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Microsoft Security Essentials

By:Christine Fettinger

Microsoft has just started a beta program for their new anti-virus/malware program. It’s called Microsoft Security Essentials and the final version will be coming out later this year. And it’ll be FREE! So far it appears to be compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and the upcoming Windows 7. Vista and 7 will have both 32-bit and 64-bit versions available.
I downloaded and installed it on my Windows 7 RC build. It’s a small download, about 5mb in size. It’s a simple installation, although you do need to have passed their Windows Genuine Advantage program. The memory footprint while running is tiny, about 4mb.

If you open up the program, there are several items of interest. The status screen lets you know if the Real-time protection is on and if the definitions are up to date. You can quick start a Quick, Full, or Custom scan. The Update tab will show you the date and version of the definitions, and let you start a manual update. The History tab will show all the detected items, with recommedations and information link for all the items. Finally, there is the Options tab. In here, you can schedule scans, set default actions, exclude files and folders, exclude file types, and exclude processes.

On my laptop, the program quickly found my Port Scanning program and asked if I wanted to quarantine it. I did not, and it was easy to set it to Allow. So far there has been no noticible performance impact on my laptop.

The initial impressions are good. If the final release stays as streamlined as the beta, and is indeed free to everyone, it will be a great anti-virus/malware option for home users and some small businesses that don’t need a centrally managed system.