Assuming Microsoft's servers survive the demand, this beta, which replaces Microsoft OneCare (which wasn't free), should answer questions about the program's anti-virus and general security viability pretty quickly. It's hard to imagine that that this won't be one of the largest beta tests ever, with plenty of the testers being small and midsized businesses and their employees.
Not that you should leap before you look. Microsoft's evidently deeper, or at least deepening commitment to providing robust security as part of the Windows "experience" -- you don't have to register Security Essentials -- is overdue, and then some. The default platform for most business and consumer computing should, I feel, have security services built in from the get-go.
That's what Essential means, and in today's threat environment nothing is more Essential than security.
Now we -- and the existing security industry -- will find out, again pretty quickly I think, if Microsoft is ready to take on the security challenges that continue to plague it and its customers.
Should be interesting, and clearly Microsoft Security Essentials is worth an early and serious look.
But I'd look at it on a test-bed, and look at it hard there, before I moved my business's protection completely to Microsoft's hands.