Print 53 comment(s) - last by jonmcc33.. on Sep 30 at 8:10 PM

Microsoft releases its free antivirus suite

Microsoft first released a public beta of its Security Essentials antivirus suite back in June and it was met with mostly positive reviews. The public beta was only open for the first 75,000 downloaders and that limit was reached rather quickly.

Today, however, Microsoft has released the final version of Security Essentials and anyone running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 can download it for free. Microsoft Security Essentials offers basic antivirus, spyware, and malware protection -- it also offers real-time protection and regularly updated malware signature files via Microsoft's Dynamic Signature Service.

Since Microsoft Security Essentials provides the bare minimum protections for a Windows-based machine, other niceties such as a firewall and multi-PC management are not available. This should appease Microsoft's competitors in the anti-malware software segment.

Those who wish to try out the software can download it directly from the Microsoft Security Essentials website. The download requires that your PC pass Windows Genuine Advantage checks, so only legit Windows users will have access to the software.

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Very nice...
By Fox5 on 9/29/2009 12:27:21 PM , Rating: 5
I've been using the beta, and I've gotta say, this is way superior to any of the free competition. Probably better than most of the paid too.

Much lighter on resource usage, doesn't slow down the system like most AV, and it gets daily updates to its signature files, compared to the once in a while updates free AV gets. I'd say the Microsoft Security Essentials is in many way a superior product to the competition, and probably good enough for most.

In my own ad-hoc testing, it was way better than trend, norton, and mcafee, picking up virii they missed, and being able to remove infections they couldn't. The fact that it can suspend the windows desktop to remove virii without rebooting is a major advantage to microsoft, and probably something its competitors can't do. Seriously, way to go MS for offering a quality AV/malware scanner, I'd be all for this being integrated into windows like Defender was.

RE: Very nice...
By Maxima2k2se on 9/29/2009 12:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
They won't integrate this into windows. Then the other AV products really would sue lol :)

RE: Very nice...
By Mr Perfect on 9/29/2009 1:44:12 PM , Rating: 4
I really wish they could though. I'm floored every time someone brings me a PC to fix and it either has no AV at all , or has the expired 60 day trial version that shipped with it from the OEM.

RE: Very nice...
By void5 on 9/29/2009 1:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
REALLY interesting question: would removing software component from installation media and making it available as additional download (which of course does not support competitors' OS) qualify as "we are not including this feature in Windows" in a court (or for antitrust watchdogs)?

Guess we will find out soon enough.

RE: Very nice...
By bodar on 9/29/2009 2:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
That IS is essentially what the anti-trust officials want with IE, so it's a silly question. If it came pre-installed with Windows, then yes, people would be crying up a storm.

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 3:36:31 PM , Rating: 3
Check AV Comparatives. They run the most thorough testing suite of any AV analysis available on the Internet. Forefront and One Care get average scores and are outclassed by most other scanners. Avast is the best free scanner, AVG has hit-percentages roughly equal with One Care. Granted MSE supposedly uses the same engine as One Care, but until AV Comp. updates their test, that won't be absolutely verified.

Most of the major vendors peddle products of 'baseline' reliability. A lot of the smaller shops hit reliability numbers several grades above anything the big companies put out. Mind you, given that MSE is free, they don't really need to compete. But McAfee's and Symmantec's assertion that their products are "better", are fairly soundly debunked when tested by the third party. Sure they add other features, but the core feature of any AV product is efficacy. I'd rather have a bloated UI on a product that worked than a clean one on one that didn't. Granted I'd rather have a clean one on a working product. I actually switched to Avast because of the results. I'd pick one of the others, but I just don't want a pay product given Avast is good enough, and the first product that supported x64 on a free AV platform.

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 3:40:37 PM , Rating: 3
Granted MSE might hit 99.9% of the common viruses, which is technically all you need to protect a computer. The third parties need to run the test suites to verify how things changed.

Oh, and in medicine there is a term called 'herd immunity'. It also applies to computer science. If you get enough people inoculated against, say the flu, you can't spread it because every person with the flu isn't likely to run into someone else capable of getting it. Computer AV software is the same way. Sure, you can still do some damage, but it's not going to be a big number (relative terms).

RE: Very nice...
By lco45 on 9/30/2009 1:33:31 AM , Rating: 3
Actually you've uncovered the most interesting point.

Herd immunity is going to be the biggest benefit of all. I know many many people who don't run AV, or get a 12 month subscription and don't renew.

Having a free, auto-installed AV like this will greatly increase the percentage of AV coverage in the average community, meaning viruses will die out before reaching unprotected computers.

