Generally this is very good advice *except* for when one has a need to see what outgoing connections are being made with your machine. The built-in Windows firewall can block incoming connections with the best of them, but there's no mechanism to interactively allow and block outgoing connections. Most people don't need or even care about this functionality, though.
Indeed, and I haven't seen any good reason for wanting that functionality. If you're paranoid, the built-in firewall can be toggled to whitelisting mode. If you need only specific applications blocked, you can blacklist those. If you're worried about malware, well, they can just exfiltrate data through an allowed process. If you're worried/curious about new software, you should be running that in a VM along with Wireshark. I really can't find a good usecase for 3rd party firewalls - they're too confusing for Regular Joe, and they don't add anything really worthwhile for the advanced user, IMHO... just noise.
Then, my good sir, I must respectfully believe that you have not been looking very hard. MSE has done horribly in independent testing for the last couple years, never scoring more than 60-65%. Most testing sites do not even take MSE seriously as an anti-malware solution and have stated they only include the results as a baseline. Microsoft themselves have stated that MSE has been moved to the back-burner a long time ago.
Have those independent test become reputable? The last time I took a look at a couple of them, the way scores were weighed was very, very suspicious and had me pondering whether it was completely independent of cash from the AV vendors. Haven't bothered to look at them for a while, but if you have a recent link to something reputable, please entertain me
- a link to MS stating MSE has been put on the backburner would also be nice. (I don't necessarily
see that as a problem, anyway - there's no need for a whole lot of new features, as long as signatures are kept up to date).