Microsoft Security Essentials is the long-awaited free antivirus software program released by Microsoft. Having a PC without an antivirus program is just asking for trouble, even if a computer is not connected to the internet, there are many ways viruses and other nasties can make it on to you system – via infected USB keys, external drives, DVDs and CDs. While we think a free antivirus program is a great initiative from Microsoft, we can’t help feel that something like this should have been released over a decade ago. In addition, given the litany of security holes in existing Microsoft’s operating systems and other programs that have allowed viruses to spread in the first place, it causes some scepticism that this is the best antivirus program to use.
While it is better to have some protection rather than none, it will be in the real world where Microsoft Security Essentials will face its ultimate test – also keep an look out for security companies running tests using their extensive virus libraries and knowledge.One quibble with the program is the name - it suggests a comprehensive security package - it's not. For example there is no integrated firewall. Microsoft Security Essentials is an antivirus program and there are good long-standing free alternatives such an Avast Home Edition and AVG Free edition. However, Microsoft has tried to make its antivirus software as hassle-free as possible. Initially that does seem to be the case, but only time will tell if it is as low-maintenance as the company's hype suggests. Some things we like about the program are that you don't have to register, renew licenses, update subscriptions or go through any of the pain that companies such as Symantec make you do every year. All you need is a legitimate copy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.
- Note: We do not believe it is wise to install and run more than one antivirus software on a computer (nor does Microsoft or any major antivirus developer). If you do decide to download Microsoft Security Essentials, consider disabling or uninstalling your other antivirus software if it is present (plus make a comprehensive system backup beforehand).
- This is the complete Microsoft Security Essentials installation program and it will download from Microsoft's servers - however you will still need to update Microsoft Security Essentials for crucial signature file and program updates (this can be easily done automatically). However if you choose the manual option, we were a little surprised to see that the program itself is only around 9MB to download but manually downloading the signature/update file will take another 40+MB. You can get a copy of the signature file here.
DOWNLOAD Microsoft Security Essentials (free antivirus software) 1.0