Microsoft entered the anti-virus area when it introduced MSE, Microsoft Security Essentials, in 2009. This tool operates on Windows XP, 7 and 8. Users praised the move because it was long overdue that this company brought out its own solution in anti-virus protection. Early results showed that Microsoft’s application was just as robust as the protection offered by paid competitors.
That early praise soon disappeared. Later tests showed that MSE did not offer the features that users expected in a robust anti-virus program. MSE fell short of consumers’ expectations.
Protection Is Important
The ability of an anti-virus tool to detect a threat and quarantine it is the most important aspect of that tool. Unfortunately, not all anti-virus apps do a good job in that area. There is a big gap between the best in class and the worst.
MSE has fallen behind competitive products, demonstrating that the online security field evolves very quickly. An app that was top in its class a year ago can quickly fall behind if it does not evolve to match changes in security requirements. Organizations like AV-Comparatives and AV-Tests, that provide independent testing services, offer important information to people looking for the best product out there.
An Antivirus Should Offer More Than The Obvious
Microsoft had the right idea when it released its antivirus program for Windows. However, the product was completely outdated almost as soon as it was launched. Threats to security have progressed beyond the level of protection offered by a basic antivirus program.
An effective antivirus app needs the ability to identify suspicious URLs and also should provide tools that identify probable phishing. Microsoft’s product falls well short in this area.
The better antivirus programs also include a secure file shredder, a sandbox for safe payment, spam protection powered by the cloud, an easy-to-use firewall, and tools that allow you to remove threats like rootkits.
Popularity Can Bring Problems
Because Windows is such a popular operating system, many malware authors make it their target. When MSE appeared and was installed on millions of computers, it was inevitable that it also became a target of the malware developers.
It is quite conceivable that malware developers are targeting MSE when they create a new virus or Trojan, but this is hard to prove. Whether this is why MSE has achieved low scores in independent tests is a debatable topic.
However, what is undeniable is that designers of rogue antivirus software have taken advantage of MSE and have created many fakes. Other major players in security, such as McAfee and Norton, also have been cloned as fakes, but MSE tops them all. Obscurity does not guarantee security, but smaller antivirus players like F-Secure or Avira are less likely to be targeted than the bigger players.
A robust antivirus app should be able to prevent or remove a wide range of security threats. It should be able to hold its own against fakes or threats that try to break through its defences.
Unfortunately for MSE, it now fails in all areas. Although it did gain praise in its early days, that praise has quickly faded away as disappointed users abandon MSE for other free antivirus programs. These other programs are now considered by users to be the best option, even by those who look only for free products. MSE does continue to offer some protection, but this becomes irrelevant when other free antivirus programs provide stronger protection, more security features and much better performance.