Update: Microsoft Security Essentials final version released

Finally, after a year-long development phase, Microsoft Security Essentials has been publicly released. If you can't wait to get your hands on Microsoft's latest security software, you don't need to wait any longer.

Microsoft recently confirmed the final version would be made available "in the coming weeks" but has taken the wraps off the final edition today. The final build number is 1.0.1611.0.

Security Essentials is designed to work on Windows XP, Vista and 7 and protects end users against virus threats and spy ware. MSE is Microsoft's free anti-virus and anti-spyware product that is set to replace Microsoft's paid Windows Live OneCare subscription service which was withdrawn earlier this year. Neowin exclusively revealed Security Essentials in June when it was codenamed "Morro".

In June, a public-beta was offered, and the download limit was reached within 24 hours. It will be absolutely free for all users of Windows XP, Vista and 7, and distributed in both 32bit and 64bit flavors — as long as you have a genuine copy of Windows. Microsoft will not bundle it with Windows 7, though, when it's released on October 22nd, 2009.

"Consumers have told us that they want the protection of real-time security software but we know that too many are either unwilling or unable to pay for it, and so end up unprotected," said Amy Barzdukas, general manager for consumer security at Microsoft. "With Microsoft Security Essentials, consumers can get high-quality protection that is easy to get and easy to use – and it won't get in their way."

MSE is likely to be targeted to compete with the low end of anti-virus products from other providers, and it is not expected to make a big impact on sales of full-blown security suites. MSE is designed for home use. It requires no registration, trials or renewals and is available for download directly from Microsoft. Most users are expected to be home users or small businesses with a only a small amount of managed PCs. In a statement earlier this year, Janice Chaffin, president of Symantec's Consumer Division claimed: "Microsoft's free product is basically a stripped down version of the OneCare product Microsoft pulled from the shelves. A full Internet security suite is what consumers require today to stay fully protected."

Security Essentials ranked fourth in a test with other leading free malware protection. If you are interested in MSE you can read an informative early review by Paul Thurott here.

Download: Windows XP (32 bit)
Download: Windows Vista & Windows 7 (32 bit)
Download: Windows Vista & Windows 7 (64 bit)

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