From today, anti-virus is free, says Microsoft

Just three weeks ahead of the debut of Windows 7 Microsoft has released the final version of its free Security Essentials download.

Available from the program is designed to sniff out and smack down common threats such as viruses spyware rootkits and Trojans.

It runs on Windows XP Vista and 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions provided those systems have recognised as ‘genuine’ installations.

Security Essentials is the stripped-down core of the commercial Windows OneCare application which was  withdrawn from sale last year as work on Security Essentials (codenamed ‘Morro’) began.

Security Essentials is a slimmed-down and streamlined version of Windows OneCare

Microsoft hasn’t baked Security Essentials directly into Windows 7 due to the almost inevitable protests by rival security vendors who would in turn cite anti-trust rulings and potentially delay the release of the OS.

Nor are many big brand OEMs expected to include Security Essentials on new PCs given that the likes of Symantec and McAfee pay the box-builders to include their own time-limited trialware onto the standard install image.