Anti-virus software is a necessity for all Windows users. If you believe the scary advertising campaigns, all sorts of nastiness will occur the second you switch on your PC. So why is most anti-virus software badly designed, bloated, overly-complex, and memory-hogging? Do the products make your PC so slow that viruses die of boredom before they can do any damage? The cynic in me thinks commercial operators probably stuff their software full of dross to justify the ludicrously expensive price tags. However, even many of the free products aren’t much better.
I’ll stop ranting now and get to the point. Microsoft have finally released their own security package named Security Essentials. It offers protection against viruses, malware, trojans, rootkits, and other malicious software.
The product is free and can be downloaded by anyone using a genuine copy of Windows from the Security Essentials website. Versions are available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. No registration is required and the software can be installed on any number of PCs without restrictions.
Security Essentials takes over from Windows Live OneCare, a commercial offering that was phased out in June. Although Security Essentials is free, it will not be installed with Windows or provided as an automatic update. That’s probably a wise move: automatic installations could clash with existing anti-virus software. It would also attract unwanted attention form anti-trust regulators, especially in the EU.
The big question: is it any good? My full review is now available — see Microsoft Security Essentials: a Review
Have you tried Security Essentials? What did you think? What’s the best anti-virus software you’ve found? Or are they all awful?!
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.