Report: Final version of free Microsoft Security Essentials to ship September 29

Just over a week after telling beta testers that the final version of Microsoft's free Security Essentials antimalware product would be released soon, Microsoft is set to deliver the final bits to the public -- possibly as soon as tomorrow, September 29.

Just over a week after telling beta testers that the final version of Microsoft's free Security Essentials antimalware product would be released soon, Microsoft is set to deliver the final bits to the public.

I've seen a couple of unsourced reports about the final MSE (codenamed "Morro") bits going live on September 29, which is tomorrow. But this tweet from Network World Editor John Fontana sealed it:

I've asked Microsoft for an official confirmation but haven't heard back from anyone. (Muglia is about as official as it gets, though....)

Update: Microsoft is now confirming MSE will ship on September 29.  From a spokesperson: "I can confirm that Microsoft Security Essentials, the company's highly anticipated no cost consumer security offering, will be released to the public tomorrow, September 29th." It will be available in 19 markets worldwide, according to the company. The final build no. is 1611 and it is available here: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials.

MSE is the replacement for Windows Live OneCare and a superset of Windows Defender. Microsoft officials have said it will work on Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. More than 400,000 testers are believed to have downloaded the test version of MSE.

Microsoft is targeting MSE at customers 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.

On September 29, Microsoft also is holding a Webcast where CEO Steve Ballmer is planning to detail how Microsoft customers can, with less, do more. It's part of the company's "New Efficiency" enterprise-focused campaign and is slated to touch on a host of soon-to-be-shipping Microsoft products, including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange 2010, Forefront, System Center and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.

Microsoft is planning to deliver in early 2010 a new version of its Forefront client, its paid desktop security product, that competes with/complements MSE. The company is stepping up its message that Windows 7 will offer more than just consumer-focused features (which has been Microsoft marketing's main focus to date).