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.
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.