Announcing: Microsoft Security Essentials available FREE to Small Businesses in October!

Here is some great news for all of the small businesses out there from Microsoft that I am very happy to be able to tell you about!

As we all know, small businesses are under incredible pressure to:

  1. Reduce operating costs
  2. Improve productivity
  3. Grow their business
  4. Do all of this in a very challenging economic climate

It’s also no secret that most small businesses today do not have a dedicated IT professional on staff to manage their IT resources (which you may recall is why we originally launched the Small Business Specialist Community of partners worldwide). Small business owners and employees are focused on running their business, not managing complicated IT infrastructure.

imageFor those reasons, we are extremely excited today to let you know that Microsoft is making its Microsoft Security Essentials available to small businesses on up to 10 PCs for FREE, beginning in early October!  By providing Microsoft Security Essentials to small businesses free of charge, Microsoft extends its commitment to help these companies save money and grow their business by offering no-cost protection from viruses, spyware and other malicious threats.

Not familiar with Microsoft Security Essentials?  In many ways, Microsoft Security Essentials is an excellent solution for your small business. It is very easy to get and very simple to use. The software requires no registration, trials or renewals and is available for download directly from Microsoft. There is also no need to have other cumbersome security programs installed on your PCs since Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection to address the ongoing security needs of a genuine Windows PC, helping to protect it from viruses, spyware and other malicious threats. Perhaps best of all; however, is that Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to run quietly in the background, enabling you to continue using your PC – and running your small business – without constant interruptions.

Take a look at this video by Theresa Burch, director of product management, who gives a look at the details of Microsoft Security Essentials for a little more about what Microsoft Security Essentials can do for your business:

Now, some of you may ask whether Microsoft Forefront Client Security is a better security solution for your business. Well, that depends… If you want virus and malware protection to be centrally administered and integrated with group policy settings, then Forefront is a better option for you. But if you are comfortable with more of a set it and forget it solution, and are looking for an easy way to save money, Microsoft Security Essentials is definitely worth a look. (You can also find a Microsoft partner located near you that can help with determining the right Microsoft security solution for you)

Here is a glimpse of why you can trust Microsoft Security Essentials to protect your business:

  • Microsoft Security Essentials is powered by the same core malware protection engine that drives Microsoft’s enterprise solutions.
  • The antimalware engine used in Microsoft Security Essentials – and in all of Microsoft’s security products – is regularly tested by numerous organizations around the world and has consistently been certified by the industry’s leading independent certification authorities: International Computer Security Association Labs (ICSA) and West Coast Labs, VB100, and AV-Test.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials uses advanced system scanning and removal technologies that employ a definitions database that details the characteristics and behaviors of known malware. Threats are collected every month from more than 600 million PCs around the world and are assessed by the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, and new signatures are written and deployed daily.

Small business owners consistently tell us that their business information is critical and that any downtime caused by security threats or data loss can greatly impact their business. Because of this, we do advise small business owners to consider upgrading to Windows 7 Professional for their business computers. Why? Simple: With Windows 7 Professional, we prioritized speed, reliability, compatibility, and connectivity to keep their systems up and running. Plus, now with Microsoft Security Essentials in the mix to provide no-cost protection from viruses, spyware and other malicious threats, small businesses can focus on what really matters, running their business. (NOTE: Windows 7 is not a system requirement for Microsoft Security Essentials, which is available separately as a no-cost download from Microsoft.)

If you are a Microsoft partner, did you know you can participate in the free Microsoft Security Essentials distribution as well? The Microsoft Link Logo Program allows financial institutions, academic institutions, or any other company or business that has consumer-facing Web-based services to offer Microsoft Security Essentials to their customers easily and at no cost.  (Logo examples to the right)

OEMs and System Builders can pre-install Microsoft Security Essentials on their consumer-bound PCs to provide quality malware protection to their customers out of the box and at no cost. For more information related to opportunities for Microsoft partners, please visit the Microsoft Security Essentials partner page. This is one more tool you can use in your services offerings to provide a complete solution for your small business clients.



So, if you are a small business with 10 or fewer PCs, take a look at Microsoft Security Essentials today as a no-cost, antivirus and antimalware option for you!

For more information on this news, check out the feature story up on

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Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and RSS and see “What I’m thinking
Global Partner Experience Lead
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights

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Comments (34)

  1. rogerj says:

    Does the small-business version support installation on Windows Server 2008 [R2] and the forthcoming SBS version?


