Microsoft's free anti-virus software, called Morro, is at an advanced stage of testing and will arrive 'soon' to the market.
The software giant announced that it would release the free Morro suite back in November 2008, indicating that the antivirus program would arrive in the second half of 2009.
According to Reuters, a Microsoft spokesman told the news agency that internal testing of Morro was underway and that a beta version would be made available to the public 'soon'.
Microsoft's last foray in the anti-malware market was the OneCare service, which was not a commercial success, but the company decided to produce a free version.
The reasoning behind this was sound, with Senior Director Amy Barzdukas saying at the time: "This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware."
Morro – named after a Brazilian beach – will therefore offer a massive slice of competition to paid-for anti virus software producers such as McAfee and Symantec.
Indeed, Microsoft's latest statement pushed shares of Symantex down by 0.5 per cent and McAfees' 1.3 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange.
Despite this, anti-virus software companies remain bullish about the service, insisting that their own software is superior and that there are already free AV programs on the market – like AVG Free.