The latest in my series of reviews of free 2012 antivirus programs is for Microsoft’s Security Essentials. This free antivirus program has been available for about two years now and thats how long its been since I last looked at it. Back in 2009 I thought it was an excellent security program. Has that changed?
- 1. Free
- 2. Capped CPU usage
- 3. Fairly good detection rate
- 1. It doesn’t have the feature set seen in other free antivirus programs
- 2. Business users are limited to a 10 PC installation maximum
- 3. Scanning time can be quite long
Microsoft Security Essentials is of course provided to you by the same company that likely wrote your operating system. With that in mind, they ought to know what they are doing!
Installation and first impression
Protecting your computer with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a remarkably quick and easy affair. Simply surf over to the appropriate page on the Microsoft site and follow the simple instructions. (You will of course need to ensure that you have a genuine copy of Windows installed because they check!)
The actual program itself is small and downloads very quickly; seconds in my case. After double clicking the install file you can expect to have a completed installation within a minute or so. As soon as the program is installed it will update itself so you don’t need to worry about your protection being out of date.
As you can see in the image above, the interface is very sparse and simple which has both its good points and its bad.
Whilst MSE is a little light on features it does still have a lot to offer, including:
- Antivirus protection
- Windows firewall integration
- Rootkit protection
- Network inspection system
Microsoft Security Essentials has the following system requirements:
- Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7
- 500 Mhz processor & 256 MB RAM for XP / 1000 Mhz processor & 1 GB RAM for Vista and 7
- 200 MB of hard drive space free
- An internet connection
- A genuine copy of your Windows operating system
+ Plus Points
- It doesn’t cost anything
- Scheduled scans cap CPU usage at 50%
- Independent tests show detection rates that are good rather than stellar
- Minus Points
- Its simplicity means that there are less features on offer than in many other free antivirus programs
- Ad hoc scans, at least on my machine, took much longer than any other AV program I’ve looked at this year
- Free only extends to 10 PCs for business users
I guess my overall feeling here is that MSE is simply ok. Some people may like its simplicity whilst others may desire more features (that other free antivirus programs do provide). It works well enough, though sometimes scanning does seem to take much longer than with other alternative programs.
I would imagine it would be a very good choice for someone who uses the internet very infrequently because it would be easy for them to setup but even some other novice users may just want more than what it offers.
Considering the rumours of this being bolted into Windows 8 I do wonder about its long term effectiveness – if the vast majority of the worlds’ computer users are using the same security program then that is going to make one juicy target…
While you are here why not check out my other reviews of the latest security programs: