Microsoft’s (Anti)Viral Secret

October 28, 2009 | by BatesMeron

Of the 250 million Americans who use the internet, around 90% use Microsoft Windows. Of those, the vast majority either have an antivirus program that is out of date or no antivirus at all. (Many computers purchased come with at least 30 days or a year’s worth of the best antivirus subscription, which almost always expires unnoticed.) Yet Microsoft has generally stepped back from antivirus protection, uncharacteristically relying on third parties to come up with their own—often with limited success which then requires people to look for other internet security resources.

That is, until now. Microsoft just released to the public its own antivirus that is lightweight, integrates perfectly with Windows, and is free. (Also uncharacteristic of Microsoft, it’s been kept pretty quiet.)

Microsoft’s Security Essentials is a stripped-down, easy to use, and effective antivirus application written by the very people who know the most about how Windows works. It is now officially out of beta and freely downloadable.

Security Essentials uses “real-time protection to help prevent PCs from becoming infected, and it is the first Microsoft security product to make use of the company’s new Dynamic Signature Service, a technology that helps ensure users stay protected by the most current virus definitions available without having to wait for the next scheduled download,” the company said. Security Essentials will automatically be updated daily as it checks for viruses, spyware and other malicious software, Microsoft said, and “is designed to run quietly in the background alerting users only when there is an action for them to take. It also limits CPU and memory usage.”

So far, Security Essentials has received positive reviews. Antivirus testing company AV-Test GmbH used the beta version of Security Essentials and told Computerworld magazine that “All (viruses) were properly detected and treated by the product. That’s good, as several other (antivirus) scanners are still not able to detect and kill all of these critters yet.”

The best candidates for Security Essentials are those who don’t use any antivirus protection on their computers. I see this product as being used by people who do not bother to renew the trial version of anti-malware software that comes with their computer, and therefore, are unprotected once the signature file stops updating.

That describes about two-thirds of PC users in the United States. If that sounds like you, viral protection is a free click away.

 

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