A beta version of Microsoft's free anti-virus software -- code-named Morro -- will soon be available from the company's Web site, according to a report.
Reuters says Microsoft employees are already testing the software ahead of a broader rollout in the near future. The company declined to provide a specific date for Morro's release, but said the trial version would be available "soon."
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Microsoft announced its plan to replace its Windows Live OneCare security software with a free anti-virus product last November.
The company said at the time that Morro would help encourage more people to take anti-virus seriously, claiming nearly 50 percent of Windows users don't have an anti-virus tool installed on their PC.
"Our goal with OneCare was to get more customers more protected, and I don't think we were able to do that to the extent that we would have liked," said Amy Barzdukas, a senior director of product management with Microsoft. "As we look around the world now, the countries where PC growth is most rapid, in emerging markets such as Brazil and India and China, the malware threat is even greater."
However, Morro, which is expected to run Windows OneCare's antimalware engine but will use fewer system resources, won't be bundled into the operating system, Barzdukas said at the time. That decision could help placate concerns from security software vendors, whose ability to sell anti-virus products to consumers would be hampered if Microsoft bundled a free tool with its operating systems.