  2. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Rogerj – Microsoft Security Essentials was designed to provide desktop protection. We would not recommend installing it on servers.  As noted in the post above, you might want to look to Forefront if you are interested in centralized management and group policy integration.

  3. Bill says:

    Only 10 PC's??

  4. TheHoleGroup says:

    As a company that has a bunch Forefront Client Security agreements out there, how am I to respond to my install base now that Microsoft is giving it away?  How does Security Essentials stack up compared to Forefront Client Security?  What motivation do my clients have to continue with Forefront Client Security?  My initial reaction is that my second and third year agreement payments may cease along with a big portion of my volume licensing business… :(

  5. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Bill – Yes, this is for up to 10 PCs only.

  6. robert says:

    Too bad MS had to choose a number to set the limit between small and large business, I will have preferred 25 :-P

  7. bttr says:

    Sorry, but I don't get the point, as MSE is already available for free as long as you have a valid Windows license.

  8. Bill says:

    What if a user in a small business has a desktop, laptop and a netbook would that use 3 of the 10 copies or are you saying 10 employees can be protected? Also how can a small business with on IT staff and no one really auditing know when they have installed their 10 free software packages? What is the cost of the 11th copy?

  9. Steve says:

    Nice!  Another advantage for Microsoft.  Heck, I've already converted at home.  Free defs, less of a resource hog.

  10. mssmallbiz says:

    @ bttr – Microsoft Security Essentials has been available for consumers/home users for awhile now; however, it has not been licensed for business use.  With this announcement, we are expanding who is eligible to use Microsoft Security Essentials to include business users on up to 10 PCs.

  11. mssmallbiz says:

    @ TheHoleGroup – (Is this Bill by chance??)  Many small businesses want a centrally managed and integrated IT solution that provides deployment, management, and analysis capabilities. These businesses should continue to use the Microsoft Forefront line of products ( as part of its Business Ready Security strategy ( While Microsoft Security Essentials offers great desktop antivirus and anti-malware protection, it was not designed to run on servers and has no centralized administration or group policy capabilities.

  12. Nicholas Piasecki says:

    Why is making the distinction and 10 PC limit even worthwhile? You can't easily manage the product via Group Policy software deployment or manage scans/updates through WSUS, which naturally curbs the larger deployments of MSE and encourages migration to the Forefront or third-party products. This is legalese-to-make-up-for-marketing-failures that was probably ignored by most small business up until now anyway–if it's available on for "free," then it is "free" to them, I see it all the time. Differentiate by feature set and value, not by EULAs. If you want to encourage sales of Forefront to small business, then you need to simplify the licensing of that product and sell it COTS on the Microsoft Store, download link and all, not through resellers. Up sell it with a "Buy now" link directly from the MSE client, done.

    My two cents =) MSE is a great product!

  13. JP says:

    Can companies BUY  MSE if they have more than 10 users?  We have 80 users but no need for a more complex system.

  14. thommck says:

    According to the terms on the MSE website it was always free for business users but it was unsupported.

  15. mssmallbiz says:

    @ thommck – Actually, if you take a look at the licensing terms (located at:…/eula.aspx), it says, "You may install and use any number of copies of the software on your devices in your household for use by people who reside there or for use in your home-based small business."  It is currently licensed for home use and home-based small businesses only, not commercial business use.  With the announcement above, we are going to be expanding the licensing to allow #MSE to be used in small businesses on up to 10 PCs.

  16. MISTER PC says:

    Well done Microsoft on helping small business get a security solution that is free and of higher quality than most of the so called Anti-Virus products on the market that just want money for bloated products.

    I agree that the number could be slightly higher, maybe 15-25, but 10 is a good start.

    I am a reseller and sick of trying to align my business with an Antivirus company that just wants to take the customer's money and add a cash carrot for me to do it without supplying a good product.

    Also once they get the money, they keep looking at ways they can try to get more.

    Offering this free solution to my customers increases the customer's trust relationship with me as a reseller which in turn will get more sales in the long run of the products customers need or want.

    Keep up the good work Microsoft.

  17. Frank says:

    Well, good News. Unfortunatly only for Business. But what's about the world of education: K-12 Schools and so on. This would be a great deal too.

