Microsoft sends word that it is now offering a public beta version of the next Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) product.

Microsoft Security Essentials was first released in September of 2009, and is an award-winning no-cost anti-malware service that provides real-time protection to address the ongoing security needs of genuine Windows PCs, helping to protect them from viruses, spyware and other malicious software.

New features in this beta include:

Windows Firewall integration– Microsoft Security Essentials allows you to turn on or off the Windows Firewall during setup.

Enhanced protection from web-based threats – Microsoft Security Essentials integrates with Internet Explorer to provide improved protection against web-based attacks.

New protection engine – The updated antimalware engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities with better performance.

Network inspection system – Provides enabled functionality to help protect against network-based exploits.

To download the beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials, simply visit the Microsoft Connect site and fill out the beta registration information.  Once you have registered, you’ll find instructions for downloading and installing the beta.

Note that the beta is limited to the US, Israel, and Brazil (Brazilian Portuguese) as was, if I remember correctly, the original MSE beta from last year. A beta version in Simplified Chinese will be made available later this year, Microsoft says.

Also announced today is Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) , the next version of what is now called Forefront Client Security. "FEP 2010 is built on System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 R2, allowing customers to use their existing client management infrastructure to deploy and manage endpoint protection. Customers can download the beta now, and the final product is on track to be available in the fourth quarter of 2010."

You can find out more on the Forefront team blog.