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Author Topic: Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) - Mini-Review  (Read 4550 times)
IainB
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« on: December 04, 2012, 08:02:10 PM »

Originally posted:2012-12-05
Last updated2013-08-24

Basic Info
App NameMicrosoft Security Essentials (MSE)
(Anti-virus, spyware, and other malicious software detection/protection)
Thumbs-Up Rating Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup
App URLhttp://windows.microsoft....urity-essentials-download
App Version ReviewedAll $FREE versions and beta releases since Oct. 2010, including the current latest version:
  • Antimalware Client Version: 4.3.215.0
  • Engine Version: 1.1.9800.0
  • Antivirus definition: 1.157.246.0
  • Antispyware definition: 1.157.246.0
  • Network Inspection System Engine Version: 2.1.9800.0
  • Network Inspection System Definition Version: 107.2.0.0
Test System SpecsMS Win 7-64 Home Premium
Supported OSesWindows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP( 64-bit/32-bit)
Support Methodsmicrosoft.com (link is to the download site).
Updates to software and virus signature files are automatic, and can also be triggered via the Start menu to check for updates via Windows Update (in the Control Panel).
Virus signature file updates can also be forced instantaneously from the application GUI.
Help: is via links from the software GUI.
Upgrade PolicyUpgrades/updates are $FREE and loaded as above.
Trial Version Available?For personal and small business use: $FREE Trial and Production version (they are one and the same).
There is no PAID version.
Pricing SchemeFor personal and small business use - $FREE version only.

Intro and Overview:
This review follows on from a separate discussion thread in the DC Forum: Microsoft Security Essentials - new Beta out 2011-11-30 (updated 2012-07-11)
The virus-checking engine used by MSE used to be only available for businesses, and at a cost. It was regarded as being one of the best AV (Anti-Virus) tools available for business servers.
In October 2010 it was released for free for personal and small business users. I started using it as soon as the release was available, and it has been through several upgrades since then.
You can either use the released versions of MSE, or get on the beta or "pre-release" channel. (I have used both channels with no real problems.)
You can fit-and-forget MSE. The installation is straightforward. Once installed, everything is automatic, and seems to have been rock-solid stable (for me, at any rate). There are regular automatic virus signature file updates.
The user control is mainly around the setting of the default actions that are to be taken in the event of a malware detection at different threat levels - the actions are remove or quarantine. In the event, you can always tell MSE to ignore a given threat detection, thus it does not need to be blindly automatic or divorced from user control.

Over the time I have been using MSE on my PCs, it has detected several malwares, but my PCs have so far not been attacked by any really nasty viruses.

Description:
From the website:
Quote
Use Microsoft Security Essentials to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It provides real-time protection for your home or small business PCs.
Microsoft Security Essentials is free* and we designed it to be simple to install and easy to use. It runs quietly and efficiently in the background so you don't have to worry about interruptions or making updates.
  • Here is an example of the main GUI tab:
            

  • Here is an example of a threat (OpenCandy) quarantine:
            

  • Here is an example of a threat (Worm) quarantine:
            


Who this software is designed for:
Personal and small business users.

The Good:
  • Does exactly what it was designed to so, and very simply and effectively.
  • Also detects and treats the noxious OpenCandy adware

The needs improvement section:
(Nothing to comment on here.)

Why I think you should use this product:
Having used several other AV software applications, I would recommend MSE as the "no-brainer" default industry standard to go for.
I would also recommend that you use it together with MBAM (Malwarebytes Anti-Malware PRO).

How it compares to similar products:
Very favourably. I prefer a belts-and-braces approach and I use MSE in tandem with MBAM PRO, and the two seem to work happily together with no apparent conflict.
There are various reviews and comments regarding MSE/MBAM in the DC Forum and elsewhere on the Internet.
Some DC Forum examples re MSE:

Conclusions:
MSE is an excellent AV tool. Performs as designed, and very well.
There are other AV tools, but to a large extent they could seem to have been eclipsed by MSE.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 10:32:25 PM by IainB; Reason: Minor update and new example of threat (Worm) quarantine. » Logged
cyberdiva
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 08:32:44 PM »

Thanks, Iain, for posting this.  It told me some things I didn't know and made me feel good about my decision to use MSE as my AV, along with MBAM Pro.   (I confess that the DC thread not long ago about MSE losing some German lab's endorsement after poor zero-day detections shook my confidence a little bit.)
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IainB
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 10:22:53 PM »

...(I confess that the DC thread not long ago about MSE losing some German lab's endorsement after poor zero-day detections shook my confidence a little bit.)
Yes, I think that you may be referring to this discussion in DCF on 2012-11-30: Microsoft Security Essentials loses AV-TEST certification

I don't think that it was necessarily anything to panic about though.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 10:53:35 PM by IainB » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 02:50:16 AM »

Just to add - Windows 8 includes MSE as standard, there is no download. Really annoying that new machines come with it turned off and some adware (McAfee, Norton, Trend, Kaspersky) installed as a replacement.

Given the number of people I have seen ripped off by McAfee and Norton and their shoddy business practices (in particular ignoring auto renewal opt out) I would argue that they are fast becoming malware themselves.
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f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 04:19:37 AM »

I don't think that it was necessarily anything to panic about though.
Me neither.