  18. mssmallbiz says:

    @ JP – We have no plans to make Microsoft Security Essentials available for SMBs with a larger PC base or enterprise customers. For businesses with more than 10 PCs, Microsoft continues to offer security solutions for businesses with the Forefront line of products ( as part of its Business Ready Security strategy (

  19. John from Germany says:


    I hope Microsoft will make it installable on Windows Home Server because I don´t know any Malware-Solution that is  up-to-date as any WorkstationApp. The Server-Versions of all the Antivirus Apps are most time at a higher price than the WHS itself and this is a no-go for home-use.

  20. Warren-G says:

    As a philosophical decision, Microsoft should make antivirus software available to ALL Windows users for free. There is no logical divide between a business of 10 users and a business of 20 users. Limiting Security Essentials to 10 business users is completely arbitrary. The core functionality of antivirus protection should be made available as a core function of Windows, available to anyone who chooses to use it.

    In the case of larger businesses, they may require a way to manage the antivirus product in different ways. Now that is the value-added component that should be charged for. That would be the logical divide in determining who should pay versus who should not. It should not be whether or not to provide the basic core functionality of an antivirus product, but rather what value over and above this core functionality can Microsoft provide?

  21. Mr.F. says:

    Its fine for small-businesses – but whats about schools? It would be fine, if MSE will be free for educational use! Is there any way?

  22. Mr. W2K8 Foundation says:

    It would be nice if the number of PCs permitted to use MSE matched the maximum number of clients on Windows 2K8 Foundation Server=15. FDN Server is a very nice solution for small organizations in today's cash-strapped economy. It would sure be nice if they could use MSE on all their PCs, again, limited to 15 by the Foundation Server OS. Furthermore, it would be great if MSE ran on W2K8. A final opinion: I don't think there are too many 15-PC businesses who are going to opt for MS Forefront Security at $2500+ (…/pricing-licensing.aspx) when products like SEP Small Business are going for less than $500 retail for 25 users.

  23. Becky says:

    @mssmallbiz it seems you are the person with the answers, when will I be able to download & use this at my three business locations?

  24. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Bill – MSE is licensed on a per device basis, so once MSE licensing goes live for small businesses, it will be for 10 computers in the small business, regardless if they are PCs, laptops, etc.

  25. David says:

    Would it also be permissible to install MSE on fewer than 10 PCs within a business that has more than 10 PCs total?

  26. FZelle says:

    You are allways talking about small business and up to 10 computer ( not small business with 10 ).

    My company is a little bit bigger, but uses a different AV.

    Just a few SW devs ( 5 ) don't like that AV ( our I7 feel like P4 ) and would like to use MSE.

    So would that be possible with that license?

  27. d3vmax says:


    We have 8 PC's and our time for renewal has come up. Will be def. instailling MSE today when the MSE site updates and let's us know officially that is is aviliable.

    We also have a Windows Server 2003 R2, can we install MSE on that? I read it is not recommended but why is it not recommended? Isn't it another flavour of Windows XP?

  28. mssmallbiz says:

    @d3vmax – I am glad to hear that you will be able to utilize Microsoft Security Essentials in your small business.  As for Windows Server 2003 R2, no, it is very different from Windows XP.  Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to be a desktop solution.  For server products, we'd suggest the Forefront line of solutions.

  29. mssmallbiz says:

    @ David & FZelle – With the change made yesterday, Microsoft Security Essentials is now licensed to be installed on up to 10 PCs in a small business, but no more than that.  If your company is larger than 10 PCs, you may want to consider looking at the ForeFront solutions that we provide.

  30. link says:

    please… link for downloads

  31. mssmallbiz says:

    @ link – I have the download links included in my post above in a few places.  Please give them a try.

  32. mia says:

    [mssmallbiz  8 Oct 2010 6:49 AM

    @ David & FZelle – With the change made yesterday, Microsoft Security Essentials is now licensed to be installed on up to 10 PCs in a small business, but no more than that.  If your company is larger than 10 PCs, you may want to consider looking at the ForeFront solutions that we provide.]

    what does it mean? is that if my company has more than 10 pcs i cannot install on any of them because it is over 10, or i can only install up to 10 pcs; or only  if my company have10 or less pcs is legal to install mse up to 10 pcs??

  33. Rob says:

    If you have a non profit organization e.o School with more than 10 pc's (thin clients) can you still install mse on the server?

  34. mssmallbiz says:

    @ Rob – Regardless of non-profit or not, for server based solutions, the ForeFront family of products would be the way to go since Microsoft Security Essentials is a desktop based solution.