Microsoft is releasing Security Essentials, the final version of the new Microsoft-built antivirus software which provides free malware protection for Windows PCs. Designed to replace the now-discontinued OneCare product, Security Essentials requires no registration, trials, or renewals. It’s completely free, no strings attached.
As we noted earlier this summer when the program went into public beta, the software has several features which make it a good alternative to store-bought AV software on the market today including its rootkit protection, one-click fixes, dynamic signature service and more. The software is also designed to run quietly in the background not eating up CPU and memory use like many AV programs have done in the past.
Another nice thing about the Security Essentials is its interface. Previously, I’ve used a handful of free AV programs on my PCs including Avast and AVG and I always felt like I was getting what I was paying for (nada) when it came to UI design. The programs were often ugly and confusing. That’s why it’s refreshing to see a free product like Security Essentials which has such a clean, minimalist interface. There are only four tabs at the top to navigate through (Home, Update, History, and Settings) and none of the pages are cluttered with content, allowing you to focus on what’s important.
The program also makes it very clear when you need to take action. When the AV is up-to-date and the system is protected, for example, the bar at the top is green and an icon of a computer with a white check on a green screen is displayed. If, however, something is wrong, the bar turns red and the computer icon’s screen is red with a white “X”. It couldn’t be more obvious.
In the event that you actually get a virus, the software immediately addresses the threat without confusing the end user with too many choices of what to do next. That’s great for the non-tech savvy end users who don’t know when they should choose “quarantine” versus “remove threat.” Instead, a small “show details” link is provided so advanced users can learn more about what happened while a “clean computer” button lets you simply remove the malware from your machine, if desired.
Security Essentials runs unobtrusively in the background, never prompting you to run a scan or download updates – that all occurs in the background without user intervention. And it does so when the computer is idle, too, so as not to slow things down.
Best of all, the software is completely free, as long as you are running a legal copy of windows. You can download your copy of Security Essentials from here as of now: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials.