Microsoft Security Essentials Bites the Dust

November 14, 2012 - Sort Of.

After using myself as a test subject a few years ago, I decided that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) was an excellent security (anti-everything) product. I started recommending it to friends and family and, more importantly, to my very small business clients.

Security Essentials is not available for Windows 8. Shocking, until you get the entire story.

Dating back to Windows XP, an anti-malware program called Windows Defender was available and later came installed with Windows. Defender was primarily targeted at spyware and was not an anti-virus product. Even with Defender, an AV solution was still needed.

Then came Security Essentials, an offshoot of Microsoft's enterprise solution, Forefront. MSE is a full-fledged security product, obviating the need for Defender. If MSE is installed, Defender goes quiet.

With Windows 8 comes a major sea change. Defender still comes with Windows but it has been upgraded to match the capability of MSE. In other words, once you have Windows 8 installed you are automatically running a full-fledged security solution. MSE will not run in Windows 8.

Here's the big change. MSE's free licensing had been expanded to cover small businesses with 10 or less PCs. Because Defender comes with every copy of Windows 8, small businesses can get the same level of protection afforded by MSE with all their devices, even beyond 10. Consumers don't have to worry about adding protection to their PCs, tablets, or phones because it will already be there.

For consumers and small businesses, this is great news, one less thing to worry about when getting a new device up and running. Larger businesses, who need to manage their security deployment, will find Forefront solutions more efficient. It's a win-win for Microsoft. And it's a win for me because when I help people with their PCs, installing MSE is a task I can safely take off the list, thus saving me time.

The new Windows Defender has probably not gotten the attention it deserves in the press. I only found out about it a couple of days ago and was surprised I had not heard sooner. Microsoft deserves a hearty pat on the back for this.

For those continuing to use WinXP, Vista, or Win7, MSE will continue to be available.

Tags: Security, Spyware, Web, Windows

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