Test a beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials

There is a beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials available that promises to perform better than the current version.

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is the company's free anti-virus and anti-malware application, and it works really well. I use it for all my personal computers, and I have been recommending it to all my family and friends for the past couple of years. I like it better than other free anti-virus applications because it does a much better job of operating in the background without disrupting what is going on in the foreground.

Beta released

The Security Essentials home website has a new link where you can download a beta version of the application. MSE has not changed much since its initial release, so a face-lift along with some functional enhancements is long overdue.

The Microsoft Security Essential beta website

Quoting from the beta website, here is what's new:

This Beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials includes the following new features and enhancements to better help protect your PC from threats:

  • Enhanced protection through automatic malware remediation: The Beta program will clean highly impacting malware infections automatically, with no required user interaction.
  • Enhanced performance: The Beta includes many performance improvements to make sure your PC performance isn't compromised.
  • Simplified UI: Simplified UI makes Microsoft Security Essentials Beta easier to use.
  • New and improved protection engine: The updated engine offers enhanced detection with cleanup capabilities and better performance.

Note you have to have a Windows Live account and use the Microsoft Transfer Manager to download the files necessary for installation of the beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials. You will also have to accept new Software License terms.

MSE Installation Wizard
Editor's Note: A day or two after publication of this blog post, Microsoft closed the beta to new testers. At some point, they may open the beta to additional testing, but as of December 7, 2011, they had not.

Beta observations

The first thing I noticed about the beta is that the beta user interface looks just like the current version interface. I guess Microsoft is sticking to the KISS principle. I did a quick scan on my test PC, and my gut feeling is that the beta version performed its scan about 20% quicker.

The old MSE
New MSE interface - Can you tell the difference?

If you give the beta Security Essentials a try, let us know how it performs for you. We would like to get some real-world results.

Beta MSE details

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.