Microsoft recruiting users to beta test new Security Essentials

Microsoft is unveiling a beta of the next version of its Security Essentials anti-malware program and is hunting for people who can give it a test drive.

Users interested in trying out the beta can officially register at the sign-up page. A Microsoft Live account is required, and the company promises to send out e-mails when the beta is available to download.

The number of initial beta testers required will be limited, according to a recent Microsoft blog. But the company expects to release the beta to the general public by year’s end.

Microsoft is touting several new features in Security Essential’s next release, including a simpler interface, better performance, and savvier detection and cleanup features. The new version will also be able to automatically remove severe malware infections without bothering the user.
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Security Essentials initially launched in 2009 as a beta and soon graduated to version 1.0. The product fared well in an early test by security firm AV-Test.

Microsoft released version 2.0 last December, improving its speed and smarts at detecting malware and tying it in with the built-in Windows Firewall.

But the future of Security Essentials may be up in the air, at least when it comes to Windows 8. Microsoft is planning to beef up its built-in Windows Defender tool for its upcoming OS to take on more of the power and functionality currently found in Security Essentials.

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