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Microsoft Security Essentials Gets a New Beta Version

Last week (I’m still playing catch-up from my vacation from 7/18 to 7/28, sorry) Microsoft announced the availability of a new beta version of its Microsoft Security Essentials package. Described as a “low-cost light weigh anti-malware service” this package offers reasonable but not top-of-the-line security protection for free to anybody with a genuine Windows license on his or her PC. Independent reviews of the previous version give the package so-so marks (as ably demonstrated in Neil J. Rubenking’s March 2010 review of the program for PC Magazine) where the net-net takeway is something like this “adequate for handling viruses and spyware, not so great with rootkits and scareware/scamware.”

As of June 20, 2010, Microsoft is trying to clean up its act, and is giving users the chance to try out and comment on the upcoming vesion of Security Essentials. To do this, users must log into the MS Microsoft Connect Website (and register, if they aren’t already signed up there), after which they’ll get the chance to sign up for and download the beta vesion of Security Essentials.

Here’s what’s new in this latest edition, straight from that MS Web page:

What’s New in the Microsoft Security Essentials beta?

This Beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials includes these new features and enhancements to better help protect your computer from threats:

1. Windows Firewall integration: Microsoft Security Essentials setup allows you to turn on Windows Firewall.

2. Enhanced protection from web-based threats: Microsoft Security Essentials has enhanced integration with Internet Explorer which helps prevent malicious scripts from running and provides improved protection against web based attacks.

3. New and improved protection engine: The updated engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities and better performance.

As with my previous discussions of and recommendations for Security Essentials, IT pros will probably be able to server their users best by recommending this package as one of a number of free alternatives for home or personal machines where budgets are tight and free software is thus either highly desirable or the only tolerable option.

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