Microsoft will make its Security Essentials PC security pack, which costs nothing to consumers, free of charge to small businesses as well.
The package, which is the successor to the ill-fated OneCare suite, includes antivirus and anti-adware software and was launched in 2009. On Wednesday, Microsoft said Security Essentials would be released to small businesses for installation on up to 10 PCs — currently, the product's licensing terms limit it to consumer use only.
Eric Ligman, the company's global partner experience lead, wrote in a blog post that those who "want virus and malware protection to be centrally administered and integrated with group policy settings" could go for Microsoft's paid-for Forefront suite instead. "But if you are comfortable with more of a set it and forget it solution, and are looking for an easy way to save money, Microsoft Security Essentials is definitely worth a look," he said.
Security Essentials is one of several free security packages available for download, with significant rivals including AVG and Avast. However, these two suites restrict their free editions — both operate a 'freemium' business model, meaning users can pay for added functionality — to personal, non-commercial use.