Macs already take advantage of this, because viruses spread via address contacts, and most contacts in a mac users address book are Windows users, so Mac viruses have trouble spreading.


RE: Very nice...
By lco45 on 9/30/2009 1:36:53 AM , Rating: 1
And before someone says "there are no Mac viruses", the main reason there are so few is exactly the herd immunity enjoyed by Macs as a minority OS in a Windows world.

Virus writers don't bother with Macs because their viruses fizzle out too soon. In other words, herd immunity reduces the reward of writing viruses in the first place, which compounds the benefit to the community.


RE: Very nice...
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 4:49:04 PM , Rating: 1
They run the most thorough testing suite of any AV analysis available on the Internet.

Isn't that the company that requires the AV company to pay to be included in the tests?

Also, isn't it true that they don't even use actual viruses/malware in their testing? It's actually something like a database?

Lastly, isnt it true that they don't disclose what viruses/malware they test for?

Not exactly a reliable resource then...

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 5:38:02 PM , Rating: 2
To the best of my knowledge that might be Virus Bulletin... They're one of those companies that you can publish their "award". They might be fully above board, but there is some advertising on their site.

AV Comparatives is a non-profit organization. Their testing methodology is also published in a 26 page PDF file. They also do the Consumer Reports model of no adverts.

I'd call them the most transparent resource for AV products out there. If they were biased, it would be news to me, since the companies with the most cash are good on some things, but never consistently near the top, across the board.

RE: Very nice...
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 7:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
Ah yes...

Under "Fees", vendors (AV software companies) must pay fees quarterly. Being a profit based company is shady in my book.

Looks like they have updated their document. They have removed a part of the FAQ that asked about details of the malware they tested for. In the past they have said they would not release the names of any of the viruses/malware in their samples. AFAIK it seems as if they still do not.

Good to know that they supposedly test actual samples now as opposed to just testing it against some sort of database. Still unsure of the exact files they test as it is never indicated other than "a few million".

I have never found AV-Comparatives to be a reliable resource and still stand upon that opinion.

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 11:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
Under "Fees", vendors (AV software companies) must pay fees quarterly. Being a profit based company is shady in my book.

The entirety of page 14 is about their policy, which seems to be fairly adequate given that they are a substantial organization with significant costs. Given their stated ethics I'm sure they would prefer to charge for a published report and leave vendors out of it, but unlike a certain popular consumer magazine, they probably couldn't get enough people interested to cover their testing. Their FAQ also recommends numerous other testing centers, so they have no particular ego.

It looks like the Virus Bulletin guys are also well regarded. Doing some research they seem okay. Never felt the need to use them however.

You know, I'm struggling to remember the name of an AV product in the 90s that was hailed as revolutionary, but was ultimately one of the first AV scam products. It had a "drive armor" feature that would literally create a file that would fill every open block of disk space (novel, but obviously pretty crazy). It was from a guy in Israel and was absolutely hammered on USENET (alt.comp.anti-virus) sadly I can't find an archive that dates back far enough so I can find the name. One of the big early researchers, Vesselin Bontchev would write about it, and it was quite funny to read the posts. I'd hate to see him get worked-up at all the "scareware" going around now.

Gosh I feel old.

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 11:40:25 PM , Rating: 2
InVircible. The name just came to me. The software is still around today, but sheesh, the storm it caused on USENET was amusing. The publisher claims it uses "generic technology" that doesn't require updates. That along with the disk armor thing is probably why people went nuts.

RE: Very nice...
By ET on 9/29/2009 4:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
Well said, except that the word "virii" doesn't exist. It's viruses.

RE: Very nice...
By pugster on 9/29/2009 4:42:53 PM , Rating: 2
Remember 10+ years ago that buying a software like an internet browser was free before Microsoft came along? I would not be surprised that software makers like Symantec will no longer be in business making antivirus software as Microsoft makes antivirus software free like Internet browsers.

RE: Very nice...
By ElderTech on 9/29/2009 5:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
Fox5 says:
"Much lighter on resource usage,"

Interestingly, the download for XP is 8.6mb prox while that for Vista/Win7 is 4.3 prox. Code must be written to intergrate more easily with the latter. Glad to hear of your good results.

RE: Very nice...
By ChristopherO on 9/29/2009 6:26:48 PM , Rating: 3
Win Defender is included with Vista/7. MSE uses that scanning engine for malware, so you don't need to download it a second time. XP doesn't include Defender by default.

This is a nice change...
By AEvangel on 9/29/2009 11:57:58 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder how Symantec, ESET, & AVG, will deal with this.

RE: This is a nice change...
By Smilin on 9/29/2009 11:59:05 AM , Rating: 5
Go to the EU and sue.

