Free Security Suite for Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials

Stefan Neagu 08-07-2009

So let’s talk about the essentials. An incredibly small installer, clocking in at 5-7 MB depending on the platform, it gives you anti-virus and anti-malware functions, free updates, scan scheduling, all wrapped into an incredibly simple, elegant user interface, that even a 5 year old could manage to use.


The interface is separated into 4 tabs:

    1. Home assesses the current safety level by monitoring the real-time protection and updates. On the right, the Scan Now button lets you sweep the computer with a manual scan – either Quick, which only looks at a small number of critical system files and known malware locations, Full which scans every file and Custom which let’s you chose the location.
      Free Security Suite for Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials image

  1. Update displays information about the signature database: date of creation and version number. The button on the right labeled “˜Update’ will start the automatic update process. No further input is required from the user.Free Security Suite for Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials image1
  2. History presents potentially dangerous applications that were either detected, quarantined or manually allowed by the user.
  3. Settings will allow you to change various parameters of the application such as default actions, excluded file types and real time scanner options.Free Security Suite for Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials image2

Detection rates are on par with OneCare, the now discontinued for-pay security application also developed by Microsoft.

In a Windows 7 virtual machine, MSE detected 17 out of the 23 malware/viruses, preventing their installation. Rootkits and keyloggers scored the poorest marks with 2/5 and 1/4 recognized.

Performance is comparable to other modern security suites, with 40MB of memory used when idle. An additional 3MB is taken when opening the user interface. The full system scan appears to take longer than other products, finishing a 120GB hard drive in 1 hour 32 minutes for a SATA 1.1 hard drive spinning at 5200RPM.


Overall, I noticed a visible increase in the system’s speed when compared to Kaspersky’s Anti-Virus.

Free Security Suite for Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials image3

Microsoft Security Essentials is currently in beta. The downloads were limited to 75 000 copies – but it is mirrored on many websites and does not require a license key or registration. It does however check to see if the copy of Windows is legitimate.

There’s nothing wrong with the application itself, the concept behind it screams “˜paradox’. It’s created by the same people that made Windows. Releasing a security product is essentially admitting that the operating system you market as “˜the safest’ – is flawed to start with. Otherwise how can you justify its creation? Like O.J. Simpson giving a signed confession.


Secondly, it’s going to kill revenues for all the other security companies like Symantec and Kaspersky from the home and small business users segment. If the European Commission was worried about Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, how do you think it will react to this, especially if retailers or even Microsoft bundles it with new computers? I can already imagine the headlines: “Microsoft fined $100 million for making Windows secure”. Coupled with a responsible behavior and Windows Defender, Microsoft Security Essentials is the way to go, especially for people on a tighter budget.

What do you think about Microsoft Security Essentials? Do you think it’s a threat for other security companies? Are you ready to ditch your for-pay Antivirus?

Talking about security, you might want to read 10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons 10 Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons Read More , 10 Free Online Malware and Virus Scanners 10 Free Online Malware and Virus Scanners Read More or articles related to Microsoft or security.

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Microsoft.

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  1. Vicky
    December 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Personally, I have issues with the free virus/malware protection. The continuously bug me to get the paid versions. I also suspect them of messing with my computer to make it seem like I have issues that may require a paid version. They aren't what the used to be, in my opinion. Oh, and not that I'm using a paid version, I just deal with their BS.

  2. niga
    January 12, 2015 at 1:26 am

    this shit doesn`t prevent Your PC! Still leave Avast & Malwarebytes that increase my PC protection up to 50%..

  3. J Parr
    August 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    I don't think much of mozilla's new 3.5 browser, any time I leave my computer idle the browser stops working and when I try restarting the browser it never works, it becomes necessary to restart my computer every time. But it makes me wonder if Windows Vista isn't causing this to happen.
    I also agree with the comment on Zone Alarm, it is a very usefull firewall.

  4. shraqs
    August 7, 2009 at 2:17 am

    I've been using it for a while now. And I give it 4/5 star, smooth and light.

    July 11, 2009 at 6:23 am

    good news tat microsoft is offering an antivirus to protect our computers. i hope we don't need to download or buy other antivirus.

  6. AAB
    July 9, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    guys this program is no good. i've tested it on Win xp sp3
    missed up the computer, blocked the Messenger for no obvious reason and it's not free in the end.

    I recommend Avira 2009 free edition as an Anti-virus

    Zone Alarm also free edition as a firewall

    Finally, use firefox with NOSCRIPT(add-on) to block
    the worms and spy-wares from getting in in the first place

  7. Buffet
    July 9, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Microsoft's offerings are always less than stellar, i.e. JUNK. This rubbish surely won't be any different. The only real virus protection that works is NOD32.

  8. Robert Ramirez
    July 8, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    installed this on Windows 7 64 ultimate rc
    running smooth right now

  9. Mango the Fruitarian
    July 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Do I really need to use both spybot and spyware-terminator?

    • Hiqutipie
      July 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

      Thats exactly what live Onecare does...I use to have norton & tried the others until I found onecare...It is lightweight & smooth on my pc and works in the background with no interference as a manager and does maintenance as well & does it all very well & besides being an Antivirus it is also the antispyware program so I have never needed extra programs, its everything all in one & when Security Essentials takes over it will maintain the same security...
      Onecare has a 90 day free trial...

