Microsoft Release Free Anti-Virus Package

By Craig Buckler
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virusAnti-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

Link: Microsoft Security Essentials website

Have you tried Security Essentials? What did you think? What’s the best anti-virus software you’ve found? Or are they all awful?!

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  • mPeror

    I use Nod32 and it’s so light, I forget it exists on my machine.

  • Me

    Can’t wait when be released new super-power anti-virus called “Anti-Windows”.
    Viruses can’t live without special environment which provide MS for us.

  • “Free” costs a lot of money if it doesn’t work. While “Paid” costs a lot less money when it does work.

  • Mac

    The best anti- virus environment is Mac OSX

  • dmwalk

    I moved from Norton to OneCare for 6 computers about a year ago. The increase in computer speed was unbelievable with OneCare as Norton was a memory hog. After OneCare found some viruses that Norton had missed, I’ve had zero problems with viruses since then. I will be moving to Security Essentials when my OneCare subscriptions expire.

  • Anonymous

    I only use Windows in VM. I’ve used AVG and Avast but both slow my VM dramatically. Have to wait way too long for them.

    MS E so far, seems to be a lot less resource intensive. I hardly notice it.

    For me, it’s a dream. I hardly use Windows (compared to Mac OS) but hate the thought of using it unprotected.


  • I don’t think I’ll change over to MSFT anytime soon. I use Avast! and it’s good enough for me.

  • not sure if this is avai. to coorperate users from license do mention it is for personal/home computor users at the Security Essentials website homepage, but not mention it in its EULA(End User License Agreement).

  • Not available in your country or region
    You appear to be in a country or region where Microsoft Security Essentials is not available. Thank you for your interest in Microsoft Security Essentials.

    Great… just great… I hate it when companies limit (FREE!!!) products by region. I just don’t see why. If it’s for statistics sake, they could just keep the raw IP and time, and analyze it later.

    Oh well, I can still say my opinion on Anti-Virus software I’ve tried in the past and currently. Full disclosure – I work in a PC shop and repair, so I see a lot of computers belonging to other people with various problems and Anti-Virus software.

    In short, Avast is a hog, Norton was a hog, but has improved since 2008, especially on Windows Vista (assuming you have the hardware to run Windows Vista to begin with), especially if you disable Aero. AVG is relatively hoggish (but far from Avast and Norton) with questionable effectiveness.
    NOD32 is extremely light, but is basically not effective – especially its older versions (3-). It’s newer versions (4+) are slightly heavier, but I don’t have enough experience with them to judge effectiveness.
    Avira AntiVir is slightly heavy (less than AVG, heavier than the latest NOD32), and finds everything without a miss (and in fact has some false positives). Its cleaning effectiveness is another matter – I’d say it’s successful in 90% of the times (mostly by deletion, i.e. you either take the file or lose it now), whereas I’d rate Norton at 98% (mostly by quarantine, i.e. prevent now, decide whether to take it back later).

    So, if you have a good enough PC (like me), and can afford Norton (unlike me), I’d say that you do take Norton. Otherwise, Avira AntiVir Personal (a free Anti-Virus, just like MSSE) is the best alternative.

  • My review is now available…
    Microsoft Security Essentials: a Review