Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 thoughts

[Note: I have not installed MSE yet, it is not available in my country. All opinions are based on information online.]

So Microsoft has just launched it's new Microsoft Security Essentials v1.0 software (MSE abbreviated). MSE is basically a free, lightweight and effective anti-virus software that can be installed on XP, Vista and 7 systems which have been validated as genuine copies. Remember that Microsoft used to sell it's OneCare product? Well, MSE replaces OneCare. It is essentially OneCare, minus all the extra PC tune-up and backup stuff, i.e. MSE is just supposed to tackle viruses and spyware. It is built on the same foundation as OneCare.

MSE is a very interesting product, for if it really takes off, it could spell doom for the big-time security companies, namely Symantec (Norton) and McAfee. I mean, think about it: we're talking about a no cost, lightweight, hassle-free security solution which claims to provide very effective security for a worry-free PC experience. Microsoft says it gives the same level of protection as Microsoft's Forefront product for businesses. That's what many consumers want, isn't it? We all like to install our AV, then forget about it and let it take care of itself.

But that's where my worry is. Maybe it's just a human thing, but I do not feel secure when something is this good. When you download an installer that is less than 10MB and when something as important as an AV takes up so little computing resources, I just have that feeling that it's not good enough, that it only offers basic protection and is not as intensive as Norton, with all their complex detection technologies. So I'm not sure if I would trust MSE to protect my PC from all sorts of threats online; I guess only time will tell if MSE can be a replacement for Norton when it comes to solid PC protection. I'm a big fan of Norton Internet Security 09, because their protection is top-notch, and I always feel secure online. But with the simple UI of MSE and little options or settings, I just feel that it is inadequate.

So in conclusion, for the informed IT user who likes to muddle with settings and options, maybe MSE is not for you. I guess MSE is targeted at that ignorant user who knows nuts about anti-virus software but still want to stay secure. Also, it is catered towards developing countries where users do not want to fork out extra buck for security software. But I would assert that there is one last target audience: the netbook users. Yes, because MSE is so feather-light, it is an ideal AV solution on low-powered netbooks. But then again the whole question of 'is it good enough protection' arises. Only time will tell, but with this first release, the situation looks positive. Tests reveal that MSE is indeed quite effective... if I can trust MSE, then I will not renew my Norton subscription when it expires.

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