Will Microsoft Security Essentials Take Over the World?
Microsoft recently released Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 4.0, their free antivirus software. And according to a recent market analysis, MSE is on the verge of becoming the number one antivirus product. Find out what's new in the most recent MSE 4.0 release, and if it's the right internet security solution for you...
Microsoft Security Essentials 4.0 is Here
Version 4.0 of Microsoft Security Essentials was released April 24, 2012. (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/security-essentials) MSE 4.0 is a modest improvement upon v2.0 of Microsoft's antivirus, antispyware, and network intrusion detection freeware. (Version 3.0 was never released.) Version 4.0 builds upon the impressive specs of v2.0, which I detailed here in my January 2011 article What's New in MSE2?
The biggest news is "enhanced automatic remediation," according to Microsoft spokespersons. That means MSE 4.0 will now immediately quarantine suspicious files instead of flashing an alert and waiting for user intervention. The user can still review quarantined files and take whatever action seems best in each case. This is good news for most users, who generally don't have a clue when intimidating popups appear, asking for their advice on how to handle a potential threat.
Like earlier versions, MSE 4.0 runs on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 computers. It also sports a more streamlined user interface (one of the program's main appeals to consumers) and improved performance. This version includes "minor bug fixes in set up, malware remediation and other areas," according to the company.
SpyNet, Microsoft's community-powered threats database, has been renamed Microsoft Active Protection Services. (Leave it to Redmond to take the faintest flicker of "cool" out of a product's name.) If you opt in to this feature when installing the software, and MSE later detects a suspicious file on your computer, it will report the details back to the mothership for further analysis. By collecting potential malware samples from untold thousands of users around the world, MSE effectively becomes smarter, and can react to new threats as they arise.
Microsoft says that MSE 4.0 will be pushed out to exising MSE users via Windows Update. It will disable Windows Defender, if that program is installed, because MSE performs Defender's functions in real time. If you don't have MSE installed, or you don't want to wait for the update, you can install it via the link above. If you are running a bootlegged copy of Windows, MSE will scold you and may stop running.
Move Over, AVG...
OPSWAT's most recent quarterly survey of Antivirus marketshare shows that MSE has muscled into second place in North America (pushing AVG down to third), and is fourth worldwide. (See table below.) In both markets, MSE had a very impressive 50% growth in users over the previous year. Given the fact that it's free, and is being promoted by Microsoft, I predict it will continue to gain marketshare, gaining a dominant position within the next two years.
|SYMANTEC CORP.||16.09%||AVAST SOFTWARE||16.26%|
|MICROSOFT CORP.||14.92%||AVIRA GMBH||11.65%|
|AVG TECHNOLOGIES||13.22%||AVG TECHNOLOGIES||10.96%|
|ESET SOFTWARE||7.06%||ESET SOFTWARE||10.06%|
|MCAFEE, INC.||6.76%||SYMANTEC CORP.||9.97%|
|AVIRA GMBH||4.41%||KASPERSKY LABS||7.75%|
|KASPERSKY LABS||4.03%||MCAFEE, INC||4.74%|
|PANDA SOFTWARE||3.49%||PANDA SOFTWARE||3.77%|
|TREND MICRO, INC.||3.10%||TREND MICRO, INC.||2.22%|
Should You Install MSE 4.0?
MSE has been well received since its first release in 2009. It scores well on malware detection and removal tests, uses relatively few system resources, and costs nothing. So what's not to like? Although MSE will meet the needs of most users, it's definitely not the top dog when it comes to malware detection. In my article Which AntiVirus Software is Best?, you'll find links to the AV-TEST antivirus effectiveness reports, and the winners of the 2011 AV-TEST Awards. Because it's new, MSE 4.0 has not yet been tested. But recent MSE 2.x releases, although earning AV-TEST certification, have scored at or near the bottom of the pack.
In addition, some users will choose a commercial internet security suite over a freebie that just handles viruses and spyware. And there's definitely a place for the all-in-one packages like Norton and McAfee that include extras such as spam filtering, advanced firewalls, link scanning, parental controls and other features.
I'm a big fan of free antivirus software, and definitely not a Micsosoft fanboy, but I'll say this. MSE 4.0 is a good product that will continue to get better. As I've said before, it will probably provide adequate protection for most users. But I'm not ready to recommend it as my top pick, until those AV-TEST numbers start looking better. See my article on Free Anti-Virus Programs for a list of other alternatives you can try.
UPDATE: SEE Microsoft Security Essentials: EPIC FAIL
Have you tried MSE 4.0? What antivirus program (free or paid) have you chosen? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 May 2012
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved