Microsoft is known to take care of its users. Security Essentials is a statement to this, and their upcoming release of Windows 10 will cement their position – I hope we all have gotten past the Vista fiasco. After Bill Gates left his key position in the company, everyone thought that it’s going to be only downhill from then on, but we were pleasantly surprised to see Microsoft tackling new things each year. Sure, the Xbox One, or how I love to call it the Xbone, is a big fail on their part, but you have to give them credit where credit is due. Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows Defender, the free upgrade to Windows 10, Nokia’s buy-out, and how they are pushing Windows Phone – did you know that it’s going to be the universal smartphone for apps? Yeah, you’ll be able to play Android, and iOS ported apps on a Windows Phone; how about the HoloLens? Scale EVERYTHING – even the puppy!
But I digress. Let’s talk about Microsoft’s protection suite.
On November the 18th of 2008, Microsoft started development for a new project code named Moro – please go into wrestling, and have the Microsoft league; Moro is a great name for a fighter. Name him Moro The Unstable and you can base it on Internet Explorer. Anyway, the project was based on how they could make a free consumer cyber security product that could challenge the industry’s behemoths – Norton, Kaspersky, and BitDefender.
It didn’t result in a product that could challenge them, but it ended up as pretty great anti-virus software that can do its job good only if you keep it up to date – alongside Windows and your other software.
It was a turning point in Microsoft’s history. For the first time, they would be offering a free product leaving subscription-based strategies for historians.
In June of 2009 Moro was no more, and its official name was revealed – Microsoft Security Essentials!
After its announcement, it immediately entered a public beta phase available to 75,000 users from The United States, Israel, Brazil, and China. It was anticipated to be released on 20 markets, and in 10 languages by the end of the year.
Version 2.0 was released in 2010 and it brought new features like Network Inspection System, or NIS, and a new feature to anti-malware engine that adopted the heuristic technique in its algorithms. It integrated perfectly with Internet Explorer, but for nothing, because almost no one used IE.
Version 4.0 was released a year and a half later – Microsoft skipped the number 3, for no apparent reason. More users for its public beta phase.
Version 4.5 is the one you can use right now. Also, Microsoft announced that it won’t support Windows XP anymore.
What you need to know is that Security Essentials runs only on Vista, and Windows 7 – it’s designed for older versions of OS; Windows 8, and 8.1 have Windows Defender, and I’m going to talk a little bit about it later on.
The industry’s response was kind of soul-shattering for the devs that worked hard on the new AV. The three behemoths Norton, Kaspersky, and BitDefender, bashed the new AV and claimed it to be inferior to their own software. Jens Meggers, Symantec’s vice president of engineering of Norton products said that ” it is very average – nothing outstanding.”, also Tom Powledge of Symantec warned users to take a better look and find a proper option because Microsoft’s protection is “substandard”, and ” it offers an inferior user experience” – Kaspersky, and BitDefender went on to release official statements on the same lines.
Could it be a horrible alliance meant to destroy new contenders? This reviewer thinks so. When Moro was first announced as a free consumer security product, Symantec and McAfee shares dropped kinda hard – 9.44 and 6.62 percent. That means a lot of lost money to a lot of people you don’t want to mess with, and who will do anything to ruin your new product – as in teaming up and bashing it to smithereens, paying tech reviewers to give it awful ratings, and so on. I’m just speculating over here, and there is no factual truth, but it seems like the evidence is right in front of us, but nobody can grasp it.
It received mixed reviews, with a tendency toward low star ratings.
There was even malware, a trojan horse actually, impersonating the AV, and unfortunately, a whole lot of people installed it instead of the real thing. Going by the name of Security Essentials 2010, the rogue security package installed TrojanDownloader: Win32/Fakeinit. It reappeared later that year even more dangerous – Rogue: Win32/FakePAV or Unknown Win32/Trojanwould infect your system and terminate, prevent to launch, over 150 programs such as Registry Editor, Windows Command Prompt, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome.
Now let’s talk about Windows Defender a little bit, before moving on to the Microsoft Security Essentials Review.
Well Windows Defender, formerly known as Microsoft AntiSpyware, keeps the user protected from unwanted, and pesky malware. The antispyware software is included in Windows 7, and Windows Vista, but when it moved to Windows 8, it brought new features and capabilities and it made the product an anti-virus.
