MIcrosoft's Free Anti-Malware Tool Goes Live

Microsoft's new Security Essentials anti-malware product has just gone live. The site has been updated in the past hour or so, since we last checked it, and users can now download Microsoft Security Essentials for 32-bit Windows XP, and 32- and 64-bit Windows Vista/7.

That's correct, in case you're wondering. There is no support for 64-bit Windows XP, at least for now.

Microsoft's reasoning behind the free security software is, according to the company, to be sure that users in emerging markets are protected, as many of those users can't afford to buy antivirus software. As you probably know (and as Apple loves to trumpet), malware writers focus their efforts on Windows (understandably, considering its dominance).

On the other hand, the product Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) replaces, OneCare Live, certainly did not duplicate the dominance of the OS. It never really gathered much market share, and also was a poor performance, at least at first, with poor results in third-party AV tests such the VB100.

Symantec and McAfee, the big guns among security software, have not expressed much concern over MSE, but realistically, the word "free" combined with the word "Microsoft" is bound to attract users. There are a number of free AV products on the market, such as Avast, AVG, Comodo, and others, but they don't have that huge "Microsoft" logo and the trust (??) associated with it.

Microsoft has maintained the "simplistic" attitude in terms of alerting the end user of problems. As Microsoft says, "when you’re green, you’re good," just as with OneCare Live.

The question is, will this reduce the number of botnets and infections in emerging markets? Additionally, will consumers in places like the U.S. and Europe grab onto it? Readers, will you try it?