Features of the new beta include integration with Internet Explorer, a new and more robust antimalware engine, and protection against network-based threats.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Microsoft released a beta of the new version of its Security Essentials antimalware software on Tuesday, sporting a few changes and enhancements.
Following version 1.0 of the free Security Essentials released in September, the folks in Redmond outfitted the 2.0 beta with an updated antimalware engine. The new engine is smarter at detecting and removing security threats and offers a better performance, according to a Microsoft blog. The software also now integrates directly with Windows Firewall and gives users the option to turn the firewall on or off.
By integrating with Internet Explorer, the Security Essentials beta provides greater protection against Web-based threats, Microsoft said. It can also watch for attacks that come via a network, though this option is only available in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Users of Windows XP can't take advantage of this particular feature because XP lacks the necessary Windows Filtering Platform.
You can find and download the new beta at Microsoft's Connect page where you'll need to log in with a Windows Live account. You'll then be directed to the download page where you choose whether to grab the 32-bit or 64-bit version.
Microsoft has promised to keep the beta current with the latest virus and spyware definitions and also provide ongoing updates to the software itself. To receive the software updates, you'll need to subscribe to Microsoft Update and set your preferences to automatically download and install new updates, according to the company.
The beta is only for people in the U.S., Israel (English only), China (Simplified Chinese only) and Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese only). And it's available on a first-come, first-served basis, apparently just until a certain quota has been reached.
The initial release of Security Essentials garnered mostly positive feedback, faring well in a challenge by testing firm AV-Test and bringing home positive reviews from CNET and other tech sources.