      No you don't need both...Especially spybot search & destroy...Lavasoft Adaware & malwarebytes are both better to run with avg or comodo...Both light weight & the reason to carry 2 spywares is to back each other up...

      You may also like to grab Revo uninstaller...cleans everything & easy to use & understand...

      • Mango the Fruitarian
        July 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm

        yes, well, there's the rub.. a 90 day free trial.. i am not after something to pay for, i am after 100% free, so maybe onecare is good, but i'm not willing to pay for it, so not interested in no 3 months trail either.. besides does it do a firewall too??

        i've recently installed revo uninstaller.. excellent program.

        as for the spyware, you recommend i uninstall spybot and spywareterminator in favour of adaware & malwarebytes? (both adaware and malwarebytes, or just one of them?).


        • Hiqutipie
          July 9, 2009 at 7:08 am

          Onecare will be replaced in like October by Essentials by the end of the trial in the mean time it will clean up your system & it has a built in firewall...It is fast & light on the pc...

          If you don't install onecare I would uninstall the other spyware for one or both of the others...doesn't really matter...both are lighter & better...

          I would also advise you to get Google Chrome...Fastest Browser...Your a blogger... you must be using Firefox on XP...

        • Mango the Fruitarian
          July 9, 2009 at 11:59 pm

          I've decided to stick with comodo for firewall and av, keep spybot, ditch spywareblaster and spyware terminator, and install malwarebytes.. after a little search i decided against adaware, which i used to use, as it is still overly bloated and takes up too much space/resources.. onecare i am getting mixed reviews about and see it will be replaced soon by a free version called morro, which i may try at a future date, but not now..

          i use google chrome. it is fast, but i'm afraid for blogging you can't beat flock and scribefire extension.. (of course, Noscript, Wot, and adblock to name but 3 of the better security orientated addons.. the sort of thing that chrome can't do yet)..


  10. Mango the Fruitarian
    July 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    I've used the free version of Grisofts AVG for a long time and been happy with it, but recently switched to Comodos Free anti-virus. I did this as I was already using their firewall, and figured that having them do both antivirus and firewall would take up less resources than having 2 different vendors handle each issue..

    Now what I'd like to see is some 100% free fully functioning application that handles antivirus, antispware, antimalware, trojans etc and firewall.. So I can get rid of spybot and spywareterminator too, and just have one app that controls it all..

    also, what i'd like to see is MUO do a good comparison review of all the different free progs that handle this stuff..

    My computers too slow and i'd like the speediest safest solution.

    Mango the Fruitarian.

  11. Hiqutipie
    July 8, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I already have Live OneCare which its suppose to replace which I am sorry to say...I don't believe anything has been better then Onecare...So I do believe that MS sees the future of security & maintenance being built into browsers and security apps and they are going to set the standards for the others to follow & those standards are going to be high...

    The problem MS has always had with the public is the Perception that MS has always been about the money 1st and therefore regardless of how good an app may be like Onecare for instance, they weren't going to get un-biased opinions or consideration...So if they start acting like Google and developing great Apps and putting them out there for free they are going to draw a lot of attention & consideration, something they should have done a long time ago, become Family Oriented rather then Corporate Driven...Is that called Social Rehab...

  12. LogicalValidity
    July 8, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    the statement "Releasing a security product is essentially admitting that the operating system you market as ‘the safest’ – is flawed to start with." is moronic, No, i'm not affiliated with MS in any way, and no, i'm not a fanboy, but supposs that windows IS the most secure OS there is? How does that contradict having an AV for it? You, an it, of all people, should realize that PCs CAN'T be 100% secure. Every time you come our with a patch/security fix/etc, 'they' just make better malware.

    Back to the topic, If MSE is any good, I think it will be a great thing to include it with windows. The world definitely needs more secure, and faster AVs.

    • Stefan Neagu
      July 8, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Ahh... The fresh smell of hate comments in the morning... To put it simply, it's like having 4 engines on a car just because you think they might fail, then market the car 'with bullet proof engine construction'.

      • laurent michel
        July 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

        I would say that a more adequate example is that you put four engines in the car and then say that 'the car has the safest engine system in the industry'. It is just another method by which the company ensures security.

      • LogicalValidity
        July 8, 2009 at 2:32 pm

        Sorry if it looks like a 'hate comment', not meant to be that, it's just that biased articles and such rub the the wrong way.

    • Simon
      July 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

      It would be like Apple calling Mac OSX the safest and most secure operating system and then releasing an antivirus program for it. It goes against what they say. If Windows was truly the safest OS, there would be no viruses and no need for antiviruses.

      • Mango the Fruitarian
        July 8, 2009 at 11:54 pm

        I think your logic is failing there. I'm not arguing at all that windows is by any means safe but even so, just because an operating system might theoretically be the safest, that doesn't mean that virus's could not possibly be present in it, and it doesn't mean that safer still may not be possible in the future..

  13. Gene Thomas
    July 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    So it sounds pretty good, but whats wrong with AVAST, which I am now using and have no reason believe it isn't just as good, or even better?

    • Stefan Neagu
      July 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

      There's nothing wrong with it. I would bet that MSE has better integration with the OS and better performance though.