Free antivirus, antispyware software often fails to protect computer systems adequately because the required virus definitions constantly need to be updated. That takes manpower to keep on top of it all, so free solutions usually don’t have the budget and hired staff to do the job. But now there is no real reason for users to lack the protection that security software affords.
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is free antivirus, antispyware software created by Microsoft that provides protection against viruses, spyware, rootkits, and trojans for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. MSE has been tailored for home and personal use and replaces Windows Live OneCare (a paid antivirus subscription) and Windows Defender.
Symantec and McAfee, are claiming that MSE is not as effective as their own offerings and AVG Technologies views MSE positively, explaining that it reinforces the company's model of free antivirus software.
Public reaction has been mostly positive and reviews praise its simple, well laid-out interface, modest resource utilization, and Freeware license . (* See Video)
Hardware requirements depend on the Windows OS version:
Windows XP requires a processor speed of 500 MHz and higher. 1 GB of RAM is the minimum required.
Windows Vista and 7 both need a 1 gigahertz CPU and 1 GB of RAM.
All systems need a VGA screen resolution of 800 × 600 or better, 140 MB of free space, and an Internet connection.
MSE is designed for consumers and is based upon the Forefront Client Security desktop agent but lacks that product’s centralized management features.
It’s built upon the same security engine (known as "Microsoft Malware Protection Engine", or MSMPENG ), and virus definitions that all Microsoft antimalware products share.
Prior to installing, MSE searches for a valid copy of the Windows operating system. No doubt many users that are running illegal copies of the OS will be disappointed. Registration and personal information are not necessary and will not be asked for when running the setup.
By default, the program disables Windows Defender, since MSE already contains defenses against malware and is not limited to just spyware and adware.
Definitions are updated 3 times a day to Microsoft Update.
Archived files such as Zip and Rar files are decompressed, and then scanned using default settings
Downloaded files and e-mail attachments are scanned as well.
MSE’s Dynamic Signature Service tries to more accurately identify malware by searching for updates if a program displays suspicious behavior.
Prior to acting against a suspicious file, MSE will prompt for user input. If no reaction is received within 10 minutes, then the malware is acted upon based upon to its default action.
System Restore points are saved before removing any malware so that if a mistake was made, you can recover the deleted file.
Free antivirus, antispyware software has often been lacking in the past. This was due to loose ends in the updating of definitions that left holes in the protection of a computer system.
I have not been a fan of Microsoft security products in the past, but I think that Microsoft has finally hit a home run with MSE. The software is fast, easy and intuitive to operate and the emphasis on using small system resources, makes it much better than it’s better known competitors. The fact that it’s Windows 7 compatible also means that new computer owners this year will not necessarily have to spend extra to get quality protection. And users of XP and Vista won’t be left out either.
While no protection software should be relied upon, Microsoft Security Essentials offers a great free option for users looking to protect against themselves against Internet threats. Microsoft is off to a good start with MSE, so let’s hope that they keep improving it so that we can all enjoy more freedom while surfing the Net.