Updated info on Microsoft’s free anti-virus program – Morro

The other day I wrote about an upcoming free anti-virus program from Microsoft called Morro. It is supposed to be the replacement for their OneCare security package which they are withdrawing from the market. At that time there was scant information other than some out-dated screen shots and some supposition about the how’s and why’s of Morro.

Well today Mary Jo Foley was able to provide a little more pertinent information about the program, including when the public beta will be available but not when the final product would hit the web. Here’s a few of the points that Mary Jo was able to get from Alan Packer the General Manager of Microsoft’s Anti-Malware team

  • Microsoft is making MSE available for public beta testing starting some time on June 23. It will be available in 32- and 64-bit flavors, downloadable from the Microsoft Connect site. The test version is targeted at users in English-speaking countries, plus Brazil, Israel (and some time later this year), China (in simplified Chinese).
  • The beta will remain open until the final version of the MSE product is released before the end of calendar 2009. (Microsoft officials won’t provide any more specific of a date target than that.) The final product will be a free download available directly from Microsoft.com.
  • Microsoft will be updating and refreshing the beta code regularly in the coming months by pushing updates over Windows Update and other Web mechanisms. MSE isn’t Microsoft-hosted, but it does include a Dynamic Signature updating service that Microsoft is touting as “cloud-based.”
  • MSE is aimed first and foremost at users who either can’t or won’t pay for antivirus/anti-malware software. There will be no registration required, no trials with an expiration date or required renewals. But Microsoft is restricting the MSE download (both the beta and final) to PCs running Genuine Windows (which has been authenticated as non-pirated).

That last part – the Genuine Windows authentication could prove to problematic for the company though according to some. However the idea for me of a native MS anti-virus and anti-malware package that is free is a big bonus and hopefully will encourage at least a modicum of security for those who don’t seem to care.