McAfee has released a beta version of its new anti-virus software, code-named Falcon.

The beta release comes just weeks after McAfee announced the product, which it is billing as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare and Symantec's upcoming Norton 360.

With Falcon, McAfee has redesigned two of its existing products - VirusScan and Internet Security Suite - and is introducing two offerings: PC Protection Plus and Total Protection. The products, which are expected to ship by September, all include a new user interface as well as the SiteAdvisor website-rating software that McAfee acquired earlier this year.

On Friday, the security vendor released beta code for two of these four suites: VirusScan Plus - the entry-level consumer product - and Total Protection, its most feature-rich security software.

With OneCare now on retail shelves, traditional anti-virus companies like McAfee are scrambling to come up with products that will keep them one step ahead of their new competitor. Microsoft has shaken things up in the consumer security space by throwing PC tuning and backup software into OneCare and by including three user licences with each copy sold.

Like OneCare, McAfee Total Protection includes backup and restore, as well as the tuning capabilities. VirusScan Plus does not perform backup and restore, but PC Protection Plus is being designed for VirusScan users who want a basic security product with that feature.

The fourth Falcon product, an updated version of McAfee's Internet Security Suite, will have all of the advanced features of Total Protection, save one: a wireless security capability.

These products will range in price from US$39.99 for the entry-level McAfee VirusScan Plus product, up to $99 for a multi-user version of McAfee Total Protection. Like Microsoft, McAfee also plans to offer a single license for up to three users, a configuration that is designed to simplify home office licence management.

McAfee has no plans to release beta versions of PC Protection Plus and Internet Security Suite, the company said Friday.