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Microsoft Security Essentials

Posted 30 Sep 2009 | Comments Off on Microsoft Security Essentials | 3,115 views

After several months of beta testing, Microsoft has released Security Essentials (MSE) to mixed reviews. MSE is essentially a rehash of Windows Defender. It’s billed as a core set of tools to keep Windows users safe from viruses and spyware, and it offers real time protection against malicious software.

Our install on a Dell Latitude running Windows XP was relatively smooth. Right after the installation, MSE claimed the laptop was At Risk and performed an automatic update. This temporarily froze almost all running applications for a few seconds, but everything soon returned to normal. Nine minutes into the initial scan, the application hung for almost 5 full minutes. The progress bar indicated that it was stuck scanning a registry entry. After the scan, MSE changed the status to Protected.

The real time scanning did not impact normal usage of any of the applications, and there was no noticeable difference in speed. Occasionally, Online Armor Free (OAF) would intercept MSE attempting to interact with another running process. This would create a momentary pause until the action was approved. The full scan touched each partition on the internal drive. In fact, OAF intercepted it opening PHYSICALDRIVE0 through PHYSICALDRIVE25.

One major difference between Windows Defender and MSE is the SpyNet functionality. A user could decline SpyNet membership in Defender. This is not the case with MSE, where the only choices are Basic or Advanced membership. In either case, SpyNet gets information about applications that are installed.

How MSE fares against the other free and commercial antivirus products will only be a matter of time. Windows Defender did not last very long compared with other popular free antivirus products. MSE is essentially the same product with a new presentation. Some of the process names are even the same.

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