Microsoft confirmed that it will launch its free security software suite, which has been in development for almost a year, Tuesday morning.
"Microsoft Security Essentials, their highly anticipated no-cost consumer security offering, will be released to the public tomorrow, September 29," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail reply to questions.
The spokeswoman added that the program will be made available Tuesday morning, Pacific time, although she did not have a specific hour for the launch.
Earlier in the day, Network World 's John Fontana had been told by Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's sever and tools division, that the company would ship the free software Tuesday.
Security Essentials, which Microsoft offered to a limited number of beta testers last June, is the company's replacement for Windows Live OneCare, a for-a-fee security suite that was retired at the end of June 2009. Microsoft has pitched the software as a basic anti-virus, anti-spyware program that consumes less memory and disk space than commercial security suites, like those from vendors such as McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.
Those companies, however, unanimously dismissed Security Essentials -- once codenamed "Morro" -- as proof that Microsoft couldn't compete in the paying market.
According to one researcher, those security vendors have little to fear from Microsoft's giveaway. "It won't be the application that puts Symantec or McAfee out of business," said Andrew Storms, the director of security operations at nCircle Network Security. "...Microsoft still has to prove itself in this arena. Take, for example, Windows Defender, which has been free. It's not necessarily the best anti-spyware product available."
Storms also wondered how Microsoft's re-entry into the consumer security space would affect the relationships it's built with antivirus vendors, including those that involve the sharing of threat intelligence. "We've come to learn that Symantec and others have shared their threats and risk information with Microsoft in an effort to better protect all consumers. If Microsoft starts dipping into the market share of these partners, will it affect that intelligence sharing?
The free Security Essentials will be available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 as a 4.7MB download from the Microsoft Web site.