Light on resources; unobtrusive; integrates well with Windows.
Short on features; scan speed still needs work.
Microsoft didn’t even bother to announce a version upgrade from 1.0 to 2.0, and at a glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But make no mistake, Microsoft’s team of mechanics tweaked the scan engine and made some other changes underneath the hood.
MSE provides a handful of options for scheduled scans, but doesn’t include the ability to set up two different types (Full and Quick) on different days.
Let’s talk performance. Last year’s version plodded through our files without any sense of urgency, and the speed didn’t pick up during subsequent scans. This time around, the scan engine didn’t waste time investigating clean files that hadn’t been altered. The result is that a laborious 27-minute scan was reduced to less than eight and a half minutes the second time around. Still not great, but MSE’s at least headed in the right direction.
MSE leaves a smaller footprint than an Oompa-Loompa. We recorded a boot penalty of just 10 seconds, and things only improved from there. Copying a 3GB collection of files to our local drive took the same amount of time with or without MSE installed, and memory usage increased only a few percentage points.
Version 2.0 manhandled our updated collection of malware and sailed through another round of testing from Virus Bulletin, earning its second consecutive VB100 award on the Windows 7 platform. And unlike before, version 2.0 keeps the Windows Firewall in check and alerts you if it’s turned off. We just wish there were more to play with. You won’t find nearly the same level of customization as a paid security suite. MSE lets you configure a scheduled scan, for example, but you can’t schedule a Quick scan one day and a Full scan on another. It’s also frustrating that you’re unable to pause scans, only cancel them outright.
With an improved scan engine and the same stellar protection as before, Microsoft Security Essentials is still the freebie AV app to beat.
|Email Scanning ||N|
|IM Scanning ||N|
|Spyware Protection ||Y|
|Rootkit Protection ||Y|
|Scan 1 (min:sec)||27:04|
|Scan 2 (min:sec)||8:25|
|3GB File Transfer||+0|