After being criticised time and again for the amount of viruses and malware that affect the Windows operating system, Microsoft has decided to finally do something about it. The Redmond giant is set to make available a free suite of security software today (Tuesday, September 29), and is calling the Security Essentials.
Offering antivirus and anti-malware protection, Security Essentials will be completely free to download either from the Windows Update program or through its official page. And as with all other free antivirus software, it will receive periodic updates to virus definitions via the Internet.
The download is expected to be about 4.7MB in size, and requires the user to have a legitimate copy of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (Beta or RC). It’s as yet unclear whether the launch is going to be worldwide or restricted to a few regions, but all indications are that it should be an international release.
The Security Essentials suite is Microsoft’s new iteration of the Windows Live OneCare paid package, and has been in beta testing for a few months now. Several testers have already reviewed the beta version.
PC World has extensively reviewed the software suite, with Nick Mediati writing: “The Microsoft Security Essentials interface is clear-cut and cleanly designed. You'll likely spend most of your time on the Home tab; ‘set it and forget it’ aptly describes Microsoft Security Essentials. The default settings are appropriate for most users...”
The Security Essentials public beta also took fourth place in PC World’s recent roundup of free antivirus software. Microsoft Security Essentials beta detected 97.8 percent of malware in tests conducted by AV-Test.org, which is decent score compared to other, similar free antivirus tools. Malware scans were a bit on the sluggish side, though, taking longer to scan than a number of competing products.
Reviewer Erik Larkin wrote: "If Microsoft can improve the detection rate a bit – and rev up the scan speed more than a bit – before the program's final release, Security Essentials could turn out to be a real contender in the free antivirus arena."
All in all, if you are someone who uses AVG Free, Avira or Avast, then Microsoft Security Essentials might be a very viable alternative.
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