Microsoft has created an anti-virus pogramme for free download: Microsoft Security Essentials.

Along with virus protection, the programme also works to keep other cyber threats from ever accessing a computer, such as spyware and Trojan horses. Downloads are available at www.microsoft.com.

Registration is not necessary.

German computer magazine c’t reviewed an advance copy of the programme. “It looks like this programme offers good basic protection,” said the magazine’s Daniel Bachfeld. A final say depended upon the performance of the version ultimately released.

This is not the world’s first free anti-virus programme. AVG Anti-Virus and AntiVir from Avira are already available. Bachfeld says AVG’s programmes also warn users away from suspicious websites.

But not every function offered by an anti-virus programme is actually needed. For example, most contemporary browsers already block phishing sites.