Does Windows have a free security software for Windows 7 Home Edition users?
You need a complete antivirus protection for Windows 7. Install Immunet - http://www.immunet.com/resources/antivirus.html
Microsoft, as a few others have mentioned, offers Windows Defender/Microsoft Security Essentials for free. Other posters have mentioned other brands of antivirus/antimalware solutions because almost any that have been mentioned would offer better protection and capabilities than Microsoft's solutions.
Although AVG is a decent antivirus program, I cannot recommend it due to being resource hungry; why use security software that will slow your system down, and even more so when scanning? Panda Cloud free would be one of the lightest, but most of the other mentioned solutions would work fine without slowing your system very much.
Use Avast's free edition and have a peace of mind.But make sure to avoid any extras while installations.
Microsoft Security Essentials comes with Windows and it works great..or you might give a try to avast free antivirus or AVG free antivirus.. You can also use TechGenie Free Antivirus for your machine
Splash out a few dollers and get yourself BitDefender. You cant go wrong with it.
plenty options have been named already
my personal favorite at this time: Qihoo 360
why it is your favorite, myself never tried it, heard about it. Is it certified by windows or you get a message like do you trust this...? how is memory usage, scan speed...? does it shutdown windows defender during install or you have do it yourself?
I haven't done a benchmark in that but I didn't notice it running, even on a netbook, not during surfing, not while launching or using other applications.
It does integrate with the Windows Security Center and will disable Defender/Security Essentials (Microsoft even signed a deal with Qihoo to cooperate on mobile security).
It has a very good detection rate and is using 3 engines for that: QVM engine (their own heuristic engine), Bitdefender, plus a cloud based detection.
It offers an offline installer for the virus database.
does it scan archive files (rar, zip) or only after extraction?
It does scan archive files but I can't tell you what it's recursive limit is.
At the end of the day it doesn't really matter anyway because a virus within a compressed file is not active and once you open it the real time protection should catch it anyway. If it doesn't detect it at that point even an unlimited recursive scan wouldn't help.
One should always keep in mind that your AV is doing exactly what a user does. It first extracts the contents of the 'zipped' file and then scans it [because compressed code cannot be detected]. So issuing a scan on a compressed file before you open it really is just a waste of (computing) time.
There are plenty of free packages. There are free versions of AVG, Avast, Avira, Panda, Comodo and others, and also Microsoft Security Essentials (which sadly, is not very effective noadays). Most companies that offer free AV software do so for anything from XP to WIndows 8.x in both 32bit and 64 bit versions.
you can use comdo internet security .. it's a complete internet security+Antivirus + firewall. I'm using personally for last 3 years. It's Free.
Microsoft Security Essentials comes from Microsoft and works with Windows 7, but it's not very good - Microsoft has advised using a different program.
I recommend avast! as Hovsep linked to. Avira is another good free solution.
With security software, it doesn't have to come from Microsoft to be good.
I believe your last line could have been phrased better: With security software, to be good it should NOT come from Microsoft.
Very true, Bruce. I just phrased it that way because OP asked if Windows provides one : )
you can try AVAST free edition for home
Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP