A year ago, Microsoft released its free anti-malware add-on for Windows, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), a product that now has over 31 million users in 74 different countries around the world. As part of this milestone announcement, Microsoft also noted that MSE would be preinstalled on certain HP laptops going forward, and in October the company will allow very small businesses to use this solution as well. Previously, MSE was licensed only for individuals.

"By making Microsoft Security Essentials easy to get and easy to use, Microsoft hopes to encourage broader adoption of antivirus protection across the consumer audience, which in turn will help increase security across the entire Windows ecosystem," a Microsoft announcement from last year's MSE launch reads. When the product first launched, it was available in 8 languages and 19 countries; today, it's available in 25 languages in 75 countries.

Microsoft also reported that MSE has detected nearly 400 million threats over the past year, with customers choosing to remove over 366 million of those threats from their PCs. And of the 31 million MSE installs, 27 million of those computers have reported infections to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), Microsoft says.

PC giant HP has now preinstalled MSE on its HP ENVY 14 series and the HP ENVY 14 Beats edition series PCs beginning this week, Microsoft noted. And Microsoft previously announced that small businesses with 10 or fewer computers would be licensed to use MSE starting in October.

Why October? My theory is that the second major version of MSE, which is currently in beta, will ship at that time and be tied to the small business availability.

I reviewed MSE a year ago on the SuperSite for Windows and still use the product on all of my PCs and recommend it to all Windows users. You can download MSE from the Microsoft website.