Microsoft has released a free antivirus called Microsoft Security Essentials which is aimed primarily at emerging markets and it promises a basic protection and a simple interface. Microsoft Security Essentials is the replacement of Windows Live OneCare, which was paid. A transition for free of use which also means that less functionality for a solution to fight in real time against viruses, spyware, trojans and rootkits. This loss of functionality is the mockery of publishers who market competitive solutions.
MSE will be offered for Windows XP 32-bit, Windows Vista and Windows 7 32-bit and also Windows Vista and Windows 7 in 64 bits. The output of MSE should be concurrent with the release of Windows 7. Microsoft is usually targeting especially its free solution with the country’s emerging economy. When Microsoft has launched in the antivirus battle with Windows Live OneCare, no one doubted that the Redmond company would abandon its product from two years later. The result suggested a concept of originality: protect both the PC from threats and degradation of its performance. It seems that OneCare has never really found its place, while most security software have embarked on this type of result "while a" more successfully, including Symantec Norton 360. However, if Microsoft has abandoned its business after it was to announce the release of a free antivirus based on the engine of OneCare. It speaks about the purpose of the software, namely to cover the bases with an "essential" that does not compete with a Norton or Kaspersky, but the free versions of Avast, AVG or Antivir and also the Panda Antivirus Cloud.
It is too early to comment on the performance of Microsoft Security Essentials, although it is sufficiently advanced and it focuses on the interface and functionality offered by Microsoft Antivirus. The limitations of Microsoft does not seem very restrictive as it seems that many users could download it from anywhere, and install it, subject to the availability of an authentic version of Windows, here what we did in our test.
Before detailing the installation of software, it should be noted that the beta version of Microsoft Security Essentials was limited initially to 750,00 downloads. At the time of this writing, it is impossible to download the software from the Microsoft site.
Installing Microsoft Security Essentials is short, simple, and requires no reboot, just like Norton Antivirus, which is very significant. The only constraint is the need to own an authentic version of Windows and which is activated genuinely. For software designed especially for emerging markets, Microsoft wants to protect it more, this decision may seem surprising since, without hiding our faces, it seems clear that if the majority of users of the countries lack the means of buying a security suite, who cannot afford their licensed Windows.
Microsoft Security Essentials: around the interface
A glance at the interface of Microsoft Security Essentials is enough to realize that the editor has obviously chosen to emphasize the simplicity of use. The main windows program is divided into four tabs. Home offers antivirus like any self-respecting or an overview of the security level indicated by color (green, yellow or red) and allows one-click access to a complete analysis, rapid or customized system. The Update section includes logical functionality upgrade software. The History tab provides access to the quarantine area while the Settings tab contains configuration options.
Microsoft Security Essentials: What protection for the user?
Compared to its predecessor Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft Security Essentials offers less protection. The security suite from Microsoft was in fact proposed at a very aggressive price but offered features that resembled more like a result of "total protection" as Norton 360 or GData TotalCare.
Security Essentials is a clean slate, but given the software for free, not really in the sense all the features of the "result" type disappear altogether in favor of a more basic approach. What’s there in Microsoft Security Essentials? Not much more than the competitors such as Avast Home, AVG or Antivir. The software thus provides antivirus and antispyware protection based on a resident shield and an engine of demand scan. If you do not necessarily lament the lack of optimization features or parental controls, the disappearance of the firewall is regrettable. While users of Windows Vista or Windows 7 already have a firewall which is built relatively correct. However, the software is also compatible with Windows XP, the firewall and the latter being what it is, to say frankly perfect, it will be necessary to add such protection.
The first level of protection offered by Microsoft Security Essentials is a resident shield protection in real time. This supports the major types of threats such as viruses (broadly defined), spyware or Trojans. The resident protection is enabled by default and it should be noted, unlike many competitors, that MSE does not provide an option to disable from the menu. Tested with several adware and Trojans, the shield seems pretty quick to react, whether to open a folder with infected files, copy them or extract them from a Zip archive. Tested on malicious active sites, Security Essentials also showed reactive, including preventing the automatic installation of a Trojan horse, and successfully blocking the download of an executable disguised as a codec on a "fake" YouTube, and several fake antivirus, the famous "rogues".
In contrast, a virus that we boast as little intrusiveness, we will regret in the detection of a threat that the software always asks to confirm its deletion. It is nevertheless possible, since the options to configure the actions to be undertaken, according to different severity levels (Low, Medium, High and Severe). Finally we note the presence of a heuristic module that analyzes the behavior of applications running, as well as protection against rootkits.
At demand protection, Microsoft Security Essentials is still pretty basic but functionality equivalent to what we are facing: the software allows for three types of analysis. The quick analysis scans the most dangerous areas of the system, while the full analysis reviewed all of the workstation and the registry. Finally, a personalized analysis allows the scanner or folders of your choice. The software offers several scanning options: you can include the analysis of archives, and the removable devices such as USB sticks. It may nevertheless be surprising that the analysis of these is confined to the "Full Scan" and that more is disabled by default.
The analysis we have published is fast enough and the module awaits the end of them to do the cleaning. Note also to welcome the opportunity to download the latest signature updates to perform analysis and conduct tests only during periods of inactivity of the computer so as not to impact the system resources. Scans can be scheduled, and updates are available via Windows Update. The updated signatures are published 3 times per day, which may seem small compared to some commercial antivirus software such as Norton Antivirus, but let’s not forget that there are still few updates available daily. The software engine will be updated once a month.
Microsoft Security Essentials: What about performance?
The performance of the software were compared with current versions of AntiVir, Avast and AVG free versions. To test the effectiveness of Microsoft Security Essentials, we have submitted 10,248 threats to a database including viruses, worms, Trojans or adware. The scan demand is obviously far from being the sole criterion of effectiveness of an antivirus. Today, virtually all products available on the market has a detection rate than enough on known threats.
On a base of 10,248 threats analyzed after applying the latest updates to the Microsoft Security Essentials software, it detects and removes 9885 threats. The score is significantly lower than Avast Home 4.8, but exceeds Antivir 9.0 (9744) and AVG 8.5 (9691). The performance of Microsoft Security Essentials therefore seem quite decent on this point.
The first impression of this product is certainly minimalist in its features, but easy to use, stable and seems to be relatively effective. We may curse on small details, but overall Microsoft Security Essentials seems to be a more effective product and may very well find its target for a virus that seeks effective and simple administration.
Although it is still early to give an opinion on the performance of the software, all is not good because we also noted for example that the memory usage is quite high compared to some competitors, such as free ones. MSE of course is simple and effective compared to the latter, one hopes it generates fewer false alarms, but Security Essentials is distinguished not by its functionality, or by technologies that come out a bit in an unconventional way, as the approach in some other software. Of course, that it poses the problem of protecting offline, but it also ensures greater responsiveness on the signatures.