RE: This is a nice change...
By achintya on 9/29/2009 12:03:27 PM , Rating: 5
Go to the EU and cry.

There. Corrected.

RE: This is a nice change...
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 1:44:39 PM , Rating: 5
Not possible because the AV program is not installed by default. Programs that are available after purchase and installation do not qualify for any lawsuits.

RE: This is a nice change...
By zsdersw on 9/29/2009 2:11:06 PM , Rating: 4
That won't keep them from trying.

RE: This is a nice change...
By Spuke on 9/29/2009 3:28:51 PM , Rating: 3
That won't keep them from crying.

RE: This is a nice change...
By Digimonkey on 9/29/2009 2:22:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm really not sure it matters with the EU. If the other security suite creators can make a case that it hurts their sales, I'm sure the EU would be up for fining MS.

RE: This is a nice change...
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 4:03:28 PM , Rating: 3
The EU has only ridden Microsoft's nads for included applications such as WMP and least AFAIK.

RE: This is a nice change...
By Omega215D on 9/29/2009 9:34:19 PM , Rating: 2
Even the browser ballot thing doesn't appease them. This time it's Mozilla doing the complaining.

RE: This is a nice change...
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 11:22:56 PM , Rating: 1
The EU is pathetic. The only thing I ever use IE for on my computer is to download Firefox. After that it gathers dust. It's like there are a bunch of children over there.

RE: This is a nice change...
By SudeepNP on 9/29/2009 11:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
MS can easily beat their competitors because they are building AV on top of their own OS. It doesn't matter if it's free or not... just don't let MS to make this AV.
Anyway I love free AV.

RE: This is a nice change...
By n00bxqb on 9/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: This is a nice change...
By Donkeyshins on 9/29/2009 12:35:56 PM , Rating: 4
Security Essentials is based on Forefront 2009 - so no worries about being OneCare redux.

What are resource usages?
By Kibbles on 9/29/2009 12:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone installed this on an old PC or a net book? I've been using Avast on my netbook and it seems to be pretty light. How does this compare to Avast? If it's even lighter then I'm willing to change.

RE: What are resource usages?
By Chadder007 on 9/29/2009 1:11:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know how it compares to Avast as well. Ive always liked Avast's resource usage. I switched to them from AVG and haven't looked back.

RE: What are resource usages?
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 1:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'd stick with Avast because it is free as well. IMO the best free AV program available.

If you don't have any AV like Avast installed I would use it. I'd say it's less resource intensive than Avast but I cannot compare protection to Avast TBH.

RE: What are resource usages?
By Etern205 on 9/29/2009 4:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
Avast (free edition) is one of the crappiest AV programs out there and it's a memory hog.
When a threat is detected, unlike other AV where it just shows a popup message, Avast has to go dramatic by adding a radio-active symbol and a nuclear meltdown sound scheme to go along with it.

If a virus cannot be deleted, all it does is just repeat the popup message until you remove the virus maually or to shut the program once and for all is by uninstalling it.

IMHO, Avast (free edition) is useless and there are other free alternatives out there.

RE: What are resource usages?
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 4:59:10 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'm not too concerned about the 40-50MB it might use when I have 4GB RAM installed. I guess if you were running a PIII with 128MB RAM then it is a genuine concern.

The sound can be disabled and I do agree that it is annoying. I wouldn't say that a program is crappy based upon the virus notice that pops up. That's just pathetic and reaching badly.

I have never once been infected since switching to Avast from AVG - which I might add is in fact a crappy AV program from personal experience.

Other free alternatives, sure. Avira is good although it constantly pops up with an advertisement. Other free alternatives such as BitDefender or ClamWin don't offer realtime protection at all.

PC World did a review and found Avast to be quite good actually.

RE: What are resource usages?
By cyriene on 9/30/2009 12:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
I prefer Avira over Avast. With google as your guide you can find a way to disable the popup ;)

RE: What are resource usages?
By jonmcc33 on 9/30/2009 9:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't need to disable any advertising. If a product is free it shouldn't be adware. That's not to take away it's effectiveness at protecting against malware, just pointing it out.

For someone to say that Avast is crap and point out only that it makes a noise and has a huge warning when malware is detected as reasons for it being crap...that's just pathetic. I wouldn't expect an intelligent response back from that person anyway.

But hey, to each his own. Regardless of what anyone says I will keep using Avast because it has never once failed me and it is completely free. If it does fail me though? It will join Norton, Symantec and AVG as virus programs I used and refuse to ever use or recommend ever again.

RE: What are resource usages?
By mcnabney on 9/29/2009 2:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
Just installed on Asus 1000HE. I previously had the trial Norton on it and can clearly announce that this little netbook now feels 'fast'. Not Crysis fast, but definitely not hobbling around on two broken legs fast.

MSE Consumes too much memory!
By alefsin on 9/29/2009 5:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
I just installed MSE on my W7 laptop. I was happy that the "quick scan" was actully very fast. It even found a DOS virus inside a ZIP file from my old DOS games archive...

However, even when it is idle it is consuming too much memory (more than 110MB!!) and that is right after rebooting the machine. I hope this is a bug in the first release and will be fixed rapidly.

RE: MSE Consumes too much memory!
By Etern205 on 9/29/2009 5:55:08 PM , Rating: 2
On XP it idles at 10MB.

RE: MSE Consumes too much memory!
By kmmatney on 9/29/2009 6:32:23 PM , Rating: 2
I have it on XP, and it is currently at 73M of memory usage. However it does fluctuate, and seem to release the memory when needed. On my laptop, the program taking up the most memory, at 106MB, is the Dell Wireless Lan utility program - what the hell...

RE: MSE Consumes too much memory!
By kmmatney on 9/29/2009 6:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I've been using MSE for about 6 months and really like it. It has caught a few viruses that I picked on USB sticks (using other computers) and I have no fear of going to dodgy internet sites.

RE: MSE Consumes too much memory!
By alefsin on 9/29/2009 9:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
MSE runs components includeing a service (MsMgEng.exe) which consumes the most memory. Use ProcessExplorer to see how much memory is used by this service.

RE: MSE Consumes too much memory!
By jonmcc33 on 9/29/2009 11:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
OMG! On a Windows XP VM MsMpEng.exe uses 55MB and msseces.exe uses 7MB! It's such a memory hog! That's about half as much as Firefox with 3 tabs open!

Memory is cheap. Go buy some more...

By damianrobertjones on 9/30/2009 3:27:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well... I had the perfect chance to test this last night.

A neighbour who has only recently purchased a laptop for his daughter (Cue visits to scary music downloads, malicious ringtone pages and iTunes to slow the machine) pops over. Infected. Anti Virus 2010. Ho-hum.

Avast's sitting there doing nothing and so is malwarebytes. Great. Install this and away it goes. As I move around the hard drive aVast finally jumps into 'A virus has been detected'. etc. Thansk for that Avast.

The MS package locates a rootkit and several other viruses and that's only a small fraction through the hard drive.

As far as I'm concerned, none of us should have to pay for this type of protection. We've already spent the damn money on the pc/os and I'm GLAD that MS has decided to release this type of package. We've been bent over for far too long and the amount of machines I've cleaned makes me SICK while the Virus app sits there doing NOTHING. AVG, AVAST.. don't even mention the larger companies.

(Sorry to mention them)Apple has been smug for far too long and if MS changes that situation, I'm all for it. Level the playing field MS and try to protect yourself from 'stupid' people

"Your computer is infected, click here to clean your pc"

RE: Nice
RE: Nice
By jonmcc33 on 9/30/2009 9:35:17 AM , Rating: 2
Wait, you installed two realtime AV programs at once (Avast and MSE)? Who would do that?

In defense of Avast, for me it actually blocked Antivirus 2009 when the advertisement popped up. Now if someone ignores that and proceeds with the install then that is on them.

Interesting though. I will try this out in a VM tonight. Create a snapshot, install Avast and then see if I can find Antivirus 2010. I will see if Avast blocks the pop-up and if I can install it what happens from there.

RE: Nice
By jonmcc33 on 9/30/2009 8:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, I did my best (see post about testing Avast in a VM) and was either unable to get infected even with all my attempts to purposely get infected (keygens, cracks, etc) or Avast blocked connection to websites altogether. Here are 3 that I stumbled upon that Avast blocked.

WARNING: Visit these websites at your own risk.

So sorry, DRJ, I really don't believe your claim that a computer with Avast managed to get infected with Antivirus 2010. It protected me against Antivirus 2009 once from personal experience. So you really have nothing to stand on.

By croc on 9/29/2009 9:28:55 PM , Rating: 5
"The download requires that your PC pass Windows Genuine Advantage checks, so only legit Windows users will have access to the software."

There was much todo being made on MSDN forums that this would be free for all, without restrictions, as even pirated versions of Windows adds to the over-all issue of virii, trojans, spam etc. I thought that was a good idea then, and still think so now.

Thank goodness
By Yawgm0th on 9/29/09, Rating: -1
RE: Thank goodness
By SiliconAddict on 9/29/2009 5:54:49 PM , Rating: 1
*rolls eyes* This is what virus definitions are for. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if MSE is integrated into Windows File Protection.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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