Microsoft Security Essentials - Reception - Reviews and Awards

Reviews and Awards

The public beta version received several reviews, citing its low resource usage, straightforward user interface and price point. Brian Krebs of The Washington Post reported that a quick scan on a Windows 7 computer took about 10 minutes and a full scan about 45 minutes. Ars Technica reviewed it positively, citing its organized interface, low resource usage, and its status as freeware.

Nick Mediati of PCWorld noted MSE's "clear-cut" and "cleanly designed" tabbed user interface. He did, however, find some of the settings to be cryptic and confusing, defaulting to "recommended action", with the only explanation of what that action is to be found in the help file. He was also initially confused because the user interface failed to mention that Microsoft Security Essentials automatically updates itself, rather than having to be manually updated via the Update tab; an explanation of this feature was included in the final release.

Neil Rubenking of PC Magazine successfully installed the beta version on 12 malware-infected systems and commented on its small installation package (about 7 MB, depending on the operating system) and speedy installation. But the initial virus definition update took between 5 and 15 minutes, and the full installation occupied about 110 MB of disk space. Rubenking noted that the beta version sets Windows Update into fully automatic mode, although it can be turned off again through Windows Control Panel. Some full scans took more than an hour on infected systems; a scan on a clean system took 35 minutes. An on-demand scan test Rubenking conducted in June 2009 with the beta version found 89 percent of all malware samples: 30 percent of the commercial keyloggers, 67 percent of rootkits, but only half of the scareware samples. The product's real-time protection found 83 percent of all malware and blocked the majority of it: 40 percent of the commercial keyloggers and 78 percent of the rootkits were found.

On 7 January 2010, Microsoft Security Essentials won the PC Advisor's Best Free Software award. In December the same year, it secured AV-Comparatives Bronze award for proactive detection of 55 percent of new or unknown malware, the Silver award for low false-positives (six occurrences) and the Bronze award for overall performance.

In October 2009, AV-TEST conducted a series of trials on the final build of the product in which it detected and caught 98.44 percent of 545,034 computer viruses, computer worms and software Trojan horses as well as 90.95 percent of 14,222 spyware and adware samples. It also detected and eliminated all 25 tested rootkits, generating no false-positives. Between June 2010 to January 2013, AV-TEST tested Microsoft Security Essentials 14 times; in 11 out of 14 cases, MSE secured AV-TEST certification of outperforming AV industry average ratings. Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 was tested and certified on March 2011. The product achieved a protection score of 2.5 out of 6, a repair score of 3.5 out of 6 and a usability score of 5.5 out of 6. Report details show that although version 2.0 was able to find all malware samples of the WildList (widespread malware), it was not able to stop all Internet-based attacks because it lacks personal firewall and anti-spam capabilities. In an April 2012 test, version 2.1 achieved scores of 3.0, 5.5 and 5.0 for protection, repair and usability. Version 4.0 for Windows 7 SP1 (x64) was tested in June 2012 and achieved scores of 2.5, 5.5 and 5.5 for protection, repair and usability. In October 2012, the product lost its AV-TEST certification when Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1 achieved scores of 1.5, 3.5 and 5.5 for its protection, repair and usability.

In AV-TEST's 2011 annual review, Microsoft Security Essentials came last in protection, seventh in repair and fifth in usability. In 2012 review, it came last in protection and best in usability; however, having lost it certificate, it was not qualified for the usability award.

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