updated 11:50 pm EDT, Mon September 28, 2009
Security Essentials utility to be offered for free
Microsoft is set to launch its new anti-malware service, Security Essentials. The utility is designed to help protect systems against viruses, spyware or other maliciously crafted software. Following the same basic structure as third-party antivirus software, Microsoft's program runs in the background and alerts users as potential threats arise.
Security has been a primary component of Apple's "Get a Mac" ads claiming Windows systems are prone to viruses and malware. Microsoft has also been criticized for slowly addressing security vulnerabilities and forcing consumers to pay for third-party software to protect their computers. It remains unknown if the new service will help to quell the negative appraisals.
Although the overall number of threats targeting the Mac platform is lower than Windows, several analysts suggest the Snow Leopard OS is still too weak. The integrated Mac OS X antivirus functionality appears to be in the early stages of development, with a short list of Trojans and a limited number of scanned programs and processes.
Microsoft Security Essentials will be available beginning Tuesday for computers running Windows XP, Vista or 7.