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What Is Microsoft Security Essentials and do I need it?

Since Microsoft’s Windows operating system is famous for its vulnerability to viruses, it’s only natural that Microsoft has tried its hands on a couple of anti-malware programs. One of the longest-running antivirus programs from the Redmond company was Microsoft Security Essentials.

Microsoft debuted MSE on Windows XP, and it ran through Windows succeeded Vista and Windows 7 Defender on Windows 8. The software is still available for download for older versions of Windows, but that isn’t something we recommend.

In this article, we’ll review Microsoft Security Essentials and show you if you need to get the program at all. Also, we’ll outline some alternatives to this antivirus software and why this is too old for consideration.

What Is Microsoft Security Essentials?

Microsoft Security Essentials is an antivirus program for Windows, designed by Microsoft itself. As hinted in the introduction, they introduced it with Windows XP and it remained the default anti-malware suite until Windows 8, when it was replaced with the new Windows Defender.

Unlike most antivirus software, Microsoft Security Essentials was free for home users and businesses using less than 10 computers. This already made it a better deal than most of the offerings on the market.

With Windows 8, Microsoft phased away from the old antivirus program, only to replace it with Windows Defender. Windows Defender shipped with a lot of new features, which sent MSE into instant extinction.

When it was initially released in 2009, we received positively the software with massive praise for its intuitive interface and low resource usage. Also, it got the AV-TEST certification, showing that it can counter all the known malware threats.

Over time, however, Microsoft lost most of the positive reviews, including the AV-TEST certification, no thanks to the deteriorating state of the product. While Microsoft tried desperately to improve the product, it didn’t see as much support as it received when it was first released until Windows Defender replaced it.

Microsoft Security Essentials Features

While the software was not a fully featured anti-malware suite, it was good enough to keep most computers safe. It performed some obvious blunders at some point, like incorrectly tagging Google Chrome as malware after downloading a faulty definition update.

That aside, there are many features on Microsoft Security Essentials that make it capable of fighting threats. Here are some of the most popular features of the program before it became discontinued.

  • On-demand virus scanner

While Microsoft Security Essentials lacks a feature that lets you schedule virus scans, you can always run a new virus scan each time you need to. Using the on-demand virus scanner, you can either run the quick or full virus scanner to fish out the malware on your computer and, if possible, remove them.

Most people only use this part of the entire program, as it’s the most obvious feature. However, there are many other features on the Microsoft Security Essentials program that can protect a computer from threats if you’re curious enough to explore.

  • Daily virus definition updates

To ensure that the software has the latest definition updates to keep you protected, Microsoft Security Essentials automatically downloads the latest virus definition updates three times a day through Windows Update. If you didn’t get a certain update, you can always get on the Microsoft update catalog to download it manually.

The daily virus definition updates worked pretty well, save for the occasional blunders it performs every so often. While the Google Chrome incident was by far the most widespread, it wasn’t the only one over the years.

  • Real-time protection

Over time, Microsoft updated the program to address and eliminate threats in real-time before they become “problems” in the company’s words. In reality, the real-time protection feature scans files as soon as they’re downloaded from the internet or sent to your computer.

Using the virus definition updates that you’ve downloaded earlier, your computer will try to determine if a piece of software or file is legitimate or malware. Most of the time, Microsoft Security Essentials get it right, making a new antivirus program unnecessary.

  • Integration with the Windows Firewall utility

Windows Firewall is one of the few Windows features that didn’t receive huge backlashes from users of the operating system. Since having a firewall is an essential part of having a secure PC, Microsoft integrated the default firewall with the security program to keep you safer.

It works by scanning your computer and determining if you have a firewall active. If you don’t, the program will keep bugging you to activate the Windows Firewall, which you should for an additional layer of security for your computer.

Do You Need Microsoft Security Essentials?

When talking about usability, MSE is no doubt a useful program, as it keeps your computer safe to a very large extent. However, there’s a tremendous difference between a useful program and a program that you need; Microsoft Security Essentials don’t seem to fit into both categories.

First, the program became outdated since the early days of Windows 8 when Microsoft replaced it with the new and better Windows Defender. While Windows Defender is not perfect, it’s, by all means, better than the preceding Microsoft Security Essentials.

If you’re using Windows 7, go to Windows 10. Every version of Windows that uses Microsoft Security Essentials is no longer supported, and the program is no longer maintained. Therefore, you do not need protection from MSE.

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Microsoft started its foray into creating antivirus programs for its operating system using Microsoft Security Essentials, and it wasn’t a bad try. With a slew of features designed to keep viruses off your computer, this program is the missing piece from Windows.

As good as it was, you no longer need Microsoft Security Essential on your Windows computer. Instead, get used to the new and better alternative, Windows Defender, a security suite that was introduced to Windows with Windows 8.

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