Microsoft has confirmed via its Genuine Windows Blog that only those Windows users running genuine, validated copies will be able to download and install the new Microsoft Security Essentials software.
The Director of Microsoft's Genuine Windows team, Alex Kochis, stated in his post that, "During installation, you'll be asked to validate Windows running on your PC to make sure that it's genuine."
Windows validation is by no means a new technology, and has been implemented in many of Microsoft's software packages with a few notable exceptions: Internet Explorer 8, for example, and Windows Update which allows users running pirated copies of Windows to download essential security patches without validation.
However, it's Microsoft's reluctance to allow all users to install its security software that has people talking. Many argue that Microsoft should aim to protect all users regardless of how they obtained their copy of Windows, since infected machines pose a potential risk to all Windows systems.
Primary Security Analyst at IT research analyst and consulting firm Gartner, John Pescatore, shares a different view. "Those people [pirates] have many other choices [for system security], including free." He also adds that having alternatives make a big difference, and Microsoft's decision not to allow pirates access to Security Essentials cannot be compared with allowing access to Internet Explorer 8 or Windows Update. He argues that particularly in the case of Windows security patches no alternatives are available through any other software provider but Microsoft.
Microsoft's Security Essentials package was released last Tuesday, ahead of schedule, with a final build number of 1.0.1611.0. It is absolutely free for all genuine users of Windows XP, Vista and 7 in both 32bit and 64bit flavours.