It offers basic protection from unwanted malware and viruses, and it combats them somehow efficiently. It isn’t a top-notch product, and you should definitely get something to pair it with, but if you keep it up to date, along with your other programs, you shouldn’t worry.
Now it’s time for the review. Is it worth having? Or maybe you shouldn’t even bother installing it?
What is Microsoft Security Essentials?
It’s outclassed by everything on the market if you keep your system out-of-date, but if you perform updates constantly, it’s a beast not to be trifled with – a tiny beast with medium-sized claws, but a challenger nonetheless.
The bashing of Microsoft’s new AV was somewhat based on some facts, but it is in no way a substandard product.
The official website says that ” It’s a comprehensive package”, but you should take this with a grain of salt – sure, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t the best one on the market, especially if you need top-notch protection. For the average home user, it’s more than enough.
I tested it on a clean out-of-date PC, and a clean up-to-date PC. The difference is shocking.
Test number 1 ended in tears. I threw at it 100 viruses, malware, spyware, pesky-little-bugs-that-ruin-your-life type of programs, and more than 50 of them got through. 10 of them were neutralized as soon as they started to make trouble, and 40 of them were completely blocked. That’s not something you want to hear.
Test number 2, made on a clean up-to-date PC was better. 22 of them got through, 18 of them were neutralized as soon as they started to make their mark on my system, and the rest of them were completely blocked. It’s okay for a baseline product. Don’t mistake this for good.
A shame actually. It’s one of the most unobtrusive and quiet software I have ever had the pleasure of installing. It sits there in the status bar, minding its own business until it has to say something worthwhile like ” Hey, I just updated the virus definition list, thought you might want to know OxXo.”, or ” Found a pesky little bugger. I destroyed it for you because you mean the world for me.” and then it swiftly gets back to its place – I may have exaggerated the messages, but you get the point.
The four tabs in the main window Home, Update, History, and Settings are super intuitive, and even my tech impaired of father can easily maneuver himself through the app. The Home tab gives the user info about when was the PC’s last scan, and if there were problems met, and how the AV dealt with them – the other tabs speak for themselves.
One really awesome feature that is a divine gift for those who have underpowered rigs is the one that lets you limit the software how much power it can use, in order to save some resources for your daily tasks. You can set the AV to scan when your PC is idle, so it doesn’t meddle with you doing your thing.
Also, you can exclude certain file locations from scans – I don’t know why someone would want to do that, but hey, there’s the option for it.
It may lack the proper capability to save the day, but where it does shine is not giving false positives. And I mean it. It’s perfect when it comes down to scanning legitimate software.
If you keep your system updated, and don’t use it only in offline mode, pay attention to alerts, and pop-ups not only from the antivirus, but also from Java, and Adobe, you should have no problems. Be careful, don’t install fake versions – it’s not because they are unstable, it’s because you’ll be installing malware. I don’t think you want your computer filled with errors.
You can download Microsoft Security Essentials from their official website. Don’t forget that it’s free!
It works well on both Windows versions – 64 bits, and 32 bits; there’s no need to worry here.
If you want to remove, uninstall the software you can do so by going to the Start Menu, typing in add or remove programs, clicking the Add or Remove Programs, searching for Microsoft Security Essentials in the drop-down, double click it, and following the steps to completely remove the software. Uninstalling it isn’t hard, and you should be done with it in a matter of minutes – let’s say 5’ish.
In order for you to use the antivirus, your rig should be barely decent.
- It supports Windows Vista, and Windows 7;
- Minimum CPU – 1 GHz
- Minimum RAM – 1 GB
- Hard Disk Space – 200 MB
If you don’t fancy this antivirus, by comparison, there are a couple of others that could make you happy.
Other Free Antivirus Options!
- Panda Free Antivirus 2015
- BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition 2014
- Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free
- Qihoo 360 Total Security Essential
- Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 11
- Avast Free Antivirus 2015
- AVG AntiVirus Free 2015
- Comodo Antivirus 8
- FortiClient 5.0
I only tested Avast, AVG, and BitDefender – the rest are known to be good, but I wouldn’t bet my life on them.
If you keep an eye out for BitDefender deals, you could get 6 months free for their product with all of their features each month. They should already make it free without typing a code – I already have like 4 years’ worth of free BitDefender. I’m not complaining, but I have to manually go to their website and punch in the code every six months – yes, I’m a lazy human being.