Microsoft's free anti-virus and anti-malware tool, Security Essentials, will be available to download in the UK from 5pm today at the Microsoft security site.
The 5Mbyte download runs on any Windows PC from Windows XP SP2 onwards, including Windows Vista and the forthcoming Windows 7. Cliff Evans, head of security and privacy at Microsoft, said the product has been designed to be quick to install and is able to run on relatively low-powered PCs.
See photos: Microsoft Security Essentials test drive
The product is supported by the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, which updates AV signature files every four hours. It also provides a heuristics function, which analyses malware-like behaviour and sends information back to the Microsoft Security Response Center for further analysis.
Security Essentials will not be bundled in Windows 7 when it ships on 22 October. Julia Owens, Windows consumer product manager at Microsoft, said. Updates will be issues through Windows Update, the Microsoft online patching service, or using Microsoft's dynamic signature service.
"Consumers have told us that they want the protection of real-time security software, but that they are confused by trials and renewals and concerned about performance and, as a result, too many are unprotected," said Amy Barzdukas, general manager for consumer security at Microsoft. "With Microsoft Security Essentials, consumers can have high-quality protection that is easy-to-get, easy-to-use, and won't get in their way."
Microsoft said the product has been certified by independent testing labs, including AV Comparatives, West Coast Labs and ICSA Labs.
Operating system: Windows XP Service Pack 2 or 3, Windows Vista, Windows 7 including XP mode; x32 and x64
For Windows XP:
- CPU: 500MHz or higher
- Memory: 256Mbyte Ram or higher
For Windows Vista, Windows 7:
- CPU: 1.0GHz or higher
- Memory: 1Gbyte RAM or higher
- VGA display: 800x600 or higher
- Disc space: 140Myte available hard-disc space
Internet browser: Windows Internet Explorer 6 or later