When Microsoft launched the first version of its Security Essentials software last year, it seemed to tick all of the right boxes. The program was lightweight, easy to use, offered good protection against malware and, best of all, it was completely free. This week marks the beta release of a new version of the program that hopes to add even more to the winning formula.
New protection engine
The headline feature of the update will be the new protection engine. Not only does it claim to be better at detecting and cleaning up malicious code, but it should boast better performance as well. On top of this, the software will support integration with Internet Explorer for improved protection against web-based threats as well as a built-in network inspection system.
The final major update is quite significant, but something that perhaps should have been included from the first release. Security Essentials will now integrate with Windows Firewall, allowing settings to be adjusted through the program. This probably won't be a huge gain for advance-knowledge users who either know how to tinker with the built-in firewall or disable it altogether. However, the integration should help the average user to take better control over the security of their PC. For a program made by Microsoft, the least we expect is a decent level of communication with other Windows systems, so we're pleased to see this feature being added.
For those interested, the software is available in 32- and 64-bit versions from Microsoft Connect and is compatible with XP, Vista and Windows 7. It is still a beta version though, so the normal caveats and warnings apply. Note that while the download links were apparently experiencing some issues earlier in the week, they seem to be working normally now.