29 October 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 [Quick Review]


Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 is the New (As in Final Release) that has been around less than a month and has been downloaded around 3 million times already. It is a FREE full Anti-Malware program that covers against Viruses, Spyware, Rootkits, Trojans and Common Bots. It is technology that descends from the excellent but now discontinued OneCare 2.5 and the enterprise bound Forefront  with its Program Signature Diagnostics technology. Some of the which was even debuted for MSE 1.0 first before it gets added to Forefront next update.

Some History

Many from the big Security Software companies have tried to discredit MSE as a  “Not Good Enough” solution compared to the paid ones they offer. Something i can state as rubbish since the technology inside  MSE comes from the commercial, paid based and  award winning OneCare and Forefront. And before OneCare ( was forced out of the market by the threat of lawsuits and commercial pressure on retailers put by the same security companies) was taken out of availability. It was slowly growing in sales and efficiency as the latest studies before it was discontinued demonstrate.

So, instead of trying to fight a losing battle, Microsoft decided to engage in the PC Security Wars by releasing a Free product that while released under the compromise of no paid publicity or marketing, no common retail bundling and no OEM bundling deals. Still has managed to capture the attention of the market by being the best free PC Anti-Malware Software Suite around.

(Must of course state that all of  this  don’t comes from any official statement from Microsoft and that is of my own perspective and interpretation of the events. Just to be safe against that flame.)

The Install

MSE works in XP, Vista and 7. Vista and 7 also got  a 64bit version of the installer and these are the latest official requirements:

Operating System: Genuine Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3); Windows Vista (Gold, Service Pack 1, or Service Pack 2); Windows 7

  • For Windows XP, a PC with a CPU clock speed of 500 MHz or higher, and 256 MB RAM or higher.
  • For Windows Vista and Windows 7, a PC with a CPU clock speed of 1.0 GHz or higher, and 1 GB RAM or higher.
  • VGA display of 800 × 600 or higher.
  • 140 MB of available hard disk space.
  • An Internet connection is required for installation and to download the latest virus and spyware definitions for Microsoft Security Essentials.
  • Internet Browser:
    • Windows Internet Explorer 6.0 or later.
    • Mozilla Firefox 2.0 or later.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials also supports Windows XP Mode in Windows 7. For more information see the system requirements for Windows XP Mode in Windows 7

So it pretty much can run in any Windows PC made in the last 10 years. The reason is that the installer and program footprint are also very slim:

OS   Installer Install Footprint
   XP  (32-bits)   8.63 MB 10 MB – 12 MB
   Vista or 7   (32-bits)   4.29 MB    9 MB - 11 MB
   Vista or 7    (64-bits)   4.72 MB 10 MB – 11 MB

If you for some reason decide that you don’t want it anymore, It also can be uninstalled without reboots and without any special dialogs showing up in the same or less amount of time it took to install it.

The Software

OneCare was never complicated to begin with but since it was a All-In-One Security Suite, it had a lot more of options and busier interface. MSE on the other hand made a new interface that is very very simple to use:


The default view of MSE is Home, there you can see the state main settings and functions of MSE. The Main Setting are your Scan Options, Virus Definitions State, Real-Time Protection State and your Scheduled Scan Settings.

It also shows you a confirmation of your Computer Status:

Green = Good  =  No Actions Need To Be Taken

Yellow = So-So =  Your PC Is Not In Danger, But The Program Requires Of A User Initiated Action

Red     =  Bad  =  Your  PC Is In Danger, MSE Needs Your Assistance To Be Safe Again



Only shows you the state of your Virus & Spyware definitions and the time these were created and the corresponding version they belong. Only user action here is to Update in the case you want the very latest updates before a manually initiated scan.



Most of the times  MSE will not require of your help to solve a problem within a scan session or ongoing state. So History will show you if it has dealt with any dangerous file or malware program and will let you know if it detected something and erased it, Quarantined if it could not get rid of it in order to disable the threat or if it let it run based on a advanced configuration you had set.



The master controls from where all behaviors in MSE are set and it is the following:

  • Scheduled Scan
  • Default actions
  • Real-time protection
  • Excluded files & locations
  • Excluded file types
  • Excluded processes
  • Advanced
  • Microsoft SpyNet

Every single thing in the program can be controlled, tweaked and changed from here with the exception of the updating mechanism for security reasons. You will need a script if you want to change the behavior.  I don’t recommend it.



At this point i am very familiar with MSE, have installed all the versions, and set it up in a dozen machines from friends and family. I also must disclose that i was and i am part of the official testers of the ongoing beta program. The screenshots are actually from the very last build of it.

So my recommendations on its use are the following:

  • 1.-Set Scheduled Scan to once a week at a time you are not using the computer and select a full scan. This way it will be the best and most effective scan. So your PC will be safer.
  • 2.-Don’t exclude or allow anything unless you really have a reason for it.
  • 3.-Once installed go and enable all settings that are not set.
  • 4.-Leave all the Recommended Action as it is in the Default Actions settings. This way there are less risks with false positives (not that they are common, but you never know)
  • 5.-Set your Microsoft SpyNet Membership from basic to advanced. There is no risk to it. Enabling this option will make MSE faster to respond and more accurate to respond against threats as time passes.

These 5recommendations will yield in the best experience possible using MSE as i have learned in the last several months.

Final Notes

Before MSE, i used OneCare in my home network that includes PC’s from my brothers. but my subscription ran out early this year and there was no longer the option to update it. OneCare was also what i used to recommend and sell when someone asked me for a security suite. So i did sold and set up around a 100 of those. While i waited for Project Morro as it was called. I tried out several Free alternatives with not as pleasant results. You truly noted that they were free solutions and i even was victim of a AVG false positive that made thank for WHS as it damaged my a XP Install.

So far MSE don’t got any of those problems and it feels as solid as OneCare 2.5 was because IT IS in part the same software. The only bummers are that it no longer got a advanced firewall, network, backups or automatic maintenance. Most of these are now part of Windows 7 in fact. But as a free Anti-Malware Software Suite goes?. I can firmly Recommend it as the best there is because of its low requirements, high performance, ease of use and top-notch engines that run in it.

Give it a try.


Microsoft Security Essentials <—Homepage Auto-Detects Version You Need To Download

MSE Support Guide <—Includes How-To Video Guide From Install To Usage




Milton Ramirez said...

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Avatar X said...

Like this one?:


sorry for the late reply, had not seen this comment.


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