Microsoft said Thursday it will soon release free antivirus software so people on tight budgets won't skimp on protecting their computers from hackers.
A beta, or test, version of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) will be publicly available for download beginning June 23 in Brazil, Israel and the US. It is to be rolled out in other countries later in the year.
"Cost and performance barriers prevent many consumers from using up-to-date security software to protect their PCs," Microsoft said in a statement.
The US software giant described MSE as "a no-cost anti-malware solution that provides consumers with quality protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits and trojans."
The technology firm said that effective anti-virus protection is a "must-have" for computer users given increases in the number and severity of attacks by cyber criminals using malicious software to infect machines.
Paying to buy and routinely update computer security software "does not meet the needs of many consumers," including those in emerging markets where money and resources are scarce, according to Microsoft.