I wonder how much the extortion gang established antivirus companies paid for the Pretty Funky Weighting required for the low MSE rating?
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2012, 01:18:59 AM »

PC world and Cnet both gave this software pretty strong praise, I also use CC Cleaner, Spy Bot search and destroy, and Iorbit AV, all free.  Thmbsup
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 01:46:47 AM »

I used to use Norton some ... ten(?) years ago. A Bunch of free stuff in the middle. Come on, with the dev power MS had, you know they could have done it in like 1999, they politically chose not to.

So finally someone did some PR math and decided to do it in house, and it's not bad. Nothing is perfect, but ... not bad. 10 years too late, but whatever, that's how MS works.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 06:41:45 AM »

I am waiting for the prosecution in the EU given that it is included in Win8 and switched on as standard.

I suspect one of the reasons MS didn't do it earlier is because of all the anti-trust lawsuits they were facing - which makes it all the odder that the included it with Win8 ???
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wraith808
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 08:50:29 AM »

I am waiting for the prosecution in the EU given that it is included in Win8 and switched on as standard.

If they do, they're shortsighted.

I suspect one of the reasons MS didn't do it earlier is because of all the anti-trust lawsuits they were facing - which makes it all the odder that the included it with Win8 ???

Probably because of the fact that many people don't know what they should get for AV, and the companies are taking advantage of that on Windows.  And since the firewall thing flew, I don't see any reason why this shouldn't.
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IainB
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2013, 07:01:37 AM »

2013-01-04: Minor update. Updated the review in the opening post with the latest version numbers. Only the 2 definitions files have in fact changed since the original review dated 2012-12-05, so the software itself is unchanged.

Old/previous:
    Antimalware Client Version: 4.1.522.0
    Engine Version: 1.1.9002.0
    Antivirus definition: 1.141.1057.0
    Antispyware definition: 1.141.1057.0
    Network Inspection System Engine Version: 2.1.8904.0
    Network Inspection System Definition Version: 18.36.0.0

Current/latest
    Antimalware Client Version: 4.1.522.0
    Engine Version: 1.1.9002.0
    Antivirus definition: 1.141.3134.0 <-----New
    Antispyware definition: 1.141.3134.0 <----- New
    Network Inspection System Engine Version: 2.1.8904.0
    Network Inspection System Definition Version: 18.36.0.0
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Darwin
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2013, 09:43:50 AM »

Thanks for the review, Iain. I used MSE exclusively, and without any problems, for about 3 years (2009 to 2012). I now have a Norton AV subscription (base AV, no firewall or anything else), because in April 2012, on my Windows 7 install, MSE stopped working entirely. After fussing and farting around for a couple of days trying to fix it (including loading an image file predating it ceasing to function), I started researching alternatives and settled on Norton. I am REALLY pleased/impressed - this is not the Norton that I recall from 2003 or so - as the hit on my computer resources is nil and the AV functions well.

Now, in July I started running Windows 8 preview, then the RTM version, and could probably be running MSE. However, havning paid for three years of Norton protection (got a deal when I purchased), and I can't bring myself to dump Norton, yet... I did dump Bitdefender, VIPRE and Spyware Doctor with AV with years left on their respective subscriptions when they started to hog resources, so we'll see how this goes in the future.
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2013, 11:13:30 AM »

For me for some time now MSE runs really heavily at boot up, enough so that I am starting to think about replacing it. There was a report elsewhere with the generally disturbed tone that AV isn't as good as most people hope it is, remarking on some delays for it to pick up brand new malware. MSE scored straight in the middle of their tests, with a couple of (newer?) companies I hadn't heard of scoring higher. 

Unless it's just really good at background protection, I can sorta count the number of MSE blocking events on one hand all last year.
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IainB
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2013, 03:05:58 AM »

In October 2010, I heard about and downloaded MSE for trial as soon as I read about its being released free for personal and small business use. Previously, I had tended to follow my eldest son's advice and used Avast! and then AVG. When I asked him about MSE (he was supporting the network operation for a kiwi bank at the time) he exclaimed "It's free? I didn't know about that. We use the MSE virus-checking engine on our servers and it's regarded as being one of the best there is. It has to be a good deal at free. Go for it."

The only real trouble I have had so far with MSE was when a critical Windows Update affecting MSE just would not complete, so I deinstalled MSE, ran CCleaner at max clean level, restarted everything, and then reinstalled MSE, and then the update went OK. I suspect that the problem was of my own making, as I had been switching between MSE ß releases and final releases, and I reckon I could have got the registry entries for MSE versions in a bit of a conflicting bind.
I have not otherwise experienced MSE causing any problems - e.g., a severe CPU load or lockup as may have been the case in some comments above.
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IainB
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2013, 10:37:50 PM »

2013-08-24: Minor update and new example of threat (Worm) quarantine.
Latest version details updated:
  • Antimalware Client Version: 4.3.215.0
  • Engine Version: 1.1.9800.0
  • Antivirus definition: 1.157.246.0
  • Antispyware definition: 1.157.246.0
  • Network Inspection System Engine Version: 2.1.9800.0
  • Network Inspection System Definition Version: 107.2.0.0
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