First Look: Microsoft Security Essentials offers free and non-intrusive protection against malware
Microsoft's latest anti-malware application uses the same engine as OneCare, but is smaller, faster and more efficient than its predecessorFollow @infoworld
In its earliest days, OneCare did not perform impressively in anti-malware tests, but over time that has changed. It now ranks near the top of security software, according to the independent AV-Comparatives Web site. The site regularly tests anti-virus tools, and its latest tests of 16 applications, done in May, ranks OneCare as only one of three tools given the top Advanced+ designation (the other two were Kaspersky and ESET NOD32). It also tied for second place for its proactive detection of new malware and was the only software rated as giving very few false alarms.
The bottom line
In its reviewer's guide, the Microsoft says that "a surprising number of consumer PCs remain unprotected" against malware, although it offers no numbers. There are several reasons that consumers don't protect themselves, according to Microsoft. They are confused by the trial offers that come pre-installed on their PCs and by annual subscription fees. Heavy security suites slow down PCs and so people don't want to use them. Finally, some people simply aren't willing to pay for security.
Microsoft also notes that in "emerging markets," credit isn't always easy to come by, and so people can't pay for annual subscriptions using credit cards the way they do in countries such as the United States.
Given those goals, Microsoft Security Essentials -- even in beta form -- is a clear success. It's exceedingly simple to use, takes up few system resources and doesn't cost anything. Those who want fuller-featured security suites that do backups and other functions, or who want to be able to tweak their protection levels in more detail, will look elsewhere.
But apart from that, there's no reason not to download and use Microsoft Security Essentials (if you can -- apparently, Microsoft is limiting the number of downloads available). It does the job simply and for free.