Microsoft Security Essentials beta

You  may have seen that, a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the beta of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE); their free anti-virus/anti-malware software aimed at home users. The beta was limited to 75,000 downloads so I registered within 20 minutes of it going live on MS Connect and got ready to download it…unfortunately the website had a different idea. It told me that I wasn’t eligible to download the beta and that was that-I logged out empty handed 😦

I kept checking over the following days to no avail while, at the same time, Microsoft emailed me to see how my trial was going…I couldn’t believe they were mocking me so! I just logged in now to see if there had been any update on my application for the Office 2010 trial-it’s gone from “Pending” to not being there anymore- but as an unexpected bonus the download for MSE was there 🙂

I’ve just got it installed and had it run it’s first scan and it’s looking good. It was a quick 5/6 click install process and it was scanning already-very impressive…here are some screenshots:

Something I’m quite surprised to see is that MSE contains Real Time Protection, helping protect users from zero-day attacks even without pre-defined virus signatures; for a free product-that’s pretty cool!

The Settings tab allows you to:

  • Set scan schedule
  • Change the default actions
  • Turn Real Time Protection on/off
  • Exclude files & locations
  • Exclude File Types
  • Exclude Processes
  • Choose to scan archive files
  • Choose to scan removable drives
  • Change Microsoft Spynet access

Spynet is something I hadn’t heard of before and it is Microsoft’s Online Community that collects, collates and processes information on malware and how it is affecting user’s machines. There are 2 levels of “membership” availalable, Basic & Advanced where advanced sends back more information such as file names and locations of affected software etc. It’s default setting is Basic…although it does say that “…personal information might unintentionally be sent to Microsoft” which, while I don’t really mind will probably upset some people 😉

I’ve only had it installed for about half an hour but so far, it seenms to be pretty comprehensive in what it covers as well as being clear and easy to use. The fact that it provides real time protection AND scans removable drives as well as the basic cover makes me consider if, honestly, there’s any need for home users to look elsewhere.

Microsoft’s Forefront Business security software shows they’ve got the skills in this area and a lot of other products (Norton, F-Secure etc) are notorious for slowing PC’s down until they’re nigh on unusable-so this seems like a great alternative. When it comes to Anti-Virus I’m a Kaspersky fan but MSE looks to be a worthy competitor…good work once again from Microsoft 🙂

8 Replies to “Microsoft Security Essentials beta”

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