Microsoft to launch free anti-malware software as beta “soon”

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft confirmed that it is getting ready to make a test version of its upcoming anti-malware software soon. Code-named “Morro”, the software is promised to offer “basic protection” against common threats from malware on the Internet.

A Microsoft spokesperson yesterday said that Morro is currently tested by Microsoft employees and will be made available as a public preview version soon. At this time, it is unclear what Morro will be and speculations currently range from a very basic malware package that compares to other free offerings available from companies such as Grisoft to a full replacement for Microsoft’s commercial OneCare anti-malware solution, a product that never was as successful as Microsoft had hoped.

OneCare was introduced in 2006; the retail version of the software is now scheduled to be phased out by the end of this month. No replacement for OneCare has been announced so far.

“Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously,” said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft, in the original Morro announcement from November 2008. “This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware.”

The company said that Morro will work in conjunction with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 and with “the ongoing security and privacy enhancements of Windows and Internet Explorer.” Other than traditional anti-malware software, will use (Microsoft) servers across the Internet to scan PCs for viruses, “making it ideal for low-bandwidth scenarios or less powerful PCs,” the company said.