Throughout Microsoft’s years of developing for Windows, they have released several products to improve security in the operating system including a simple firewall that prevented inbound attacks from outside hackers and a spyware / malware detection application.
Microsoft also did a brief foray into a full security and utility suite last year. This all-in-one suite available for purchase was called Windows Live One Care. In the summer of 2009, they decided to shelve it. Windows Live One Care was no more!
The reason Microsoft put One Care out to pasture is it was working on a brand new product to coincide closely with the release of Windows 7, called Microsoft Security Essentials. I have been running it on my home computer systems and I must say, I am pleased. It is one of the most unobtrusive, non-bloated, antivirus and anti-malware protection suite I’ve seen thus far…and that is saying something for Microsoft! And…IT’S FREELY AVAILABLE!
The software was released in beta in June of this year, and just recently released to the public at the end of September.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “you get what you pay for, Windows has traditionally been insecure and Microsoft has to patch quite a bit, why should I trust Microsoft with antivirus protection?”
Well, independent tests run by AV-Test.org indicated its virus detection was among the best, and malware / spyware detection was very good (detected 98.4% of spyware thrown at it).
That being said, this is a simple, paired down low cost security suite. You cannot just run this software and expect no virus or malware to ever get through because this can still happen if you do not exercise sound judgment, common sense, and follow these tips:
- Do not open attachments and emails from people you do not know
- Do not ever provide financial / personally identifiable information about yourself over email solicitations
- Run an alternative browser other than Internet Explorer that can block scripting by default (scripting is what malware / spyware writers utilize on web pages to attempt infecting your computer)
Overall, I would highly recommend running Microsoft Security Essentials as the security suite on your computer. While it does not have all the bells and whistles of a Norton or McAfee suite, that is also its strength as these vendors security suites have become quite bloated and slow!
Microsoft Security Essentials:
Capable of running on Windows XP, Vista, & Windows 7