Microsoft Security Essentials: Thoughts on AV

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is available to everyone and it’s getting very favourable reviews from most people. The only nay-sayers so far seem to be the dedicated AV companies such as Symantec.

I’m not going to bother analysing the comments as it’s pretty obvious that most AV companies will say:

a) It’s rubbish


b) We don’t care because ours is so much better

and I’ve got an older post about how good I find it to be.

I think Microsoft’s introduction of a very good, easy to use, free anti-malware solution is a blessing and a breath of fresh air for home users. Just like the corporate market, there are now:

  • Too many manufacturers
  • Too many products
  • Too many features in each one

The number of machines I’ve seen that have at least 2 overlapping programs installed is pretty high. This is usually down to all the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) causing people to panic a little bit and over-protect themselves…this often causes the machine to run poorly.

Then you have the the sheer number of vendors-who all say their product is the best:

  • Symantec/Norton
  • Panda
  • Eset
  • Kaspersky
  • AVG
  • Bullguard
  • Avast
  • F-Secure

and that’s not all of them. Yes-you could argue that Microsoft have made this worse by offering a real contender but I don’t think that is the case…I think it will streamline this situation of over-choice. Microsoft is obviously a well respected brand and so many people will choose MSE because they’re familiar with the name. As it’s all free-it can’t really be anti-competitive really can it? All it can be is easier and better for the average home user…and that should be everyone’s focus in the world of consumer security.

I’m pretty sure that non-web savvy people searching the internet for “free anti-Virus” often leads to them downloading the opposite-a package full of bloatware, trojans, key loggers and more. However, people going to:

will stop all that.

The idea that people having a manufacturer’s free product at home leads to them purchasing that vendor’s corporate offering at work isn’t particularly true, in my opinion. I speak to a lot of customers who run AVG at home…but none of them use AVG at work-they go with Symantec, Mcafee, Microsoft etc. I’ve also spoken to people who, after using Norton at home (usually as bloatware on a new machine) have removed Symantec from the workplace due to the bad experience!

All in all, I see this making it easier & safer for everyone involved 🙂

Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), Microsoft’s free home user anti-malware tool, was today released in all it’s final glory to the world at large.

I’ve been running the beta for a few months now and I find it to be brilliant…it’s easy to install, easy to use, un-obtrusive and hasn’t let any nasties through (touch wood!). I was a Kaspersky user previously but I started to have some issues with the Windows 7 RC so MSE came along at just the right time 🙂 I’d definitely recommend that you give it a go, so download it from:

For more in-depth info and screenshots-see my July post here.

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 🙂

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