Microsoft recently launched a new free anti-virus product – Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) which scans for malware and provides real-time protection for Windows OS. Its free to use for anyone with Genuine Windows Operating Systems. Its an improved version of One Care, the antivirus from Microsoft that didn’t get a good response from users. However, MSE is based on Microsoft’s Enterprise Protection Software which has a good reputation, thus improving its ability to detect malware on your computer.

Microsoft Security Essentials Main Screen(0)

Security Essentials is quick to download and install. The setup is about 8 MB and takes 5 minutes to install. After installation, it takes another 5-10 minutes for the latest updates to be downloaded and another 20 minutes for the initial scan.

Microsoft Security Essentials Scan(0)

Compared to most other free antivirus software like AVG Free, Avast, and Avira – MSE runs smoothly in the background, consuming less memory than any other antivirus software. You can start the scan and forget about it while continuing your work.

Before installing, MSE mentions that we should remove any other antivirus software from the system to avoid conflict. I installed it alongside AVG Free and it works quite well. Now, you can have protection of two anti-virus software. Hopefully if one of them misses a threat, the other would detect it. Although I am not sure, if installing multiple anti-virus software on their computers would work for everyone.

Security Essentials Performance and Detection Rate:

USB Scan

MSE also scans any external drive attached to the computer, in real time. It immediately detected a test worm that I had placed in my USB Drive and cleaned it up.

Scan Sucess(0)

Although MSE was launched a couple of days ago, I was waiting for the Test results from AV-Test.org, which conducts independent tests on protection software, to come out so that I can outline its performance. As I expected Security Essentials came out with a great score and a detection rate of 98.44 %. Now that’s a really good performance for a first-time software. Microsoft has certainly brought fore an excellent product.

The folks from AV-Test.org had this to say:

Microsoft Security Essentials coped reasonably well against a larger set of malware, as AV-Test.org reports.

We continued testing the detection rates of Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP. For this, we used our set of 545,034 current malware samples, including viruses, worms, backdoors, bots and trojan horses. MSSE was able to detect 536,535 samples what’s a very good detection score of 98.44 per cent.

In case of the ad-/spyware testset, MSSE detected 12,935 out of 14,222 samples what’s a detection score of 90.95 per cent. We found no false positives during our scan of 600,000 known clean files from Windows, Office and other common applications (as the majority of these files are from Microsoft, everything else would be a big surprise).

So far so good – but in tests on dynamic malware detection, Security Essentials came up short.

We have then tested the dynamic (behavior-based) detection with a few recently released malware samples which are not yet detected by heuristics, signatures or the “in the cloud” features. We found no effective “dynamic detection” features in place. None of the samples were detected based on their (suspicious) behavior. However, other AV-only offerings doesn’t include dynamic detection features either, in most cases they are only available in the Internet Security Suites editions of the products.

Detection and cleaning of already infected Windows PCs worked but AV-Test.org noted that in many cases, “traces of the infection were left behind (eg some inactive executable files, empty ‘Run’ entries in the Registry, the Windows firewall remains disabled, the ‘hosts’ file remains modified”.

One of the best parts is that being a part of Microsoft, there were no False Positives for the Windows system files. This is very important as any system file is quarantined, would cause a havoc on your computer.

Configuration Options for Microsoft Security Essentials:

MSE provides many configuration options to suit your needs. You can schedule your scans and decide if the scan should run if the computer is busy.

Scheduled Scan Options(0)

In the real-time protection options, you can enable scanning of all downloaded files and all computer activity.

Real Time Protection options(0)

In advanced options, you can specify options regarding creation of Restore points and External Device scanning.

Advanced Options for Security Essentials(0)

All in all Microsoft Security Essentials does a tidy job of keeping your computer clean and protecting it from both viruses and malware. MSE can keep your computer secure, without consuming too much memory, keeping it safe in real time, with excellent detection rate and daily updates.