmanaged environment. In fact, we have many customers who have licensed FCS and deployed it in an unmanaged manner.  A good example of this is the Egyptian Ministry of Education Furthermore, when the Forefront Protection Manager is released next year, it will be offered to customers for free when they buy Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010.

As a reminder, Forefront Client Security (the next version Forefront Endpoint Protection) is part of Forefront Protection Suite –  an integrated, centrally managed enterprise security suite for protection across client, server, messaging, and network edge, all part of the Business Ready Security strategy.

Reader: Forefront Client Security IS NOT supported on a domain controller at all (neither client, nor server components); nor on a virtual machine host (neither client, nor server components); nor on a Terminal server/gateway machine (neither client, nor server components). It is only supported on servers that have ONLY the file server role installed. So how can MS say this is a SMB solution?

Microsoft: Forefront Client Security (client agent) is supported on different server roles including domain controller, hyper-v environment and servers running terminal services.  Latest information on supported platforms for client and server installation is provided here:

Reader: Will Microsoft continue to preload Windows Defender on Windows machines with Windows 7? Or is the expectation we will have to buy Forefront client?

Microsoft: Yes, defender is part of Win7.

Reader: How can this be this true? Microsoft Security Essentials is NOT supported for businesses of any kind.  Not only that, but it is licensed for consumer use only, and carries similar license wording to Office Home & Student.

Microsoft: Microsoft Security Essentials is designed for home use. It requires no registration, trials or renewals and will be available for download directly from Microsoft. Microsoft continues to offer security solutions for businesses with the Forefront line of products as part of its Business Ready Security strategy . However Microsoft Security Essentials may be a good solution for small home offices with only a few individually managed PCs.

Any other questions you have on either MSE or Forefront client? Fire away and I'll try to get some more Microsoft answers.