Microsoft prompted users of existing MSE releases (including versions 1.0.1407.0, 1.0.1500.0, 1.0.1610.0, 1.0.1961.0, or an earlier version) to upgrade on June 28. The upgrade - version number 1.0.1963.0 - was marked Important or High Priority. (A quick refresher on MSE: MSE is Microsofts replacement for Windows Live OneCare and a superset of Windows Defender. Microsoft officials have said it is meant for consumers who are unwilling or unable to pay for security software. Theres a more business-focused, paid version of this bundle, known as Forefront EndPoint Protection (formerly known as Forefront Client Security), the latest version of which is due later this year.)
There was basically no information in the accompanying Microsoft Knowledge Base article about exactly whats included in the new MSE update (but plenty of information as to how to click on the upgrade/download tab. So whats inside? A Microsoft spokesperson sent back this response: This (MSE) release is a part of the standard update cycle and includes only minor updates and fixes. This update contains some minor enhancements and compatibility fixes to facilitate a seamless upgrade experience to future versions of Microsoft Security Essentials.
Microsoft has another client-based security offering, its Forefront Client package - which, as of early September, supported Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 (but not yet the server core offering). Theres a new version (part of its Stirling family), which is currently in its second beta release and expected to launch in final form in the first half of 2010. The final name for the new release will be Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010. While the core engine of MSE is the same as whats in Forefront client, Forefront also provides security management capabilities that arent in MSE, such as group policy control, NAP integration and integrated host-firewall management. Unlike MSE, Forefront client is not free; Microsoft is selling the product for $12.72 per user or device per year, according to a chart on its Web site. (Its not clear whether this also will be the price for the new version next year.)
To determine which version of Microsoft Security Essentials that you are running, click About Microsoft Security Essentials on the Help menu. The Help menu is found on the upper-right corner of the Microsoft Security Essentials Home tab. You can find the Microsoft Security Essentials version number under System Information