Microsoft Security Essentials (Morro) public beta announced

By Kip Kniskern | In News | Posted June 18, 2009 11 comments

MSE Microsoft has taken the wraps off of its successor to the soon to be discontinued Windows Live OneCare, announcing today that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), a free to download “superset” of Windows Defender will become available on June 23.  Ed Bott and Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet have details, but here are some of the highlights:

  • First, the company line on what the new software entails:
    • To address consumer demand for quality anti-malware protection that’s easy to get and doesn’t slow down system performance, Microsoft Security Essentials has been designed as a no-cost anti-malware solution that provides consumers with quality protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans. It will be offered directly from Microsoft and has been designed to be hassle-free and is focused on delivering quality protection that’s easy to use.
  • MSE will be available for download starting at 9am PDT on Tuesday June 23rd in the US, Brazil, and Israel from 
  • If those sound like a somewhat random choice of countries, well a team in Israel worked on MSE, and Brazil apparently has lots of unprotected Windows machines in use.
  • China will also be an early target market for MSE, with a version in Simplified Chinese expected soon.
  • Unlike Windows Live OneCare, MSE will not require a Windows Live ID, or any personal information.  It will however, require WGA validation
  • Microsoft is saying that MSE will ship “before the end of the year”.

Windows Live OneCare for a time fared poorly in independent tests, but Ed Bott notes that the latest versions of OneCare have been doing much better:

A new study (May 2009) by the independent AV-Comparatives group gave Microsoft OneCare (which shares the same engine and signatures as MSE) its highest (Advanced+) rating. Only 3 of the 16 products in the test earned that rating. Microsoft’s technology scored second in the accuracy ratings, behind AVIRA but ahead of AVG, Symantec, McAfee, and a dozen other products. And on the crucial measure of delivering the fewest false positives, Microsoft stood far ahead of the pack, delivering the fewest false positives of any program tested.

However, and probably at least partly because of its poor showing in the AV-Comparatives tests, Windows Live OneCare was never a big seller.  One advantage to free anti-malware solutions is that they provide a large sample set across the install base, something that OneCare wasn’t delivering and MSE may provide.  Gathering info on a large sample base of malware will not only help to improve MSE, but Microsoft’s enterprise level ForeFront offerings, as well.

Posted June 18th, 2009 at 5:22 am
  • brentgv

    I can’t wait to download this next week. I am using AVG on Win7 and haven’t had an issue, but if it’s better and FREE, why not?

  • tophtucker

    I’ve been quite thoroughly pleased by my experience with OneCare. Oh well. :

    Free is certainly a plus. :)

    If there’s anything MS should be bundling with Windows, it’s this. But regulators would cry foul, I imagine. :(

    I liked the idea of offering a browser ballot box, though. There’s room for bundling *and* choice. And yet, you don’t want to stuff the system with too much, well, stuff….

  • lord_canti86

    I’d like to see how MSE/Windows Firewall compares to Comodo’s offerings.

  • Alber1690

    This will make fixing friends’ PCs so much easier…thank you Microsoft.

  • blad3runn69

    awesome! Thank you Microsoft Team.
    The onecare online scanner sure was handy for a regclean :/
    p.s Great work on Windows 7 Firewall!

  • BTNH Fan

    I’m already using it and i love it. It runs smoothly, and does not waste lots of resources.

    Easy to use, and has a nice interface.

  • MenthiX

    Sounds great.

    Really interesting to see Microsoft’s scanning engine to rank that high in the Retrospective/Proactive test, but on the On-demand Comparative test it’s almost the worst. Everything together tho, including the very few false positives it seems a very decent scanner. Especially for free.

    Eset NOD32 is still the only scanner ranking Advanced+ on all tests :)

    PDF Test result are here btw…
    Retrospective/Proactive and On-demand Comparative:
    Performance Test:

  • GoodThings2Life

    Umm, what report are you looking at that showed it “almost the worst” ? When I look at the February and May reports, it’s ranked very high (#2 on the May reports).

  • MenthiX

    21- On-demand Comparative – February 2009

    See the graph on page 9. Remember lower is better on that graph.

  • Tony T

    the only thing I see so far is that there is not backup integrated into it like in OneCare. That was a big plus IMO. :-(

  • Jamie

    “MSE will be available for download starting at 9am PDT on Tuesday June 23rd in the US, Brazil, and Israel from

    This statement is abit false:

    This beta is available only to customers in the United States, United Kingdom, Israel (English only), People’s Republic of China (Simplified Chinese only) and Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese only).

    Also you need a Microsoft Connect Account and Windows Live ID to download it currently from the Security Essentials Website